bootsanddressPart of being human means living in our bodies. For some, their body is a huge part of their personality – for other it isn’t, or it feels restrictive, or they can’t or don’t appreciate what they have. By appreciate, I don’t mean eating healthily and exercising (these things are relative and the messages are conflicting; I would never judge anyone for their eating habits or exercise habits – after all, everyone’s different), I mean being joyful, appreciating what your body can do, what it does for you every day. Or what it helps you achieve. What it helps you to express. Being deaf means body language is part of how I read situations, or see people’s moods. Our bodies are our own.

They are also sites of political and social battlegrounds, through no fault of our own. Being a woman, for example, means my body is subject to social commentary, perhaps more so because I’m a fat woman. I’m comfortable with the word fat – for me it doesn’t have any negative connotations, it’s just a descriptive word. I’ve taken back control of my own body, and embodiment, by redefining it in my own terms. Every time someone says something negative about their body, it makes me sad. Your heart pumps blood around your body, your face smiles, you get goosebumps when it’s cold, you can get vitamin D through your skin from sunlight. Just some of the incredible things that your body does.

Part of the problem is, of course, that society labels people. It puts a label and connotations on you because of the way you look, or behave or the way you dress. Sometimes it feels as if there is no room for self definition, to express yourself using your own words, your own actions and clothes. The irony being that even when you do express yourself, and have the freedom to express yourself, you still get labelled and categorised. Sometimes, that labelling and categorisation might be positive though. I consider the word fat to be positive, because to me, it is just part of who I am – I consider myself part of a body positive community that celebrates bodies in all shapes and sizes.

I celebrate self expression, above all. I think its amazing when people reach that part within themselves when they accept their bodies. It takes a lot of work, and I have to work at it every day. Self acceptance and body acceptance are things you work at every day. Some days are hard – after all, we get bombarded by all kinds of messages out there, that tell us to hate our bodies, to buy stuff, to go on that diet, to cover up, to punish our bodies because we’re not perfect. Perfection is a myth. Imperfection is beautiful and human, and real.

Body acceptance means, as much as possible, approving of and loving your body, despite its “imperfections”, real or perceived. That means accepting that your body is fatter than some others, or thinner than some others, that your eyes are a little crooked, that you have a disability that makes walking difficult, that you have health concerns that you have to deal with — but that all of that doesn’t mean that you need to be ashamed of your body or try to change it. Body acceptance allows for the fact that there is a diversity of bodies in the world, and that there’s no wrong way to have one. ~ Golda Poretsky.

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