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.
Self-Acceptance isn’t selfish.
I’ve learned that body acceptance isn’t about selfishness, but about self-acceptance, which cannot be fully realized until I release this idea that I can’t be beautiful and realized while also uplifting and learning about other individual’s journeys. Moving forward, this class has given me perspective into interaction with other people knowing that they have stories and experiences that maybe I cannot understand, but that I know impacted them in ways such that my own experiences have impacted me. Body image is so much more than how you perceive yourself, it’s how you hold yourself, how you behave around others, and going forward I know that I need to comprehend and respect that in every facet of my life. ~Howie
Our bodies do not hinder us the way our minds do.
My physical appearance doesn’t hinder me from anything, but my self-esteem/mentality does. I had to realize that in order to first begin my journey to self-love. ~Samantha
My body’s job is NOT to please others.
I realize now that my body is not something that society can say is wrong or unattractive because it is not my body’s job to be pleasing for others. My body’s job is to take me on my life adventures, to be my vehicle and if I am not taking care of my body or if I keep punishing my body then I am essentially just stranding my vehicle and not going anywhere. ~Timbre
It is not any of your business what anyone else thinks of you.
Before going into this class, I knew in my head that a lot of people’s body image issues are tied to media, family, culture, and peers, but actually learning the statistics and numbers behind those truths taught me about the society that we live in. We live in a society that tells us that if we are “overweight,” we are lazy and disgusting. If we are “underweight,” we need to eat more. If you love yourself, you’re conceited and full of it. If you hate the way you look, you just need to love yourself. There is no way to please society. No matter what you feel about yourself, it will always be thrown back in your face. What I’ve learned during the course of this semester is that no one’s opinion of yourself matters more than your own. Your opinion is the only one that should matter to you. If you like you, what other people think of you or what society thinks you should be is all background noise. ~Melody
It is time to end the war.
I think things really clicked for me when the two ladies came to talk about Health at Every Size. They talked about how our bodies are like a vehicle to get us through this life. And that is exactly what we had been saying throughout the entire semester. But for some reason, it really clicked for me when these two women were talking about it. I left that class realizing that my body is not an enemy. Food is not an enemy. I realized that this is my one and only body. This is my vehicle for the rest of my life. I don’t want to live my whole life at war with my own body. This body has gotten me through so much. ~Becky