At the end of each semester, my body image students write a process paper where they synthesize their learning- both personal and academic- for the semester. These papers are always a delight to read and there is so much wisdom in them that I just have to share a fraction of it (with my students’ permission, of course) with you. Here, some wise words from my students this semester. May they give you hope and inspiration the way they did me.
YOUR BODY IMAGE BELONGS TO YOU.
Your body image is all about you. You can make it and change it in any way you please; it doesn’t stay the same, and it can be anything you want it to be, because it belongs to you. Your body image is not for other people, and nobody has the ability to rightfully judge it other than you, because they cannot touch it. We are so ingrained into thinking that what we think about others will make them change the way they think about themselves. Sometimes, this is true, and unfortunately, it does happen. It is very easy for someone with poor body image to believe something that someone else says about them. However, we have to understand that we have the divine power to do whatever we wish to do with our bodies. We are rightfully minded to see that we are one with our bodies, and our bodies are our vessels. It is important and necessary to care for our vessels, because they are so precious. Your body is your temple, and you should worship it. Your image is about you, and you create it. It is not the way you look, what people think about you, how people view you, it is how you take your life and your body and turn it into your perception of yourself. No one else is in control of that. ~Chantal
THE SCARY TRUTH ABOUT BELIEVING PHYSICAL APPEARANCE DICTATES WORTH
Thoughts become actions, and thinking that others (including myself) were inferior because of their physical appearance is a dangerous ideal to put into the universe. I came to the brutal realization that these thoughts… are a way of controlling people, and dictating who deserves what. Although this may seem extreme in some ways, there is truth to this idea. The scary thing about believing physical appearance dictates someone’s worth, is where social issues such as racism, and prejudices, come into play. These thoughts have the power to create social unjust, and can determine the quality of a human beings’ life. A tough pill to swallow, but a realization that needed to be made. ~Mallory
I DON’T WANT TO BE THAT 57%.
I find myself using the same type of language my mother used around me about herself when I was growing up. I will say things like “when I get pregnant this baby’s going to just fall right out of me with the size of these hips”, “My butt is so big I can barely fit into these jeans”, and “I got to get to the gym!” All of these statements while different from my mom, had the exact same meaning. I didn’t feel beautiful in my own skin. 57% of all girls have a mother who criticizes her own looks in front of them. I don’t want to be that 57%. I don’t want my child to feel the way I did about myself, and I sure as hell don’t want to relay the idea to my child that she isn’t beautiful just the way she is. ~Holly
I see beauty in passion, love, nature; beauty is a fluid form of what is good in this world. It is not limited to shiny hair, perfect skin, or a thin body. It is a mother taking care of her child, a stranger helping a stranger, or someone who speaks for the rights of those who do not have a voice themselves. I love myself for being informed, for never wanting to stop learning, and for understanding there is is always room for growth. ~Mallory
There is no such thing as perfect. These lies that we are constantly fed through advertising shaming us for having normal imperfectly perfect bodies are just a huge money plot. I have grown to realize that we cannot let these things that do not matter or effect our worth as human beings hold such a significant amount of power over us. We are in charge of our own happiness and love for ourselves. ~Blair
I feel like I used to worry about my body and constantly wonder what I would look like down the road; now that I’ve reached a point in my life where I can fully understand what I want for myself, my body is just an afterthought. My body no longer comes first; my desires do, my passions, my goals. All of these things are so much more important and filling to me than anything else. ~Chantal