You Don't Have to Like Your Body to Love Your Body

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Last week, I shared a piece in the New York Times about how the wellness industry is duping intelligent women into believing pseudoscience claims about health and is promoting weight loss under the guise of wellness. The author discusses the idea of ending her relationship with diet culture and looking towards intuitive eating, a practice that’s been around for decades, for answers.

I love that the author touched on a few important fallacies of the wellness industry, and what a healthy relationship with food actually looks like. Namely, she described how binge eating is a symptom of dieting, that food should have no moral value, that emotional eating is part of being human, and many many more o-m-g yes points. If you haven’t read it already, go do that now and then come back to read where I disagree with her.

I’m with her until she says that loving her body is an unrealistic and limiting goal. In her piece she says,

“…I am probably never going to love my body, and that’s O.K. I think loving our bodies is not only an unrealistic goal in our appearance-obsessed society but also a limiting one. No one is telling men that they need to love their bodies to live full and meaningful lives. We don’t need to love our bodies to respect them.”

I hear her and I’m with her, however, what I find limiting is her shallow definition of love. Having a deep, unwavering and unconditional love for your body IS respect, and it IS crucial in order to live a life free from the clutch of diet culture. Loving your body goes much deeper than liking what you see in the mirror. Unfortunately, that’s a radical concept in today’s society.

Body love might not look like running down the streets naked, and it doesn’t have to mean posting pictures in a bikini for the world to see, but it does mean looking past what you see as imperfections and still trusting your body, respecting her*, and listening to her.

*I generally use ‘her’ instead of ‘it’ to refer to woman’s bodies as a form of respect, but use whatever you identify with.

Unconditional body love is different than body obsession or infatuation. It’s respecting your body enough to not put her through the ringer with unhealthy diets and grueling workouts whose sole purpose is to burn calories. It’s fueling her with nourishing foods that help her function optimally, and leaving room for play foods that feed the soul. Practicing unconditional body love is what keeps you from continually getting sucked down the yo-yo diet rabbit hole. It’s a messy, imperfect, and challenging practice, but worth it.

I like to compare body love to the love you have for a child. Of course you don’t like everything your child says or does, and some days it’s very hard to even like being around them (or so I hear from lots of honest moms), but you still unconditionally love your child, want the best for them, and treat them with respect.

Unconditional body love means accepting that your body is the physical vessel that carries us through life, not the determining factor for if we are worthy and acceptable to others. It means that we love her no matter what, and we don’t expect anything in exchange for our love.

When I decided to commit to an unconditional love affair with my body, I had to really change my mindset around what ‘loving my body’ actually meant. I committed to loving my body even if I didn’t receive praise, approval, or status through her in the fitness industry. I committed to loving my body even if she wasn’t in “perfect” physical health or tip-top shape. I committed to loving my body even when she needed to gain weight past the point I had deemed acceptable. I no longer expect anything from her in exchange for my love, I just simply love, honor, and listen to her as much as I can. Trust me, some days are harder than others, but it’s a commitment I plan on keeping, despite what society tries to tell me.

If you’re curious about how exactly you get to a point of unconditional body love, check out The Body Love Retreat I’m hosting in Tulum March 27-31, 2020. We’ll be diving deeper into this topic and you’ll leave with a host of tools to help you leave diet culture for good and commit to unwavering, unconditional body love.