“Doesn’t self-acceptance just breed unhealthiness? Aren’t you just giving people the right to neglect their bodies when we all know that there is an obesity crisis in this country?” He asked.
This is a question I hear a lot in various iterations because people honestly believe that body shame is what motivates us to action. Body shame is what changes our choices. Body shame is what inspires us to take better care of ourselves. And, maybe for a few people that’s true but what I have found is that body shame is no motivator. Body shame is, for many people, a paralyzer.
Self-acceptance is not saying that we have no room to grow or change anywhere—whether we are talking about our parenting approach, education level, or physical or emotional wellbeing. Self-acceptance is rooted in our decision to not have an adversarial relationship with ourselves, and it is practiced by understanding that we do not have to be different to have worth. We have worth simply because we exist.
That said, to get the most of life, to really enjoy what life has to offer, we have a responsibility for our total wellbeing. And by total wellbeing, I don’t mean what we look like. I mean how we feel emotionally, how we grow intellectually, where we feel connected spiritually, and how we feel and function physically. It is not that we need to LOOK different in order to be healthy. It is that we need to be making choices that empower us to do what we want to do in this world. Some of those choices are about getting enough rest. Some of those choices are about how we refill our well. Some of those choices are about how we fuel and move our body.
What I have seen in my world is that the more respect we have for ourselves, the more grace we give ourselves, the more willing we are to make choices that perpetuate feeling good.
We have a responsibility for our bodies, and that responsibility is so much easier to embrace when we have done the work of accepting ourselves. When we do that work, we fully understand what it is we have to offer the world and we further understand that feeling crappy- emotionally, mentally, spiritually, or physicially- hinders us from giving our gifts to the world and that is far more inspiring than body shame could ever be.
Want a tool to help you honor your emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical wellbeing? Try writing (and following) a wellness prescription.