We hear it all the time: 'love your body!'. As much as this SOUNDS wonderful, it really is hard. Especially for someone like me, who has (or still does) suffered from ED. It is strange how society confuses us: one moment we are being told that we are too large and need to lose weight, and the next minute we are encouraged to love our bodies.
I have a confession to make: I do not love my body. There I said it! I DO NOT LOVE IT!
But I'm still living. Loving my body is hard. I still look in the mirror and am not happy. I do not like the way my body looks - my thighs, my stomach, my chest, my behind...etc.
Before you go crazy on me, let me explain. I am recovering from ED. My weight is restored, I am eating enough, and life is getting back to normal. But the body image issue still is there. And it has been with me since I was a little kid. I remember being about six years old and wondering why I had so much fat on my stomach, when other kids did not. So you see, this body image thing has been around for a while. And while I do not love my body, at least I am recovering.
How many people, to be honest, truly love their bodies? I do not know of many people (or anyone, actually) who can look in the mirror and call themselves 'sexy beasts!'. But while we do not all love our bodies, we have learned to appreciate them. What I mean by this is that although I do not adore the way my body looks, I am thankful that I am healthy. I do not have to look in the mirror and love what I see, but I am trying to learn how to accept it. This is my body - my healthy, non-ED body. It does great things for me. My legs help me walk, my hands let me write, my eyes help me see, my brain helps me think, my kidneys remove wastes, my stomach digests food, etc.
While campagins always encourage us to 'love our bodies', I think it is more important that we stop using this cliche. It is such a common phrase that we forget to stop and think about what it really means. It is really possible to, 100% of the time, look at yourself and love everything about it? Likely not. But we can appreciate what our body does for us, or how ir helps us live. We can like certain things about it, like our eyes, our hair, our whatever. Is this wrong? Does this mean we are all ill or have ED or disordered eating? NO! It is reality: we will never love everything about ourselves at once. We are human.
While I am not in love with my body, I have come a long way. I do not love what I see in the mirror, but I do not stare at myself and critcize it, either. I do a quick check in the mirror before leaving to make sure I look presentable, and that is it. No standing in front of my reflection to pick out what I do not like. This has helped me learn that the way I look is only ONE part of life - not the most important thing. As long as I do not have dirt on myself, my reflection is fine.
I guess the point of this post is really to make it clear that recovering from ED does not have to mean that you love your body. Because I do not, and I consider myself to have achieved a lot in recovery. I may not LOVE it, but I appreciate it. I tolerate it. I try not to think about it as often. This helps a lot. Perhaps the key to recovery and success is not necessarily learning to love your body, but maybe it is more of learning to accept or appreciate your body, or to stop focussing so much on it.