Learning to love your body – unconditionally.

Learning to love your body – unconditionally. March 30, 2022

What is Unconditional Body Acceptance and why is it so liberating?

Unconditional body acceptance for many people is moving away from a lifetime of social conditioning. It turns its head on the subconscious beliefs we might have held for the entirety of our lives in terms of what ‘good’ bodies ‘should’ look and behave like.

And it feels awesome.

But unconditional body acceptance is not loving your body anyway, despite thinking it’s imperfect. It isn’t setting out to change your body to make it easier for you to love it. It also isn’t allowing it to stay unhealthy (or worse to get unhealthier) in the name of acceptance. And it definitely isn’t forcing it into a shape it doesn’t feel it’s best at to fit a certain ideal. Whether that ideal comes from society or from your own internal beliefs.

You’re probably thinking, well this doesn’t sound very easy then

It isn’t.

But it’s worth the effort.

By unconditionally loving your body you aren’t just changing your belief systems about your own figure, you’re also changing your belief systems about other people’s too.

Think about the messages you’ve been given about bodies throughout your life. How have you internalised these? Consider the way you feel about other people’s bodies especially when they change. What words do you use? “You look great, did you lose weight?” for example sends a message to both your subconscious and your audience that being thinner is looking better.

Our media has worked hard to teach us thinner and younger is the winning formula

When we feel thinner and younger than others that might make us feel good, but in many ways, we’re still setting ourselves up for sadness. We’re only ever going to get older. And often the simple act of ageing mean we’re also going to get at least slightly fatter.

I for one am not prepared to spend the rest of my life slowly thinking I’m worth less and less love and respect with every year. I like to think I’m only halfway through this existence. To consider feeling a tiny bit sadder about the skin I’m in every year sounds like a self-torture I’m not prepared to live through.

And just to illustrate this point, the graphics website I used to create the header photo for this article didn’t have bigger silhouettes

I originally searched for someone doing yoga, but that brought up silhouettes which were even more slender. The default body it seems is a very specific size, unless you do yoga when the expectation is even smaller.

Why, when bodies come in such a range of sizes, do we not see this replicated in stock graphics?

Now, when we’re only just getting back to being in public with other people and much of our contact with others is online, we need to see all body shapes more than ever.

And yet, it has been alleged that social media sites such as Instagram disproportionally removes larger bodies over smaller when it comes to nudity and indecency filters.

No wonder some of us are constantly searching for that magic miracle diet

The one that allows you to lose more than the 1 – 2 lbs a week recommended by the UK NHS but won’t send you into a yo-yo diet mode which means you’ll put it all back on in 2 – 5 years.

Sadly, the way we think about weight loss can be as damaging to our bodies as carrying a little too much fat can be. Sometimes it can be more damaging.

The body likes consistency. Going into any state that your body feels is starvation will encourage it to lay down more fat from the food you eat in future. Humans it seems have adapted well to boom and bust food sources and the more boom or bust your diet (and research is also showing possibly also that of your ancestors) the more energy the body wants to stash ‘just in case’.

What is healthy for your body?

It won’t necessarily be the same as what’s healthy for mine or anyone else’s. There’s no one size fits all magic formula to eating and exercise, and even the blood type diets aren’t always indicative of what you personally need to do to maintain a healthy body.

The calories you see on the back of food packets aren’t necessarily the rate your body will burn them at and (as I think most people are aware now) BMI is not the most useful tool for judging health.

Listen to your body

If you’ve spent many years trying not to listen to it, this won’t be an easy process. Behaviour and belief changes are hard, that’s why many of us either haven’t done it yet or took a long time to do so. The process of unlearning all those behaviours and beliefs might take a little time, but this is your unconditional gift to your body. Acceptance. Unconditionally.

There’s no one way to unconditional body acceptance but it starts with facing yourself and questioning all the things you’ve been taught about what it should look like. It’s about asking what feels good to you and recognising a stable weight is more important than finding a goal weight. It’s about seeing the beauty in yourself and others without creating an internal hierarchy of ‘good’ bodies and ‘bad’ bodies. It’s about no longer talking about your imperfections or seeing yourself as not good enough.

It’s about gifting the best version of yourself to yourself, with no preconceived notions of what that may be.

About Katie Gerrard
Author of "Seidr: The Gate is Open" and "Odin’s Gateways", Katie Gerrard is a witch working as a hypnotherapist, yoga teacher and workshop facilitator. You can read more about the author here.

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