Happy New Year!
This 2016 I’m proposing we don’t spend our time shedding ‘FAT’ and instead shed what really needs reducing…our self-loathing.
I do advocate treating your body well (I may even make a badge with ‘eat kind’ on it.) And my body does like LOTS of nice good helpful foods which I plan to eat MORE of in 2016, not less. Juicing’s fun too – but as part of a wider eating experience. Food is a blessing in my life. I’m fortunate to have choices in what I eat, many people around the world don’t (mainly due to the West importing or buying land for animal agriculture…but that’s another post for a different day)
But I always find January’s carnival celebration of hate and promotion of low-self-esteem really quite disturbing.
It has nothing to do with health.
What I find really hard to digest, (see what I did there?), as someone who’s been whole-fooding for an age, is the diet industry entering the ‘Health Food’ arena wearing a dirty hand-made masquerade mask. There it smiles, dancing and shaking its arse like we can’t tell the difference between what’s healthy-eating and self-punishment. We need to be aware that the diet industry is changing its language to be more acceptable to women deepening their relationships with their bodies. Note: it’s changing it’s language, not its attitude or produce. We need to keep our eyes and minds open.
Healthy doesn’t necessarily mean what they say it means. In many cases they’re just re-badging SlimFast-esque powders and marketing it in a way that enables people to feel less embarrassed talking about it on their lunch breaks. We used to have the cabbage soup diet when I was younger, now it’s a ‘juice powder’ you pay a fortune for and drink it fuckin cold – cold cabbage! That’s surely worse. More expensive and cold? Things have gone backwards not forwards. You’d be better making a batch of cabbage burgers for a quid. But, I’m digressing. The industry is a topic for a different post.
What I really want to say is…health doesn’t start on the outside. Health is an inside job. When you do the nitty-gritty inner-work of getting to know yourself, what you stand for, what your values, principles and talents are – you realize you don’t have time to hate and punish yourself for simply having a physical appearance.
You realize it doesn’t make any sense whatsoever to judge your worth based on racist, ablest, capitalist ideals. Want to finally be happy with you? Stop looking for permission to validate yourself from a society whose system is based on profiting from your pain – they want you to feel less than, so you buy a product to solve it.
January seems to be the time when the diet/fat/beauty/industries rear up to give women the mixed message that hurting themselves is self-love. That if they fall outside the purposefully unattainable beauty standard (i.e.: white, thin, young, able-bodied, and unblemished) then we are not fulfilling our role in the world. (I’m not anti-thin, nor anti-white – I’m just aware there is a method to the industry’s psychopathy).
In 2016 we have an opportunity not to listen. To develop a wider, deeper, more nourishing relationship with our bodies. One that offers us the chance to move beyond beauty, by examining beauty. To delve into the philosophical reality of beauty. What is it? Where does it preside? Who does it belong to? What is it’s worth? Is it real? Is it inclusive or exclusionary in nature? Perhaps such questions will foster compassion in light of so many of us attaching our self-worth in such a transitory place?
These questions also offer us an extra opportunity to dismantle racism, ableism, and ageism as they present themselves in our lives and in the lives our our sisters. These isims hold everyone to ransom. Dismantling them takes time and effort, but all deep development of the soul does. Besides, the status-quo is hurting too many people – including ourselves. I’m not promoting dismantling beauty concepts to reconstruct with notions that every body is beautiful, as beauty, at the moment, has attached to it the insidious notion of being an objectified sexualized commodity. Sexualized worth is an oxymoron. Being all about the perceiver, not the persieved, if the power lies outside the sovereignty of self it can’t be sustainable. Instead, I’d like to see a reconstruction around the idea that every body has intrinsic value for simply being in existence, as a functioning miracle of such intricacy it still boggles our science to this very day. It is in the intricacy, delicacy, harmonized synchronized functioning of every system combined that makes every body beautiful. Not it’s sexualized worth, which is compartmentalized and externalized at best.
Anyway, the challenge is still before us.
2016 can be the year we try on a new set of beliefs. We can wear a suit of unapologetic disinterest in all things abusive and shaming. Did I say abusive? Yes I did. Well come on. I’ve heard a lot of people speak about themselves in a manner they would NEVER allow a partner to speak to about them. Indeed if a partner did speak this way to them, they would call it abuse and LEAVE.
Look, we’ve all been fooled into believing something false at some point or other in our lives. That’s ok. We all live, love, grow and learn from our miss-thinking. If you take one thing away from reading this, I hope it’s the realization that you’ve been hoodwinked. You’ve been sold a lie. A lie which tells you your body is a problem. Your body is NOT a problem to be solved. Your body is always your friend. Take a deep breath…there, feel that hug from your lung-pals?
Even when you are in pain or ill – your body is still your friend. Your symptoms are often your body trying its hardest to get you healthy again. Or tell you something. Too often we demonize its efforts. Too often we separate ourselves from what is really happening inside our own bodies. And FAR TOO many of us have bought the lie that the body’s purpose is to be perceived as beautiful by others.
