I am pensive for many reasons, because this issue, like all issues of extremism, has deep, convoluted, and far reaching consequences.
Last weekend I was speaking with a couple of people who are trying to come into a healthier relationship with their bodies. One of them remarked that s/he was not doing as well as s/he would like because s/he "still ate chocolate a couple of times a week." I was startled and replied that eating chocolate a couple of times a week was not a problem.
For hir and for most of us, the problems are deep seated emotional hooks snaking back to childhood. The problems are a culture that tells us we can only look one way and be beautiful. The problems are entrenching a deep divide between the cranium and the rest of the physical form. The problems are factory farming instead of locally grown foods. The problems are myriad.
I've written on the importance of being embodied before, but I feel compelled to do so again. And here is the main thing I wish to say:
We need to come into right relationship with our bodies, to not pretend they are not there, to not constantly be in battle with them, to learn to treat them with respect for all they give us, and to learn to treat them well.
The US is a nation of extremists. We have anorexics on one side and people getting gastric bypass surgery on another. We have people on extreme diets on both sides too and it doesn't matter whether they are fat or thin: people eat a steady diet of garbage foods and sodas on one hand and people limit their food choices so severely there is no way to be happy and comfortable on the other. Either case points to a disembodiment, a disconnection from ourselves, a wish to transcend the physical.
I do not wish to transcend the physical. I want to dance joyously, to eat delicious and sustaining food, to drink a glass of good wine, to have great sex. I even want to share an occasional plate of garlic fries.
Celebration of the physical - and our connection with holy Nature - starts with learning to love even one part of ourselves. Give thanks to your beating heart. Give thanks to your lungs that cycle air through you. Aren't their functions amazing? Give thanks to your nose, your skin, your tongue, your ears, your eyes.
Today - whether you are fat, or thin, or in between, whether you are a smoker, athlete, or couch potato - do something nice for your body. Go for a walk or join a local pool. Eat something that tastes good and nourishes the body. Make love. Take a bubble bath or a nap. Do just one thing. One.
And tomorrow, add one more thing, so you are doing two things a day that honor your body. Do two things a day for one month. Then see if you can add one more thing.
Meanwhile, stop buying magazines or watching television that enforces insecurities so you will buy more garbage and send you into a spiral of self loathing that involves more physical abuse of your chosen variety. Get some support to quit smoking, or to cut back on caffeine, or to get more good exercise, or to eat better food. Get some support on working through the deep emotional and mental habits that threaten to drag you back toward hatred, disconnection, and abuse.
We can learn to love ourselves and to be in a good relationship with ourselves. We can learn to be healthier - physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually - in ways that are sustainable.
No one else can do this for us.
Thanks for listening.