I spent most of the month posting about body and sex positivity and I figured I would wrap it up with a reality check. The body positive movement is a good thing, for some people. Just like life, it isn’t a blanket statement. No one can ever tell you to love who you are for these “x” reasons. Each of us has things we don’t like about ourselves at any given time and they change almost as often as the weather. So you may be wondering why I would post those same kinds of messages if I’m now saying that it isn’t for everyone. And that is more of what this will be about.
We spend our entire lives in the body we are born with. We watch it grow and change every year. We know the flaws, that is a given. Hell, why wouldn’t we when all the places and media outlets we touch on a given day point them out to us? We know the days when our hair is on fleek and we are rocking the cutest outfit ever. Our emotions run from the darkest depths to the brightest of rainbow-clad skies. All because of the skin we live in. How we feel about ourselves in relation to what we perceive on a daily basis consumes a major amount of our time. What do we get out of all this focus? Heartache and stress are usually our sparkly prizes.
I could give you the Cosmopolitan Top 10 list of what you can do to have a better body positive mindset. I could show you ways to reimagine how you look at yourself in the mirror and words to say to help shape how you feel. You can surround yourself by people who constantly tell you how beautiful you are and how much you are loved. But all it will take is one bad day to shake that to the very core of your foundation. It won’t work for you every time or at all. Guess what, it’s okay that it doesn’t. In fact, forcing those mindsets can be just as damaging as the negative ones. They create different kinds of stress and worries to become obsessed with. Working on accepting what we are should be a better focus.
Self-acceptance isn’t about body positivity, it’s simply actualizing that we are who we are. We are both good and bad it doesn’t lower our self worth. Instead of comparing we should realize similarities and what we offer. Not focusing on trying to be some unattainable ideal dictated by a society that changes fades every clothing season. It’s about allowing ourselves the room to be who we are, unconditionally, without more labels than necessary. THAT, my friends is just as hard to do and cannot be done overnight it’s a day-by-day struggle of picking yourself up and moving on. If someone insults us it hurts, we accept that it hurts and know that it will not destroy us. Just like we must keep our head when we get that elusive compliment and know that it will not change the world after the endorphins have left our systems.
Wanting to change our bodies should be done for the right reasons and correctly. I’m not going to speak on medical reasons for change, those are personal and should be taken up with health care professionals and not some online personality or article. Hell, you can take any of what I am saying with a grain of salt; all I have to draw from is my experience. Being a gay male is just as hard as being a woman or a person of color, in certain respects. I have lived with the ideals that the greater gay community at large has of what is desirable and I have done and do things that can be extreme to try and fit into those parameters. All for the reason of trying to attract what I consider an ideal mate. My own perceptions colored by the very ideals that have shaped my obsession to change.
Having been single for the better part of 15 years has left me in me in a place of trying to figure out how to get back into the dating scene. At 45, my body doesn’t have the bounce back for all of the things that many of us do to ourselves to be more attractive. I have shuttered myself away from the gay community because I know I’m not young, thin, and beautiful. Two and a half years ago I made a change in my life financially and mentally to leave what I knew to do something different. I am a work in progress and still trying to get back to socializing. And I still don’t accept my body completely, I know at times I can be attractive and it takes a bit of work. Mostly I try to be forgiving of myself and know that it is ok that I feel how I feel.
This all means that we must not take ourselves too seriously. There is plenty of bad shit in the world, more than enough to go around. We have to get out of our heads and see there are other things that do need attention. Our lives may, in fact, have real things that need a more clear-headed approach. For me, one of those would be socializing. Getting out there so I can at least be seen. Hiding myself away is a crutch to justify not having to deal with being judged. Instead I should be accepting that I will be judged no matter where I am or what I do. Life is too short to shutter ourselves away and not enjoy it, regardless of opinions.
There is no cure-all for changing how you feel about your body. There is no red pill or blue pill, its a daily constant effort and as much as you feel like giving. The road does, however, start with acceptance. Acceptance that you are still a good person no matter how your body looks or others opinions of how you should look. Don’t be the child stuck in the well. Make your voice be heard regardless of who tells you differently. It is your life and you should enjoy it on your own terms.
Let’s all be a little easier on ourselves!