Have you ever wished you had another body?
So, I've often wondered what it would be like to live in someone else's body. I'm curious. How does it feel to be a baby learning to control that huge head? Or to be a teenage boy - what does one do with all those knees and elbows and feet and hormones?
I am quite a slim person, and I sometimes wonder what it must be like to have a large bust - to have to 'lift and wash' so to speak. Alternatively, what would it be like to have to shave my face every day? What does sexual intimacy feel like for someone else?
|Tea must be made with boiling water!|
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Take a moment and acknowledge each of your sensations. Sight, sound, smell, taste and sensation. Consider them each in turn and thank your body for telling you what is happening around you!
So often we see our bodies as merely vehicles interact with this physical world - just this thing that we use to get around. We speak of them disparagingly, we feed them carelessly and we push them relentlessly.
|Look after it! It's the only body you have!|
Source: Wikimedia Commons
On the other hand, some of us identify too strongly with our physical appearance. If looking good means you feel good (How many times have you heard that before?) then looking bad means you feel bad. I'm not sure I want my feeling good to depend on something that fickle. And by whose standard would I determine if I look 'good' anyway? When women define their value by how closely they resemble a warped and culturally specific ideal, they will always experience some sense of failure.
So women tend to judge their physical bodies by comparison and in doing so, view their bodies as less attractive than they are, and hence treat them in less than healthy ways either to gain attractiveness or neglect them as unattractive bodies are not seen as worth looking after. On the other hand, many people, generally men, see their bodies as more attractive or healthier than they really are, and tend to neglect them in other ways.
So where am I going with this?
Women's bodies are valued as ornaments. Men's bodies as valued as instruments.
- Gloria Steinem
|Your Body is a Battleground - Barbara Kruger|
You've probably guessed from that second question that I've chosen to see my body as an instrument rather than an ornament.
This distinction became much clearer to me one day when I was exercising. I have/had really skinny upper arms that make my elbows look huge. I was always self conscious about them as a kid. But, one day when I was working out my arms, I realized that I was doing it because it felt good - the thought of bulking up hadn't actually crossed my mind. I came to a point where I the thought of being able to lift my own body weight with my arms just *felt* good. And guess what, my arms did get a bit bulkier.
Even for men, what's the point of bulking up for the sake of looking big or defined or whatever, if you actually aren't much stronger or more capable than you were before? Why pump iron when you can build houses? If the aim is to build muscle, I'd rather do something useful with all that energy.
So that got me wondering how things would change if we started making decisions based on how something feels rather than how it looks. For example - if your thighs are chafing and that is uncomfortable for you, do what you can to make the change FOR YOU. Don't do it because a small section of society has determined that your value is defined by your thigh gap.
If you're going to make changes, make them from a place of love rather than loathing, from acceptance rather than tolerance. If you don't love your body because it's yours, can any amount of dieting or surgery or make up change that? I don't know.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
I will not be complicit in supplying my own prison!
And high heels - they slow me down and I've discovered they can actually be detrimental to my health. So I just stopped wearing them and found alternatives. If the main reason to wear high heels is because they make your calves look good, count me out. My body is an instrument, not an ornament.
When a woman sees herself as an ornament, she is continually viewing herself through someone else's eyes - she is objectifying herself. She is, in a sense, out of her body. This affects a number of things. Women who self-objectify often engage in continual body monitoring - Cross your legs so you don't have thigh-spread, hunch your shoulders so you don't appear so tall, suck in that tummy, stick out those boobs, check hair, check lipstick, is this a good angle?
According to work by Dr Caroline Heldman, among others, this practise can decrease a woman's cognitive function in that there just isn't enough brain space to monitor how you look and do the task in front of you, and, among other things, it decreases one's enjoyment of sexual intimacy.
A woman who self-objectifies tends to view herself having sex as if through someone else's eyes, or through the lens of a camera, monitoring her wobbly thighs and undignified noises from outside rather than being present in her body and enjoying the actual sensation and intimacy of intercourse.
So contrary to the popular idiom, looking good stops me from feeling good. To me, that's just not worth it!
A quote from one of my favourite spoken word pieces - Pretty by Katy Makkai:
...but this is not about me. This is about the self-mutilating circus we have painted ourselves clowns in. About women who will prowl 30 stores in 6 malls to find the right cocktail dress, but haven't a clue where to find fulfillment or how wear joy, wandering through life shackled to a shopping bag, beneath those 2 pretty syllables.
So, rather than wondering what it would be like to live in another body, I choose to rather be present in my skin, to love my body for what it can do, rather than for how it appears. I choose to be here, really here, in my skin.