Step 3: Bodies as Instruments, Not As Objects

Today's post is about Step 3 of my series on how to bounce back from negative body triggers: thinking about your body as an instrument, not as an object.

Beauty Refined points out:

When women learn to value their bodies for what they can do rather than what they look like, they improve their body image and gain a more powerful sense of control. Ideas of “feminist embodiment” that have been pinpointed in research include using our bodies to dance, play, move, and be outside the confines of being looked at. As early as grade school, research shows that girls’ activities and thoughts are more frequently disrupted than boys, and those interruptions are often related to weight and appearance. Experts suggest we can resist self-objectification by participating in non-aesthetically-focused sports (like competitive team sports) and other kinds of physical activity. Finally, STEP AWAY FROM THE MIRRORS while exercising. Research shows people who work out in front of mirrors can’t perform as well because they are consciously and subconsciously wrapped up in how they look instead of what they can do.

There's always been an element of look-ism in female sports.  When I played varsity tennis, I was often pretty concerned about looking cute in the outfit, at least until the first serve.  Nowadays, I don't think about it as much - well, until I go to do a handstand and have to remember to tuck my shirt in, lest anyone see my ghost-pale stomach, but even so, I don't spend much time looking in the mirror at the gym, because that's not what I'm there to do.  I'm there to get a good workout, sweat, get red in the face, and get strong.

Love me some kettlebells!

Love me some kettlebells!

It is so, so important to find exercise you like.  Hear me babes, it is VITAL.  Exercise should not be punishment.  You don't have to do it to earn anything.  You don't have to do it "or else".  You don't have to follow anyone else's rules.  Move your body because it delights you to do so.  That is the only way to make it sustainable.  The only way.

Pick something you love.  For me, that was roller derby, then CrossFit, and yoga.  I delight in all of those things.  I want to make out with rollerskating, I get a thrill at learning my body's capabilities at the box, and I love the presence and bodily awareness yoga brings.

I used to do shit I hated.  I do not like long-distance running.  Look at me, up above.  I have the body of a sprinter.  I am not cut out for marathons.  Long-distance running is not for me.  I hate long runs with ever fiber of my being and I want to punch the ground I have to cover in the face.  And yet for years I ran because I felt like I "had" to.  Bullshit.  I'm a grown-ass lady.  I do what I want.

Like hanging:

Like a damn monkey. 

Like a damn monkey. 

If I look happy here, it's because I am.  I finished the WOD, perfected my power snatch, and had a generally bang-up time!  Now, it's not always like that -- some WODs (Workout of the Day) are an effing SLOG, and I fight for every rep.  But you gotta love the general trend of what you do.  It has to be workable.  You have to look forward to it sometimes.  Even in my darkest, most drama-ridden moments of derby, the moments by myself spinning around the track felt like home.

And plus, when you are busy doing something you truly love, you don't give two shits about how you look doing it.  You are in the zone, in flow, and I strongly believe that everyone in that space is totally, undeniably gorgeous.  True love is absolutely beautiful, and contagious.  Watching someone do what they love makes you fall in love with them a little too, otherwise, how do we explain celebrity crushes?

So find that thing you love.  Find something you're good at.  Praise your bod for all the rad things it can DO.  Focus on that, not what it looks like, at least for awhile.  When you feel down about your body, remind yourself of how it supports you, carries you, lifts stuff for you.  Look at your latest personal record, or even praise yourself for getting up and doing the daily grind for one more day.  Because that's a day you didn't let those stupid negative unproductive jerkface internal voices get you down.  That's a day you said, "No thanks, I'm too busy rockin' it over here to care one fig about what you say, jerks.  Now STFU, while I kill this workout."


Treatment Plan for Negative Body Triggers
Step 1: Compassion
Step 2: Feminist Beliefs