I really hope you are as horrified by this as I am.
“Earn Your Body” is a nice mantra—it’s short so we can silently repeat it as we suffer through Spin class, and it capitalizes on our sense of inferiority. As a result, it holds dangerous implications. “Earn Your Body” suggests we have no power over our own bodies, that our place in our bodies is the result of some random, not always kind, accident.
Your body has to be earned by others, yes– friends, lovers, etc. They have to earn your body, but you, you cannot earn something you already rightfully own. The minute we start casting body ownership as something outside ourselves we treat it as something that can be misused, objectified, and discarded. By having to earn our bodies, we are encouraging separation between it and ourselves. It exists as an “other.” This “othering” has been going on for centuries. Slavery, for instances, rests on the ideology that bodies can be owned by those who do not exist within it.
The slave’s body beseeches domination. Doesn’t “Earn Your Body” demand similar regulation?
To discard this belief in “earning your body,” we have to shift our thoughts to “owning your body.” Here are three simple suggestions I have for reclaiming ownership of our bodies:
1. Do things that feel good. This seems like a “duh” statement, but I know I struggle with this. Eat foods that energize you, exercise in ways that feel right for your body, and engage in a daily routine that grounds you. I ate low-fat for years because I was led to believe it was the best thing for my body. It was only after listening to my needs and not what the world thought, that I realized eating this way was severely harming me. Once I noticed positive changes in my body, I paid more attention to other beliefs I was buying into. For instance, I limited my running and picked up weightlifting even though I was told it would make my body “bulky.” It actually made me stronger and much more capable of handling the daily barrage of harming mantras.
2. Tune into your breath. Your breath is the most powerful force of energy in your body. Not only does it allow you to be more aware of your body’s needs, it also is something that is truly and fully yours. I begin each morning with pranayama and sun salutations. The breath allows us to gently reach those inner places we are afraid to touch. Through it, we can explore our full potential as souls, not just as bodies. A pranayama practice can begin with the next breath and is the simplest, but most effective way of maintaining ownership of our body.
3. Become aware of what feeds negative beliefs. Control your body is this mantra’s explicit warning. It’s a tempting ideology to buy into. We are constantly inundated with images, beliefs, and ideologies that tell us our “self” is not enough. What are you engaging in that feeds these beliefs? Perhaps it is a relationship built on physicality only. Maybe you surround yourself with people who are obsessed with changing their outer bodies. Do you constantly beat yourself up for not looking a certain way? How do you spend your time on social media? Is your Instagram feed full of shredded abs and “yoga butts”? Is your Twitter a source of motivation to be the best version of yourself or does it bring you down? Having an awareness of these negative energies is the first step in eliminating them from your life.
Your body, dear Dumplings, is the only space in this crazy world that is fully yours. And, contrary to what some may want you to believe, it is a beautiful thing.
More in self-love: Ballet Warped My Body Image: How I Got Healthy
Photo: http://indulgy.com/post/yvEPtcGqM1/you-earn-your-body-inspiration; Sodanie Chea via Flickr