The post was written and submitted by Grace Russell. Grace is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian working with clients with eating disorders in both a private practice and an inpatient hospital setting. She is very passionate about reducing the stigma of eating disorders and is currently learning how to weave body image practices into her work. In her spare time, Grace will be somewhere in nature, reading novels or having coffee dates. Connect with Grace on Instagram @freeandfull_wellbeing or on her website at www.freeandfull-wb.com
I read an article in a magazine a while ago that completely shifted my way of thinking about bodies. I have always promoted body positivity in my practice and would describe myself as a body positive dietitian. However, as I read this article, I knew I had been missing something. I pondered on why so much effort is aimed at loving our bodies. Why do we have to love our bodies? Is that really the main aim in life? What about devoting more time and attention to other things like hobbies, learning, exploring, building relationships? Surely these are better for our emotional wellbeing than trying to display a positivity around our body parts?
As I have explored this concept with clients, it appears there is mounting pressure to feel happy about how you look, flaunt your body, ‘love the amazing skin you’re in.’ All of these things can be good, but I don’t think that they are the main thing. When I truly think about body positivity, I think about days when I don’t think about my body at all; when I’m invested doing the things I love and am absorbed in my surroundings. That, my friends, is what I call body humility: neutral acceptance rather than particular consciousness of our shape or size.
This is not easy work! We live in a society infiltrated with images and a focus on our physical appearance. There are days we will have negative body thoughts and fixate on how we look. Rather than swimming furiously against this riptide, we can know that these thoughts are just thoughts. Knowing that they are not our reality allows us to start swimming toward our values and living a wholehearted life. I find this truly freeing; our thoughts on our body become less and less so we can fully embrace all life has to offer. After all, body humility is not thinking less of your body, but rather it’s thinking of your body less.
Steps to body humility:
Watch and learn from children
Kids are the least occupied with how their body looks; watch them play and explore. They are so present with the activity in front of them. They are unapologetically being. Practice sinking into the present moment while washing up, having a coffee, chatting to a friend.
Envision your future self
What is your 60-year-old self like? What would s/he be doing? What would you like to invest in or be free from? Thinking about our future self is a great step in gaining perspective on what’s really important in this life.
Reflect on times when you haven’t given your body much thought
What were you doing, and who were you with? Were you listening to a good song, hiking in the bush, laughing with friends? This helps give an idea of where you might be able to find your body humility. Make an intention to do these things and hang out with these people more often.