Our bodies are tools, let’s use them wisely
The truth is that we mask our self-hate through different outlets that we see as “normal”. For some of us, it’s our obsessive compulsive workout habits, dependent relationships or excessive skin care routines. Mine? Is the diet culture that surrounds and convinces us that abusing our bodies is okay. The thinking that our bodies are mold-able and changeable at any given moment.
“Health is wealth”, a phrase that is often drilled into our heads, but what does that really mean? A lot of times we equate health to looking a certain way without fully accepting our bodies for what they are — the vessel that gives us life and the ability to live out our purpose.
Last week, I was watching “Follow This” a Buzzfeed news series on Netflix that was doing a report on whether Bollywood Celebs had gone under the knife to attain their beauty.
The reporter found one actress who openly talked about different fads she had tried recalling, “freezing her fat” to lose some arm weight. She said something along the lines of, “I think that all of us who are in this industry know that our bodies are tools that we use to get roles that we play.”
Growing up as a female in an Indian home, I relate. I know how much shame & scrutiny can be surrounded by not being skinny, light skinned and beautiful. In this context, our bodies are tools to get husbands.
It becomes almost second nature to work on being lighter skinned and doing anything to attain a skinny figure. So normal that you wouldn’t think of it as a disguise for self-hate or self-judgement. Naturally, I have fallen victim to the diet culture many times. So many times (I have tried them all), that I never realized how deep-seeded my hate for my own body was until recently.
In spirituality, you are taught that your body is a tool to aid reaching your full potential, finding purpose and becoming guided by your soul BUT first you must get your health in order & accept yourself.
When I had my spiritual awakening, I thought of body health as looking skinny, eating whatever the next fad diet told me about and convincing myself that this was my new lifestyle. But it would never be a lifestyle because I was miserable.
Why? Because deep down, I am a food addict. I have an unhealthy relationship with food because I have an unhealthy relationship with myself.
My constant pit falls into the diet culture resulted in my own body regressing against me over the years, giving me an unforgivable knee injury forcing me to quit my unhealthy relationship with Bikram Yoga, a lost gallbladder due to weight loss and immediate weight gain, shitty digestion from my surgery & now forcing me to find a lifestyle that I can stick to for life.
Years ago after one of the many incidents, by miracle, I found meditation. Though I have made strides towards my growth & purpose there was one thing holding me back: I didn’t know who I was. I knew what I wanted to do & where I needed to go, but I didn’t identify with any one thing. For example, I knew that I needed to public speak — but would constantly ask myself, “yeah, but about what?”
Deathly afraid of committing to any single career, getting offended by every job title thrown at me, and no hobbies or passions…who was I?
At this realization, astonished at this disconnected now familiar feeling, I was listening to a podcast interviewing Samantha Skelly, author of Hungry for Happiness talking about how most of us don’t realize that we actually hate our bodies, but learning to accept them is where self-love begins and judgement ends.
After all, it’s true that what we reflect on the outside is how we feel on the inside. For example, if we judge someone right off the bat, it’s because we judge ourselves more.
“How do we stop self-hate?” the interviewer asked.
Samantha responds, “If we can move to start feeling neutral about our bodies, that is a stride in a positive direction.”
“And how do you do that?”
“Well.. Can you look at yourself in the mirror and not say one negative thing about yourself?”
Profound, I thought. I knew that I definitely wouldn’t be able to do that. I always thought of my body as something that could be sculpted into anything I wanted if I had the dedication to stick to one diet and one exercise routine. I remember in my 20s I would be in and out of diets and get excited about the next one and how much weight I could lose.
Samantha tells listeners a similar story to mine:
“I had one lady come up to me and tell me that she was excited that she’s getting back on track, losing weight and feeling healthy. When I asked her how she told me that she was starting a new diet plan and had an exercise routine she was committed to do doing. And I looked at her and told her it’s not going to work. It doesn’t work until you can fully remove judgement of yourself and have a relationship with your body.”
This ONE interview had stopped me dead in my tracks — how could I have not seen that my identity is connected to judgement & self-love of myself? How did fad dieting become such a norm for me that it masked my deeper self-hate?
My body had been craving for attention. Attention that I blatantly waived off like it was no big deal. It was so clear now, why I didn’t have an identity, why most of my relationships failed & why I didn’t have a career I was proud of — I was disconnected.
I knew that if I never resolved my own self-hate that I would never know who I truly was. I needed this internal relationship to truly connect to the outer-world.
Today, I am working towards creating a maintainable lifestyle that promotes high return on investment by starting a new healthy relationship with my body that I have never experienced before following one simple mantra:
Because it’s only when you love yourself do you find ways to create healthy unbreakable habits that don’t have immediate results but awesome ROI, get to the root of addiction(s), & finally utilize your body for the tool it was meant to be.