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What are we going to do about our bodies?

How do you feel about your body?

What kinds of messages have you gotten throughout your life about your body and its place in the world?

Maybe you have heard that your body is too small or too large? Perhaps you were told that you needed to change your body in some way?

Body dissatisfaction doesn’t just happen. We live in a culture that emphasizes weight, appearance, and the control of one’s body as linked to experiencing happiness and satisfaction in life. We see images of these ideal bodies on our devices, in our shows, and popping up all around us. Our society participates in and promotes these practices. For example, diet culture is ever evolving. From talk about “macros” to the whitewashing of yoga practices, we are constantly being marketed ways to be “healthier”. These messages then find their way into our families and our social circles.

Of course we internalize these messages about our bodies. We scrutinize our appearance, considering how we can modify ourselves to better meet the ideal in our minds. And for most of us that’s just not going to happen in this lifetime. What we see in the media and from celebrities is often manufactured, i.e. botox. So we don’t get real life images of what it looks like to live in a body for 40, 50, 60, 70 years presented to us. Instead we see these digitally and surgically altered bodies and we are often left with a sense of profound dissatisfac

tion in our own.

The common assumption in our size focused culture is that a lower weight is better. We hear a lot about BMI and obesity. Medical care is often focused on weight when it’s unrelated to one’s overall health. Research has shown that healthy bodies are not always tied to weight loss. Yet, that is one of the most common topic that doctors approach with patients that are overweight.

What would happen if we worked on embracing and living in our bodies rather than controlling them?

I really appreciate the action of embodiment when considering how we can really live in our bodies.

You are your body. There is no thinking, sensing, loving, longing, relating, remembering, developing self that is not a body. Our bodies are the place of our experience of being human. Our resistance to this is an indication of the cultural legacy of fragmentation we have inherited, the traumas we have endured, and the spiritual and cognitive strategies we have used to distance ourselves from the truth our bodies are telling. Embodiment is the practice of remembering. It is the gentle mending of the divide.-Dr Hillary McBride

Embodiment suggests that we really come home into our bodies. It’s not specifically having a better body image, in fact it suggests rather the opposite. That instead we get comfortable with the realities of our bodies, acknowledging that honoring how our bodies represent our humanity, both strong and fragile at the same time.

I have found that body stuff comes up all the time in counseling. Our bodies are where we experience being human, so we need to get right with them in live more fully in this world. I try to be guided by the Health at Every Size movement both in my professional and personal life. Also I really appreciate the work of Sonya Renee Taylor in stating, The Body is Not an Apology.

Thanks for reading, if you want to talk more feel free to reach out,

Dr Wolff

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Kara E. Wolff, PhD
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