Love of Our Bodies

Love of Our Bodies

By Eve Chalom

  Eve Chalom is a two time world competitor in ice dancing. She is currently a dance/movement therapist, a performer in both ice skating and modern dance, a yogi, and a figure skating coach. She is continually exploring the connections between dance/movement therapy, figure skating, and life in general.

   There is no ideal body type. I was taught by my culture, my sport, and the people around me to hate mine. And I am actually kind of slender, with some of the curves in the “right” places, and a fair number of girl friends are envious of my figure. And with my body being not so far off from what people consider to be an “ideal” body type, even I have a next to impossible time finding pants that fit. The sizes keep going up and I haven’t gained any weight. And there are some stores where I can’t fit into the clothes at all. How is this possible?

Others know this, but it is a message that bears repeating as often as possible. We live within a system in the world where there is the message that there is one “ideal” body type. What this ideal body type might look like differs depending on where in the world you are. But, nevertheless, most women are not that body type. So where does that leave us? In an attempt to conform to society’s ideals, women come to the conclusion that if they are not that ideal body type, their particular body must somehow be wrong. And then they try to fix it. This leads to many different strategies, such as dieting and plastic surgery to name a few. Very rarely are women taught to just be themselves with their bodies, and that they don’t have to try to fit into a preconceived shape or idea of what they are supposed to look like.

This is not even necessarily a thin to heavy thing. My grandmother was a young woman in the days after World War II and she was always naturally on the thin side. Because people were coming to the United States as survivors from the concentration camps, being thin was not in. So the trend shifted towards curvaceous with some meat on your bones. My grandmother was out of luck and grew to hate her unpopular body. I found that it is a simple step to take to go from hating your body to hating yourself for having the body you do. At least that’s how it was for me. Self-hate became a huge driving force in determining how I functioned on a daily basis.

Love can be a driving force for change instead of hate. It may take a little longer, but the effects are much longer lasting and the ramifications and ripple effects are hugely different as to how the world around is impacted. A student asked me what the difference was between losing five pounds quickly by starving herself for a week, or losing five pounds by doing more work to totally revamp the way she thinks about food and how she feeds herself. Why should she bother to do more work? I told her that the first way is more efficient, more direct, and it accomplishes the goal but not much else is helped in the process. The second way takes a little longer and is more work, but she has the ability to grow much more as a person the second way, and it has the potential to positively affect the rest of her life and her perspectives on other things as well. It will also more positively affect the people around her because they will become more interested in their unconscious attitudes towards food, or maybe they will see her differently because she is interested in being open to change. The impact will be larger and more widespread with the second route. There is an expression “to kill two birds with one stone.” To be effective human beings who have a positive effect on our world around us, working on any issue or learning any new behavior should be done in as holistic or “whole-istic” way as possible. This will ensure that as many people as positive benefit from your personal work and that the ramifications are more wide-spread. To do something in a “whole-istic” way takes more time, but it is healthier, not just for one person, but for our society. When you take a shortcut that boils down to the “what” without caring about the “how,” (why does it matter how I reach my goal as long as I reach it?) we lose sight of the bigger picture. We are all connected and every action we take impacts ourselves and each other. When one person is hurt, we are hurt too, even if most of us may not feel it consciously. When we sacrifice part of ourselves to accomplish something, that has an impact on our future happiness as well as everyone’s freedom to fully be themselves.

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