The ideas spread by the body positivity movement can be extremely helpful for many people, especially those struggling to love their body and view their body as beautiful. However, for those with a chronic illness, we’re often left out by the phrases we come across in the body positivity movement.
The body positivity movement often says to love our bodies because we’re healthy, but when did good health become a requirement for self-love? Good health isn’t attainable for all of us. That already complicates our lives in regards to basics such as what we can eat and how we function on a daily basis. It can take so much grief and patience to try to accept our bodies. It takes even more effort to try to love our bodies. For many of us, our bodies are a source of stress and pain on a daily basis. How can we love something that causes us so much pain, especially when the message being spread is that healthy bodies are the ones who deserve love? Don’t our bodies deserve love too?
Recently, I’ve realized that the way I practice body positivity is actually something a little different called body neutrality. In body neutrality we focus on the way in which we exist in our bodies instead of focusing on our appearance. We’re grateful for our bodies for being a vessel in which we exist, but it’s also totally valid to be frustrated with the difficulties that our bodies cause us to experience. We accept ourselves as we exist, even with all of our flaws. In some way, we make peace with our body. We’re grateful for whatever our body can do for us. That means something different to every single individual. It may even differ what that means for you on a daily basis, especially if you’re dynamically disabled.
You’re so much more than just your body. Your body is simply a vessel of all of the amazing things that you can be. You’re the total of all of your wonderful traits, such as your compassion, kindness, patience, and everything else that’s great about you! You can choose to either love your body or feel neutral about it. It can even shift back and forth at times. However you think about it, it’s valid. Please just remember to be kind to yourself and your body in the way that works best for you. No matter how your body looks or what your body can do, you’re worthy of love and respect.