Saying ‘I love my body’ is neither passive nor vain


Kernel Opinion SIG

I love my body.

It’s taken me a long time to say that. Even longer to mean it.

Now that you’ve read that comment, you probably think one of two things about me: I’m either passive, meaning I’ve hidden behind body positivity as a way to resignedly ignore my body’s health needs, or I’m vain, meaning I’m obsessed with how I look.

Neither could be further from the truth. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m always trying a new physical activity to challenge myself. I’ve completed several rounds of both Hip Hop Abs and Insanity, both workout programs from Shaun T’s Beachbody. I ran cross country. I’m a pretty active person and certainly not apathetic about my appearance. I’ve also never been a very confident person.

There’s this stereotype about people who work out. This idea that we’re all completely happy and energetic because we find time for the gym. This idea that we’re vain.

There’s also a stereotype about people who say, “I love my body.” There’s this idea that body confidence equates body satisfaction. That you can’t love something if you’re not done working on it.

I think most people, especially the ones who will not admit it, have struggled with body positivity at some point in their lives. Even people who have a six pack and massive quads go home and look at some image of what they want to look like and suffer internally for what they see as a failure.

My biggest breakthrough came this summer, when I took time and focus away from working out and focused on my mind. I had done Insanity and other challenging workouts. I had heard Shaun T talk about mental health. But I was too focused on the cardio to listen to what he was trying to say during the workout: that body goals can never be reached if you don’t train yourself to be happy in the moment, no matter what you look like.

He was trying to say that it’s about a fitness journey, not a specific goal. That you have to find a workout you enjoy in order to get results. That you can’t just pick the hardest thing and work yourself to death and expect results. That our bodies listen to our mind and not to our sweat.

That was a hard lesson to learn and it’s been harder to implement. I’ve skipped workouts. I’ve eaten things I enjoy. Something broke for me this summer, and that’s why I am writing this. I hope it can break for you too.

I hope you can see that happiness with your body is never something you’re going to find in a mirror. It’s always, every time, going to happen in your mind first. You have to, and you get to, decide when you love your body. That, my friends, is neither passive nor vain. It’s healthy.