kaberett: A drawing of a black woman holding her right hand, minus a ring finger, in front of her face. "Oh, that. I cut it  off." (molly - cut it off)
[personal profile] kaberett
There is a tendency, in some of the circles I move in, to react strongly and negatively to exhortations to "love your body". Says Hel, inadvertently prompting me to finally get around to writing about this:
I think there is often an impetus to turn "it sucks that people are conditioned to feel negatively about their bodies and we should resist that conditioning" into "everyone has to feel positive about their bodies all the time".

Which is a very helpful translation for me to see, because I find it Really Rather Difficult to be around the Very Definite "it is absolutely okay for me to hate my body, it's preposterous to suggest that I wouldn't hate my body, it doesn't do me any good at all in any way ever" line of discussion. (Because of empathising with distress; because of wanting to Explain why this is an Incorrect Approach, and being well aware that's inappropriate and unhelpful; because. Because because because.)

But: oh. It's yet another mistranslation, yet another skewing (as of gratitude exercises to snide and condescending "count your blessings"), I think? When I talk about loving my body, I don't mean the superficial "I have to feel positive about my body all the time": that's not what love is. I mean it as compassion and kindness and working-in-good-faith, as recognition that my body is doing the best it can.

You do not have to walk on your knees/for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting./You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves: Wild Geese, Mary Oliver. ... your body, your most personal of assistants,/in its own awkwardly earnest way/really wants to make sure
you get all your messages
: Sensuum, [personal profile] jjhunter. There is a kind of love called maintenance: Atlas, U.A. Fanthorpe.

It doesn't mean rotten, as my maternal line says, in exasperated understanding. It's doing its best. And being kind to it doing its best turns out to be pretty good practice for being kind to me doing my best, and working out what that might look like on any different way. Love not as a variable state, but a process (The Indelicates); love as a verb, not a noun; love as work. It is cruel to tell someone that you love them, if what you mean is that you're enamoured of the idea of a static and unchanging snapshot of them, filtered through your own perceptions; love should, surely, embrace messiness and uncertainty and wobbles and mistakes, should think I don't yet know how but I trust we can sort this out.

And so: I love my body.
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