It’s a real drag that most women’s assumptions about their bodies run on only two channels: either positive or negative. Positive thoughts go something like this: Boy, I look great today, I’m really thin, That new wrinkle cream makes me appear years younger, You can hardly see my cellulite when my weight is down, I love how slim this dress makes me look. Negative thoughts go like: who am I kidding—we all know too well the evil thoughts about our bodies. It seems we’re either at one extreme or the other. Wouldn’t it be nice to simply take our bodies for granted in a healthy way (like most men do) and stop living our lives around how they look to us and others?
Although it’s a lot healthier for us not to obsess about how bad we look and dump on ourselves for having fat, flab, love handles, or cellulite, it’s not much better to habitually get all whooped up about how absolutely fabulous we look either—because then we’re terrified of losing that feeling. Many of us believe that if we don’t keep giving ourselves reassurance that we look great (if we ever do), or get it from others, it won’t be true. We flip from one emotion to the other—self-hate to excess pride back to self-hate, etc.
Wouldn’t it be a relief to not get stuck at either end of the spectrum? To go to the beach, play tennis, arrive at a business meeting, head out on a date, wear a new outfit, step on the doctor’s scale, workout, attend a parent-teacher conference, go clothes shopping, jog, dine out, or travel to a family reunion without obsessing about how we’re presenting ourselves. Frankly, I can’t even imagine it, and I bet most of you can’t either. What would fill our heads? What would we agonize and worry about if it weren’t whether we’re too fat or not muscular enough or dressed right or looking particularly old or tired or gorgeous enough today?
For sure there would be a period of uncertainty, a vacuum created by a lack of body thoughts. Maybe we’d get anxious about other parts of our lives, things that really need attention. Maybe we’d think about the past and fill with regret for all our mistakes and failures. But, perhaps not. It’s equally possible that our heads would gradually fill up with our wishes, needs, goals, and yearnings. We might even start doing the things we’ve wanted to do for a long time if we hadn’t forgotten and let body think take the place of authentic brain activity. At the least, not thinking about our bodies would keep us present to whatever we’re doing and that, in itself, would be a huge step in the right direction. Make tomorrow “I refuse to think about my body” day and, if you like how you feel, keep up the boycott!