Is that it? Your body is here to be perceived, judged, and valued by others? Dare you tell that to your lungs, or central nervous system, or heart. Look, you are a living, breathing miracle. All the micro-structures, the millions and trillions of cells, the thousands of nerves firing, impulses being monitored, hormones being regulated, blood flowing, heart pumping, lungs expanding every single moment of every single day…no one can place a value on that.
What’s more, when they try, (because haters exist) you have a right to tell them to go fuck themselves. They don’t get to decide your worth. You do.
Yes I acknowledge we’ve all internalized messages from society and have been trained to seek consensus, so deciding to respect, care for, and nourish ourselves can be a challenge. That’s why I suggest a 2016 Self-loathing Detox!
In 2016 let’s make an effort to care MORE about ourselves. To spend MORE time cuddling our bodies. To spend MORE time in praise of our bodies than on inner-self-criticism. It is possible to get out of our body’s way and focus on the MORENESS of ourselves. Shedding self-loathing isn’t easy, but is certainly a more purposeful than a crash diet and sustainable than hating yourself.
If we want ‘clean conscious living‘, let’s start with how we talk to ourselves!
It will be a deep internal challenge. One for the brave, rebellious and wild at heart. To start you off, here’s some affirmations to help you on your way…
- My body mass index doesn’t determine my destiny
- My body is my life-sustaining best friend
- My body is mine; I claim sovereignty of how I view, relate, and interact with my body
It’s time to opt out of the collective body-shaming of women this January. All it does is set us up to continue the degradation throughout the year. Remember, fat is a feminist, racial, spiritual, and economic issue. As women we have better things to spend our time, intelligence, and effort on. Shed the hate and make space for your dreams, ambitions, and authentic connection with your inner world. You will flourish. You will become powerful. You will become time rich too.
How will you spend all this time you used to spend on hating your body?
- Listen to music
- Read books
- Make silly faces in the mirror or into your phone and post them on Instagram.
- Make your belly bulge into a face, complete with googly eyes.
- Make love to yourself; deeply passionately noisily (maybe even vigorously).
- Write a book
- Write a song
- Write a poem.
- Memorize your favorite play, movie, poem, or book chapter by heart.
- Pee yourself laughing at videos of dogs in socks on YouTube.
- Learn to play an instrument
- Walk in nature – hug trees till they blush.
- Learn a new language
- Start an online business…maybe selling all your old bits of tat
- Volunteer at a soup kitchen
- Sing: go out into nature and belt out your favorite song – loud, badly,
cathartically and wildly. Maybe even break a sweat. Maybe even leave nature out of it, and warble your lungs out on the bus.
- Tell more people to mind their own business.
- Make friends who love ALL of you and don’t encourage bonding through self-loathing. You know, people who want to go to the movies or something, anything, other than complaining about how worthless they are or other women are.
- Watch great Oscar winning films – with popcorn.
- Have sex with someone who laughs at your jokes.
- Be friends with people who know you digest food and so will fart occasionally (often) and will just smile.
- Grow a potted plant.
- Take acting lessons.
- Make body art. Put music on, take all your clothes off, cover yourself in paint, and roll around on the floor. (Make sure you put paper down on the floor first).
- Start a campaign to support something you feel passionate about – food for all, freedom for animals, make peace a reality – be the change you want to see and all that.
- Start a blog
- Walk a friends dog, or your own. (weird to walk your mates and leave your own at home)
- Make a sock puppet, or two
- Take an evening class
- Join a choir
- Bird watch (the feathered variety. No stalking please.)
- Write letters to your friends and relatives – use stamps & envelopes
- Make a film (maybe using said sock puppets)
- Volunteer for a charity or in a hospital
- Meditate – or if you don’t know how, learn
- Give yourself a reflexology massage
- Paint a picture, or the house, or organise a community painting day of derelict building/walls/structures to spruce them up
- Catch up on DIY (this one’s for me, my house is a sty)
- Learn kick boxing (great for sorting out shamers)
And remember to be super kind to yourself as you give up the hate. Be kind to other women too – we are all just trying our best to navigate our lives from what we know. Listen to your inner judgments – what you say about others speaks of your own inner relationship with yourself. Therein lies the key to your own growth.
Wishing you a blessed 2016 full of Health without Hate and filled to the brim with MORE MORE & MORE of YOU as a whole person!
Big love to you,
Alex Clarke – editor & founder
Alex Clarke is author of Awaken your Inner Faerie in 30 Days – learn to live from your creative core published by 6th Books & winner of Prediction Magazine’s Publishing Competition.
Things no one will tell fat girls – Jes Baker
Knowing Otherwise: Race, Gender, and Implicit Understanding – Alexis Shotwell
Writing on the Body: Female Embodiment and Feminist Theory – Katie Conboy
Mixed Fat Chick – Pia Schiavo-Campo
The Body is not an apology – Sonya Renee Taylor
© Alex Clarke 2016