3 Steps to Body Love
June 23rd 2017
Imagine a world where every single child wakes up and loves and adores their body. They treasure what they look like. They are not hounded by thoughts of “not good enough”, “too short/tall/dark/pale/skinny/big/etc”, “must change butt/thighs/stomach/arms/legs/face/etc”.
Wouldn’t that be great. I am ever optimistic. But also a pinch realistic.
If the adults around these little minds and hearts see the people they look up to treasuring and nurturing their body without any angst, they will feel it’s completely normal to simply accept themselves as they are.
This week I share my top 3 tips to create a shift in thinking toward loving, adoring, treasuring appreciating our bodies. It has a lot to do with the conditioning we have to let go of.
This week I am going to share with you my top three tips for appreciating, loving, accepting, and treasuring the body you’ve got and what you look like. A lot of us received messaging of what you are is not quite right, something else is better. Honestly, how many of us have received that message in millions of different ways? The content is different, the feeling is the same. Over time when we’re little we’ve just picked up these messages, and slowly we rejected our bodies. We rejected ourselves and the way we look.
For me growing up these were the messages I received: I’m too dark. Fair is beautiful. In South Africa where I was born (I migrated to Australia when I was five years old) in fact in a lot of Indian-populated countries there’s a crème called ‘Fair & Lovely’. You put it on your face and your body so that you become lighter. It’s basically bleach. So that was one message, I’m too dark. I was too short. What else? Just the fact that I was an Indian growing up in Australia, so that’s different and I experienced racism and whatnot.
The older you get the wiser you get (sometimes) and I did wise up a bit. I realised that in hindsight, children will just tease each other for anything and everything. That’s only because inside of them they’ve received the messaging that as they are they’re not enough and they’re not acceptable. Unconsciously they will project that out to other kids. The tall girl gets teased, the short boy, the skinny person, the bigger person, the one with glasses, the one with short hair, the one with red hair, they all get teased. There is no rhyme or reason when it comes to what someone looks like.
That messaging sinks in and we feel as though we don’t belong. We end up learning to not accept ourselves as we are. As we grow older we buy things that make us feel a sense of belonging or we crave different things from different people to give us that acceptance that we’re not giving to ourselves.
1. See people from a bird’s eye, an eagle’s eye point of view.
We often get caught up in our own story and in our own mind. Take yourself out of your body and look down at humanity, at people, at humans, tall, short, small, young, old… all of it, and you just see it for the colourful colour wheel that it is. The multidimensional, multifaceted beautiful thing that humanity is. Look at each culture and look at each country of people. Bodies – I’m talking about how people look.
There’s a great quote from Tina Fey in her book where talks about how society wants you to have this mix-match body perfection. Here’s the quote in full:
The message is the perfect human being doesn’t exist because we chop and change and dissect people and put together what we think is the perfect person. If you’re not quite that, you’re off the mark when it comes to beauty. And so, you need to change, you need to get a nose job, you need to have fillers put in your butt or your calves or your cheeks, you need to have your wrinkles ironed out, you need to straighten your hair or curl your hair or whatever it is to make the ideal.
When you look at humanity, you look at all the different types of people, there’s just so many variations that when you look at the people that you come from, you look fine and normal. I used to get teased because I had a big nose. I don’t think it’s that big anymore. Maybe my face has grown into it. At the end of the day, it’s my grandfather’s nose. My dad’s got the same nose, my grandfather did, probably generations back have had this nose. I can’t be born with a nose that’s from a Japanese lady or from an African lady. It’s just not going to happen. I’ve got an Indian nose. It’s a South Indian Telegu nose. That’s part of India that we hail from.
When you look at it like that like you’re not just rejecting yourself or picking it apart, you’re literally disowning your whole heritage and ancestry. This line has brought you into the world and that’s why you look the way you do.
You can see it for the absurdity that it is.
Look at humanity from a bird’s eye point of view. Look at the different cultures and where people come from and see that you are the direct product of whatever ancestry is coming through your blood and genetics. When you want someone else’s something we often we think of a particular person (Jennifer Lopez’s body or Michelle Pfeiffer’s eyes or Anne Hathaway’s skin) and fixate on them. Take a step back and look at their heritage and where they’ve come from and take a step back and look at where you’ve come from and recognise that the way you look is part of your history and your family’s history. By rejecting yourself you’re rejecting your family and everything they’ve been through and everything they stand for.
2. Recognise that the cultural standard is bat-shit crazy
We always want what we don’t have and that is stemming from the ego. Recognise the madness for what it is – what I have is not good enough, I need someone else’s. What I have is just not right.
I remember when I was a kid and I was at school and we were sitting around a circle in the playground. I would’ve been under twelve because it was primary school. And there were about ten of us, girls, sitting in a circle. Someone had just had their hair cut and we were all commenting on it. What ended up happening was that every single girl there in their vulnerability shared with the group whose hair they wanted. And it was never their own.
The girl with the black hair wanted the redhead’s hair, the girl with the curly hair hated her curly hair and the pinstripe hair. The one with the straight hair wanted some waves. It was just this weird thing that I was witnessing, and I remember I had similar thoughts as well. I wanted my hair to either be straight or curly. I didn’t like the fact that it was somewhere halfway. And I remember thinking oh my gosh, everyone here is so pretty, everyone’s hair belongs to them, and yet we want someone else’s.
