Nov. 5, 2015, 9 p.m.
I was chatting with a friend recently when she embarrassedly mentioned something she wanted to change about her body.
“I don’t know if I want to tell you,” she squeaked out tentatively.
“It’s fine; just tell me,” I responded with a smile.
“But I feel conflicted about this change in myself; it makes me feel like I might not be fully accepting of my body.”
I laughed and said, “Who is?”
But I also followed up and said: “People often mistakenly think that body acceptance means you never change, but that couldn’t be true even if we wanted it to be. Our bodies are always changing, so acceptance can never be a static thing.”
I believe deeply that body acceptance is always shifting, at least a little, because so are we; to me, it’s an indisputable fact that change is inevitable. Every day, things about our bodies are changing. Some are imperceptible (like what’s happening on a cellular level). Some we know about but don’t register most of the time (like hair growing, skin cells shedding, etc.). And some are things about our bodies that we might want to change.
For example, we might want to move our bodies more because it feels good (hello, walk I took this morning on a beautiful day!). We might shift what we eat from season to season because our bodies are craving something different (nothing is less appealing to me than a salad in the winter; but in the summer, I love it!). We might want to make our bodies more flexible so we can keep ourselves resilient in the face of a potential fall (after years of falling constantly, I finally started working with the mobility in my feet and ankles, and now it happens much less often).
Body acceptance doesn’t mean you never change. To me, it means you tune into your body’s current needs and meet them based on moving, eating and otherwise nourishing yourself in ways that work for you — not based on the scale.
Here’s the thing: you can make anything a hammer over your own head. A hammer can include the false belief that there’s an end point to body acceptance, and/or the idea that you’ll never get “there.”
The point isn’t to get a new hammer.
It’s to put the hammer down.
Anna Guest-Jelley is the founder and CEO (Curvy Executive Officer) at Curvy Yoga, a training and inspiration portal with lots of love and support for women of every size, age and ability. Anna is also a writer, teacher, and lifelong champion for women’s empowerment and body acceptance. She is the author of, “Permission to Curve: Inspiring Poses for Curvy Yogis & Their Teachers,” and co-editor of “Yoga and Body Image: 25 Personal Stories About Beauty, Bravery & Loving Your Body” (Llewellyn, Fall 2014), and has many more published pieces. You can read Anna’s blog at www.curvyyoga.com and follow her @CurvyYoga.