Love it or hate it, Elan Morgan ponders self-acceptance, our bodies, and why there isn’t really an answer.
I think about beauty and self-acceptance and love, and I think about how our culture, in an effort to beat back the ocean of self-loathing that women have been drowning in for so long, offers up this idea of loving our bodies, and this idea doesn’t sit well with me. It seems just as dissociative as hating our bodies.
My body is not an object to be appraised by me like I would a beautiful vase or an animal separate from me. It is not here for me to hate or love or have a relationship with as I would something outside myself. It is here to carry me through my days on this earth. It is here as a vehicle that feels separate from my consciousness, but is inseparable from my experience of the world. It is not a costume I have put on in the same way that I put on clothing I like or dislike.
To hate or to love my body seems to put me outside of it. It divorces me from it, in a way. Whether it is love or hate I feel, it puts my body in the position of a thing that I appraise for worth of some kind, good or bad.
I love me. I love what I can do. I love how I am of help to others. I love the amount of love I have. My body, though brilliant vehicle as it is? I refuse to appraise it right now. I refuse to look at it in pieces and tell you why I love one part or don’t love another part or how I have come to love curves or flatness or dimples or difference. It’s all difference, every last part. My butt, my arms, my knees, my belly, my waistline, the texture of my skin: all of these are like fingerprints, grown only here and nowhere else.
My body is not a vase. My body is not livestock. It is a brilliant vehicle that moves me through time and allows me to express and love and initiate and move and relate. I love what it does. I love what it is capable of. I love its abilities, but I will not check it for suppleness or measure it for size or weight, love or hate, at least not right now while I try to figure out how to stop being an object to myself, a thing to be measured against a scale of any kind for worth.
My thoughts about being human and being female and being a second-class citizen whose body is owned by the state and granted limited privileges are always changing and evolving. So maybe I will one day embrace this idea that we can love our bodies without divorcing ourselves from them artificially as objects, but this is where I stand right now, and it seems doubtful.
I worry, though, about where this thinking leaves me. I worry that, by rejecting the idea of having a relationship with my body, I am just landing right back at dissociation. The only model I have for viewing myself is body as object, so I don’t even know if this is a concept that can be undone or if it is an intrinsic part of the human condition. I worry that this idea puts me in a position where I will become the only one exempt as I look at others’ bodies and reflexively assess them for signs of worth.
I think what I really want in all of this philosophical meandering is to be set free the social trappings of femininity, masculinity and beauty. I’ve grown tired of it, and I am looking for a soft place to fall.