Episode 4: You Do Not Have To Like Your Body
What happens when our bodies are not how we want them to be? Is it ok to want to change them? In this episode, I share some thoughts on not liking your body and I give some encouragement that might surprise you.
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You’re listening to the Ekstasy Vine Podcast, Episode 4.
Hello and welcome - my name is Ekstasy and this is where we explore the sensual landscapes of nature and the body.
And as I mentioned at the end of last week’s episode, I think that returning to our wildness is essentially a process of experiencing our life and experiencing ourselves — this body that we are — much more deeply. The problem, though, is that sometimes our life is really heavy with pain and with suffering. And it can make it really difficult for us to actually want to experience our body.
So each of us came into this world with a particular organism — this body — and it functions in a particular way and sometimes that way has chronic illness, or injury, or really deep emotional trauma.
Or sometimes our body is actually the reason why other people hate us. Maybe they actually want to hurt us or imprison us or even kill us. And how are you supposed to love your body or to want to experience your body when it’s actually the source of so much suffering or hatred or pain?
And so I’m really interested in this conflict that happens between trying to accept our bodies and love ourselves, our body as a whole organism, on one side of the equation — and then on the other side the desire to change our body or to change the experience, maybe change the way that it looks or feels. I’m really fascinated by that conflict.
How do we feel balance between acceptance and change?
And what I’m starting to realize is that there isn’t one answer for everybody. And even for ourselves there are going to be different answers for each of the different parts of ourselves.
I think especially in earth-centered or even body positive movements there’s a pressure to just accept your body and to love it — you’ve got to love it exactly how it is, how nature made you, or how god made you, and just love it exactly how it is.
And I don’t really think that that’s fair. I think that it basically erases our experience in our body, of our body. Feeling an extra level of shame or guilt that I can’t love my body or my depression or my digestive disorder, it creates a lot of shame and guilt and I just don’t see how that’s helpful to actually finding a new way of relating with my body.
So when it comes to aesthetics or the way you present, adorn, or alter your body, you don’t need my permission to do whatever you want with yourself.
But maybe you do need to hear somebody say that it’s OK to have plastic surgery or to have laser hair removal or to change really fundamental things about your body. I think that it’s up to each of us individually to make those decisions.
And one of the things that bothers me about the body positive movement and about earth-centered or new age movements is this idea that we’re not allowed to change our bodies. We’re not allowed to change the way that they look because that somehow means that we’re unnatural.
Again, this whole idea of what is natural and what’s unnatural (see episode 3). I just want to remind you that humans have been altering and changing their bodies for centuries and what is defined as natural or unnatural has changed over time.
The essential thing is that you need to feel comfortable in this world and in this society and whatever it takes for you to feel that way is totally OK.
And at the same time I also think that there are certain things about ourselves that if we lived in a different kind of society and in cultures that were accepting of diversity and really open to all different kinds of expression and embodiments of a human being, I don’t think a lot of us would feel pressure to change ourselves or to alter things about ourselves because there would be a space, a place, we would see ourselves represented in the media and society, and there wouldn’t be this discord or conflict inside of us.
But maybe not? Maybe it is just about aesthetics and what you like. These things are really complicated — there isn’t one answer for everybody. There isn’t just one way of being a body, there isn’t just one way of making peace with different aspects of ourselves. And depending on the thing we’re struggling with, one way to approach it would be to change it — to do something about it and physically or actively change the way that our body looks or behaves.
So speaking from personal experience about changing something about your body: I grew up with a lot of extra body hair and I just didn’t like it. I felt a lot of shame about it. It was also very painful trying to remove my body hair. I would wax or shave and within an hour or two it would start growing back again. I went through a phase when I was in college where I didn’t shave or wax or do anything with my body hair. And you know, being Mediterranean, it’s just biologically what my body was doing. It was being really extra hairy.
But I would get stared at, pointed at, laughed at. I would have children at the beach literally walk up to me and stare and point and laugh and then run away. It was really traumatizing as I was growing up experiencing those things and experiencing my body hair in that way and it got to a point about 4 or 5 years ago that I decided to get laser hair removal on virtually my whole body. And it changed my life overnight.
I immediately started feeling more confident and more sexy and really great about my body. I started wearing clothes that I never really had felt comfortable wearing before. And I think a lot of people would maybe argue that I did something unnatural or I should have been able to just accept my body how it was.
And maybe they’re right. Or maybe they’re not. And it really doesn’t matter because there has been this shift in the way that I feel about my body hair and about my body in general.
So I think when it comes to things about our bodies and changing them and making decisions about how we want to present ourselves to the world, ultimately it’s up to each of us individually. I don’t think anybody has the right to tell us or to keep us from doing or changing things about ourselves that we want to.
So then on the other side of that though are some issues — maybe some health conditions, or some disabilities — that you just can’t change. You just can’t. And how do you make peace with those things?
Or maybe it’s not even a health issue. Maybe it’s just something aesthetically about yourself that you can’t afford to change. Or you don’t have access to the resources to make that change possible. And how do you make peace with those things?
I don’t have all the answers for that. I struggle with that myself. I have some chronic health problems that really make my everyday life very difficult. I have this congenital disorder — a digestive congenital disorder called achalasia — and it makes something really basic — which is eating — actually really painful and loaded with all of these medical and emotional issues.
So next week I want to look a little bit at health and healing and how that relates to our relationship with being a body. And if we accept that maybe there are things we don’t like about ourselves is there a way to heal that? Is there a way to repair or change our relationship with those things that we don’t like?
So in the meantime if you’d like to head over to EkstasyVine.com you can sign up for the monthly newsletter. I send that out on every new moon. Also leave me any comments or questions that have come up from this episode or any of the other episodes. Or if you want to just share a story with me, I’d absolutely love to hear from you.
Until next week, I hope you have a wonderful week. And let’s meet again next time.