And at such a young age it kind of dawned on me that that is quite crazy. If only they accepted themselves they would be happy. I could recognise it in them that if they just accepted their hair for being amazing because they looked so good (I thought they all looked so lovely) then they would be happy and then the game would end.
And so, I reflected on that and I took it on board. I remember from that moment I would catch myself wanting someone else’s something. All because of that hair circle. It was absurd. I remind myself to remember the absurdity. The culture, the conditioning is bat-shit crazy.
3. To accept your body, you must recognise that you are not your body.
Who you are lies in a dimension that’s beyond your body, beyond your mind, beyond your thinking. In this place you will find your true self. Your true self is the space between thoughts. You’re not your thoughts. Who’s listening to your thoughts if you’re your thoughts? Who is listening to your thoughts? Who is telling yourself oh my gosh, these thoughts are crazy. Oh gosh, I’ve been so stressed lately, my mind’s running a million miles an hour. Who’s saying that? It’s the witness. You can recognise your thoughts as separate from you. You are not your thoughts.
In the same way you’re not your body. Your body changes. It grows, it gets older, it has babie. It changes. It’s not who you are. When you die, you’ll realise you’re not your body. Your body gets left behind. It becomes ash. You’re not your body. And so when you recognise that ah, my body is the house in which I live in, it changes everything. It is just like that quote, your body is your temple. Look after your temple. You really get a sense of that when you realise I’m not my body, I’m not identified as this. That false identification means you’re really attached to it and it becomes a source of pain as you receive other people’s judgments about your body.
When you recognise I’m not my body, this is my home and my temple. I have to look after it, exercise it, eat proper food, sleep, drink water, etc. It becomes more a responsibility rather than a trophy that needs to be perfect and needs to bring you in compliments so that you can accept yourself and love yourself. No, it’s not a trophy. It’s your temple. Your journey is to find ways in which to bring that love and acceptance into your experience that’s separate from your body. It’s only when you reject your body that you then need the acceptance and approval of others. We want them to do the work that we are not willing to do for ourselves.
That’s the third one, to see your body as a temple. It’s your responsibility. It’s something to be appreciated and it looks after you. It’s with you till your dying breath.
Your body is not your ticket to compliments.
Compliments are great. Accept them, say thank you that was so lovely for you to say. Accept that love that people are giving to you, but don’t put so much pressure on your body to bring you in acceptance and compliments. That’s not its role.
Its role is for you to experience this planet, to experience this world through your five senses. Who you are is in the dimension beyond your body, beyond your thoughts. You’re the witness behind it, timeless. Your body will age but you won’t. That’s why some people that are 90 still feel like they’re 21. They don’t feel as old as their body suggests that they are. It’s different. There’s a timeless quality to who you truly are.
So those are my three tips for appreciating and loving the body you have. Number one is to take a bird’s eye view and know that you come from a lineage of people that look like you, and so to reject that and to want something else is to wish you were born in a different culture, in a different place.
Two, recognise (sorry about the swearing but sometimes it’s appropriate) the culture is bat-shit crazy. This idea of wanting to be different and something else other than what you are is simply the ego telling you to not be satisfied with your life, to not be satisfied and full with who you are and where you are. So recognise the madness.
There was ‘Fair & Lovely’ in South Africa wanting us to be bleached, and then Australia where I grew up on the beach all my friends were putting tanning lotion on to be darker. So at around fifteen I think it was, I realised the culture is bat-shit crazy. We’re buying in to this idea that what we are is not enough and we need to be different.
The tide is turning, watch the shift in marketing to women
We’re not doing it anymore and the tide is changing, you can see it. Watch the advertisements. Watch how companies are selling products to us now. They’re no longer trying to make you feel shameful about the way you look. Now all the messaging is about empowering girls and women. Eat this breakfast cereal and you’ll feel empowered and you’ll feel like you’re doing something good for yourself. The messaging is changing because we are shifting and that is such a good thing. That’s what we’re going to be passing on to our daughters.
And the third way to appreciate and love your body is to recognise it’s your temple. It is the home of your soul, your spirit. It is not there to bring in compliments for you to feel accepted and loved. No. That is your inner work to do, to feel accepted and loved. Your body is not responsible for that. It’s not meant to be your vehicle for compliments or acceptance. It is your temple. It’s your home. Keep it clean, keep it happy, keep it healthy. It becomes a responsibility, rather than a burden.
So those are my three tips. I hope they helped. It’s a journey to undo all the conditioning that we’ve received, to be different to what we are, and sometimes it takes time, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it happens like that and you wake up going I’m out of this game of craziness, I’m just not playing it anymore. I’m not playing it anymore. And that is when you feel free. You just feel free to be who you are and you let others be who they are too.
That’s it for this week. It’s a long video. I could talk for ages about it. I love this topic of acceptance. Go out into the world with the appreciation that you have this beautiful vehicle allowing you to experience the world through your senses just giving you this gorgeous experience of life, and your body allows you to do that. Enjoy it, celebrate it, nourish it, love it.