When Olivia Newton-John sang “let me hear your body talk” she wasn’t talking about mindfulness and body positivity, but today I am.
In my previous post I wrote about the necessity of body positivity for men, which is something I’m very passionate about. It’s something that I am conscious of and reminded of my earlier years in school, feeling uncomfortable because my body wasn’t quite as ripped or “masculine” as some of my peers.
A few years ago, I was struck by a photoshoot featuring one of my favorite actors. I still remember the photos of a nude Guillermo Diaz (Huck, from Scandal, NSFW obviously) like it was yesterday. Here you had photos of an “average man”, and not some hyper masculine superhero actor or the guys in porn. It was really soothing, even as a adult, to see that kind of representation. It goes without saying that those pictures were a revelation, particularly for queer men of color.
Talking To Your Body is a Two-Way Conversation
Now when I think about body positivity I think about the daily conversation that I have with my body. I think about what I tell myself about my body and I try my best to listen to what my body tries to tell me. To me, body positivity is about practicing mindfulness and loving compassion towards myself.
When I wake up in the morning and have a hard time getting out of bed, I listen to my body and investigate…without criticism. Does it feel too cold to get out of bed? Did I get enough sleep? Is my body sore from some exercise or activity from before? Asking these questions without condemnation helps me understand what my needs are. I get ideas of how I can take care of myself, and my body, that day. Our bodies talk to us and it’s up to us to listen.
The other half of the body positivity equation is also how I talk to myself about my body. When I’m feeling a little thicker than I’d like, do I stand in the mirror and stare at a midsection that’s bigger than I’d ideally like and berate for myself for enjoying life (and food)? I try not to. That’s not healthy and only leaves me feeling more negatively about myself. Instead, I try to focus on the wonderful memories I’ve made drinking and eating wonderful food (with that tummy) with the special people in my life. I tell myself that love handles are a reminder of just that…love! Well, and sometimes onion rings, but I consider that love too.
It’s also important, in my opinion, to speak to your body with loving kindness and compassion. After all, your body is the vessel that carries you throughout this life on a daily basis. I think our bodies deserve some gratitude for that! I always make it a point to utter “thank you” to my body after any workout or any challenging day.
Cultivate Your Own Relationship with Your Unique Body
We all have different relationships with our bodies. Some of us deal with chronic pain while others deal with gender dysphoria which make it difficult to practice body positivity. I understand that. For others, it might be easier to appreciate your body. And, of course, body dissatisfaction exists on a continuum from loving everything about it all the way down to pure hatred (with most folks falling in the middle somewhere).
My challenge to you is, try to thank your body for not what it looks like but just one way in which your body functions well or serves you. Today, I’m thankful for my body allowing me to enjoy play time with my pup Nomi with relative ease. That’s definitely something special that my body allows me to do.
What are you thankful to your body for?
Jor-El is Co-founder of Viva Wellness and a foodie and film buff. He most often writes about mental health, relationships, food and mindfulness. When he’s not busy working, he typically can be found lounging or walking around NYC with his pup Nomi.