Our struggle with body image
Our struggle with body image
Why do we, as a society, have such a struggle with body image? What is it that is driving us to go to more and more extreme measures to satiate our need to change our appearance, in some instances to such an extent that it disfigures the body? Can we imagine wanting to make similar changes to a newborn baby?
In order for us to be able to critique ourselves with so much judgment and self-loathing, something else must be informing us on how we ‘should be’ in order to ‘fit in’, to be accepted and seen as being beautiful. What voice are we listening to, in order to not just allow us to make these changes to our own bodies, but for many of us to feel compelled to do so? The boom in popularity has led to an entire cosmetic/medical/body modification industry being developed to satisfy this demand for change.
Dieting and exercise used to be the go-to solution to ‘change’, trim and tone our bodies if we wanted to ‘improve’ the way we looked – only the super-elite, mega-wealthy had access to plastic surgeons. Now, far more extreme and intrusive practices are becoming quite commonplace to completely change our appearance, such as:
- Getting eye tattoos
- Unprecedented types of plastic surgery that carry extraordinary levels of risk to life
- Having implants or sections of our body removed or even relocated somewhere else
No judgment on what people may or may not choose to do with their own body, rather a serious question for us all to ponder on: what is it that drives us to feel the need to take these measures? How did we become so dissatisfied with ourselves and the way we look?
As babies we are enormously sensitive bundles of pure joy, but life isn’t set up to support our sensitivity, rather the complete opposite – our senses are continuously being bombarded with projections of how we should live, through judgment, comparison and competition from others, often from those closest to us.
From a young age we can feel that we don’t fit in, that there is something wrong with us and so starts the evilest process that many, if not all of us, have experienced, where we start to disconnect from our true essence, the Soul, in our quest to ‘fit in’ and be unconditionally loved, just as we were as a baby, or even just loved. Why is this process so evil? Because it’s a setup to specifically disconnect us from the innate sacred beauty and grace of our being.
In connection with our Soul we can read exactly what is going on around us energetically; we can know whether something is true or not. Our essence, felt through our body, is like a sacred pulse in our every movement guiding us to stay with our truth. Without this inner compass, we become lost, a rudderless vessel bobbing around in the sea of life, to be used and abused, taken for a ride. With all the other rudderless vessels lurching around us, this can appear to be completely normal. However, this is not ‘normal’ – in spite of it being very prevalent, living in this way is contrary to our innate essence.
When we are born we are perfect in our human imperfection, there is nothing that we need to change, rather, the real challenge is to learn how to live in a world that is set up to pull us away from the truth of who we are so it can inform us on how we ‘should be’ to be liked, loved and successful in life. How do we stay settled within ourselves amongst such turmoil, when those around us are also succumbing to the ‘abandon ship’ approach, quickly leading to us abusing our bodies through food, alcohol, drugs, harsh exercise, whatever our poison, to quell the unrest from feeling the loss of having disconnected from our Soul.
Very few of us have been raised to know that we are already everything we need to be in life and then supported to live in connection with our Soul.
Instead, we grow up in families where comparison and jealousy are rife, and being attacked by ‘family’ – the people who are supposed to love and take care of us – is shocking and profoundly destabilising. We can end up ‘pretzelling’ ourselves to be whatever is being asked of us, just to lessen the abuse.
We obediently go and give Grandpa a kiss, even though we don’t want to be anywhere near him as our whole body is screaming stay away. We sell out to play our part in ‘the family’. We can feel what is expected of us, we ignore and override the knowing we have deep within that we despise ‘playing any part in this game’, yet, even more, we want the attacks to stop. We acquiesce to gain ‘approval’, we excel at school for the recognition, we want to have others see us as pretty or handsome, we become a willing part of the ‘setup’. It might seem to be working, but to what end for the ‘players’?
It’s an exhausting game that looks ‘good’ on the outside, but within we’re all still in abusive relationships with ourselves and each other. How far we have strayed from our connection with that gorgeous bundle of joy we always were and innately always remain.
When we chose to re-connect with our Soul and start to deepen our love for ourselves, to set standards on what we will and won’t accept from ourselves and from others, this is when we start to expose all the pockets of abuse that we had ‘thought’ were normal. This is a tremendously healing process, allowing us to nominate each aspect in our life that has been a lie and let it go so it can’t grab us again.
In disconnection from our Soul, we are targets to be fed all sorts of lies, including what is ‘wrong’ with the way we look. We can easily develop an absolute disgust for our bodies and be totally manipulated into believing that we need to make radical changes.
This feeling of self-loathing is not true, it is fed to us through the obvious idealised images in media and more insidiously through the way we look at and appraise each other. We know the fact of these thoughts and exchanges that we have with each other, how crushing a look can be without any words being spoken. We hate being attacked, but equally become the attacker to divert the knife towards someone else.
When we re-connect with our Soul, we expose the lies for what they are, the game is up, there is nothing but love for all that we are and as we re-claim this for ourselves it becomes so much easier for all those abusive patterns of using food, alcohol, relentless exercise that we use to numb how we are feeling, to drop away, as we don’t need them anymore. Will we still have moments where we are drawn to the fridge when we’re not hungry? Yes, we might, but as we continue to deepen so does our understanding that life is a process of continual evolution.
There will be many bumps in the road and what’s important is how we deal with them. Beating ourselves up just encourages that ‘chatter’ of lies in our head to prevail, whereas allowing the space to look at what may have nudged us off course brings a further deepening of love and appreciation for our body – not for how it looks but for what it is able to express, move, breathe and live.
When we return to living the truth of who we are, there isn’t a cell in our body that would want to change anything about the way we look. If that thought pops in, we know we’ve hit a bump in the road, what will our next move be . . . ?
. . . To succumb to the imposing nudge to seek relief by entertaining the familiar contemptuous self-critique and fantasising over how extreme our next ‘make over’ can be,
To let ourselves fall deeper within to the exquisite beholding love of our Soul, offering us the simplicity of living in connection with all that we innately are, feeling the immeasurable beauty of all that we are inextricably part of.