Never Too Much Body Acceptance

When it comes to body acceptance, this is the only balance I’m interested in striking. Photo by Richard Sabel

By far one of the dumbest things I hear is that we have to “strike a balance” between body acceptance and health.  The logic-defying idea here being that if you allow yourself to completely like your body you won’t hate it enough to make healthy choices.   That idea is precisely as ludicrous as it sounds. Of course when people are talking about “health” in this context they actually mean thinness.  So what they are saying is that if you allow yourself to completely like your body, you won’t hate it enough to try dieting again and again when, like almost everyone, you fail repeatedly at long term weight loss. Or perhaps they think that in the multi-dimensionalityof health self-hatred is a positive force.  In this as in so many other things I think that scales are a bad idea.This “strike a balance” idea is just diet industry manipulation for profit – it’s a way to give lip service to the myriad health professionals and experts who assert that positive body image is crucial to making decisions about our health from a good mental state, while allowing them to keep insisting that we need to buy their product so that we can change our bodies enough that we stop hating them.   This idea then gets repeated by people who either didn’t think it through or who actually believe that the key to health is juuuust enough self-hate.

I have consciously opted out of this system.  I do not think that hating myself does any good at all – and trust me when I tell you that I gave it the old college try. Hating myself never inspired me to take care of my body and never led to a single positive outcome.  In fact, I got so caught up in hating my body for how it looked that I forgot to have even a second’s appreciation for what it does and that was no way for me to live.  Like everyone’s experience mine is just for me – it can’t be extrapolated to anybody else so I’m neither trying to tell you what to do or trying to tell you that your experience will be the same as mine. I’m just trying to give an option.

Right now your body is probably breathing and blinking and beating your heart and a million other things without you even asking because your body is just cool like that. And as a way of saying thank you for that you can say “Screw striking a balance” and fully appreciate the body you have now – total, 100% body acceptance.  Not because your body is “perfect” (as if there is such a thing) but because it’s your body, the only one you have.  You can choose your own health priorities and your own path to get there and you can do it all while loving  your body.  Health is never fully within our contorl and no amount of healthy habits guarantee health for anyone of any size, but for me everything in my life is better when I work from a platform of loving and appreciating my body.  My body does millions of things for me everyday and it deserves nothing less than my love, respect, and full throated support and anything less than that is out of balance.

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I do size acceptance activism full time.  A lot what I do, like answering over 5,000 e-mails from readers each month, giving talks to groups who can’t afford to pay, and running projects like the Georgia Billboard Campaign etc. is unpaid, so I created a membership program so that people who read the blog and feel they get value out of it and/or want to  support the work I do can become members for ten bucks a month  To make that even cooler, I’ve now added a component called “DancesWithFat Deals” which are special deals to my members from size positive merchants. Once you are a member I send out an e-mail once a month with the various deals and how to redeem them – your contact info always stays completely private.

So if you find value in my work, want to support it, and you can afford it, I would ask that you consider becoming a member or supporting my work with a  one-time contribution.

The regular e-mail blog subscription (available at the top right hand side of this page) is always completely free. If you’re curious or uncomfortable about any of this, you might want to check out this post.  Thanks for reading! ~Ragen

Published in: on September 27, 2012 at 9:21 am  Comments (12)  

12 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. You are wise beyond your years. Keep up the good work.

  2. Gods forbid we should like our bodies – think of all of the industries that are supported by self-hate!

    • i wish there was a “like” button for your insight – pleaase post this comment on fb!

  3. The concept of “hating yourself healthy” blows my mind yet I’ve been trying to do it for years, continuously falling deeper into anorexia. Although I have a long way to go I am slowly learning that we don’t take care of something we hate, therefore I’m trying to re-learn how to take care of myself and a lot of the work has been around learning to love myself. (Right now just not hate myself so much) Thanks a lot for your blog, you really are an inspiration to me and many others.

    • Best of luck in your journey, Daniella! We’re all rooting for you.

    • Hi Daniiella,

      I’m so sorry that you are having to go through this. You are not alone, so many of us have gone through this. Keep pushing forward and please let me know if there is anything that I can do to help. ~Ragen

      ________________________________

  4. There really is no balance to strike in this situation. After all, the ‘balance’ we’re being asked to strike is a matter of somehow loving your body enough to make it disappear, loving yourself enough to spend every cent you have to change yourself into something you aren’t, loving yourself enough to fear any tiny deviation that might make you a specific individual.

    Saying out loud that you don’t choose to diet is considered heresy. Saying out loud that you love your body precisely as it happens to be in this moment is a shocking and horrifying admission.

    Yeah, and when I was hitting my teens I remember hearing a lot of otherwise intelligent and genuinely nice people talking about how they supported equal rights for gay and lesbian people… as long as they just didn’t make a big deal out of their sexuality by walking hand in hand, kissing their partners in situations where it would be considered perfectly appropriate for a hetero couple to do so, or mention the fact that they’re gay. I thought it was stupid then and I think it’s toxic now.

    Yeah, we’re allowed to be who we are, so long as we don’t rock any boats by really BEING who we are.

    That’s no way to live a life.

    Screw their idea of ‘balance.’ I’m too busy living to worry about it.

    • You make a great observation about a message I keep hearing to ‘love yourself enough to spend every cent you have’ to make yourself thin. I have heard that reason spouted by countless diet products. Yes, they claim, this product is expensive. But don’t you love yourself enough to buy it? This is all about you, right? Actually it’s about selling a pill or some prepackaged food or a book or a juicing machine or…whatever.

      I think the ‘loving yourself’ message is insidious because it seems to be about loving yourself right now, but it’s really not. The subtext of the message is: “Don’t you want to love yourself? You will love yourself when you are thin. Take a step toward becoming someone you can love.”

      It’s creepy and wrong.

  5. Best blog in helping me see to that I can love my body and will love my body. Dittos to all the above. Thank you Ragen.

  6. I’m somehow reminded of an experience I had a while back, driving in my car. I was listening to the radio, and some ads came on, something like this: shampoo to make your hair luxurious, eyelash extensions, then for laser hair removal. One after the other, just like that. And I busted out laughing- usually it’s more subtle than that, but somehow, it was like I heard the subtext: no matter what kind of hair you have, or where it is, it’s wrong – you need to pay us money to change it for you. It just struck me.

  7. “Hating myself never inspired me to take care of my body and never led to a single positive outcome.”

    This comment really spoke to me. We are taught that our body is like some naughty child that must be disciplined and can’t be trusted. It’s so sad we learn to not trust and appreciate our own selves.

  8. I was told when I was younger that being fat meant I had no self-respect. I worked out, eventually, that that really meant ‘I don’t respect anyone your size, so why the hell should you?’ As for respect, so for love – two slightly different words for the same thing, really, and both things that nobody ever benefited from not giving themselves – the notion that we shouldn’t be ‘allowed’ to love ourselves is the projection of people who, for their own reasons, don’t love us. We don’t have to share their opinion.


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