Okay, so “un-hate” isn’t technically a word. But for the purposes of this post, “un-hate” will have to do because “love” is a little bit too strong of a word for people like us who have been taught for years that our bodies are not perfect as they are.
The problem with sentiments like “be your own kind of beautiful” and “love your body” is that they trivialize the issue of body-image. They’re too simple, they don’t acknowledge how consequential social media and society as a whole has been on how people view themselves. We’re told that our bodies are beautiful while we are force-fed diet plans and ab workouts, swim suit models and breast implants. Here we are wondering why Instagram doesn’t just have Photoshop built into its program (heaven knows no filter will disguise the kangaroo pouch I’ve got hanging over my swimsuit bottoms) while society goes on acting two-faced and leaving us feeling guilty for how we feel about ourselves, good or bad.
To be honest, you may never love your body unconditionally. There will always be someone hotter, someone slimmer, someone fitter to make you question your physique. You will always have days every now and again where you look in the mirror and just think “ugh” and no amount of cheesy affirmations will prevent that.
That’s why we are starting from ground-zero. It’s about working your way up to tolerance, then to acceptance and finally to love. Instead of aiming for “I am beautiful/I love my imperfections” tomorrow, we’ve got to aim for “I might not like how I look right now but I am damn-well sure I’m going to make the most of what I’ve got regardless.”
To start, you’ve got to understand that your body is not going to blow up just because you ate a few extra slices of pizza. Your body is a power-house, it can withstand broken bones, blunt force, hell even labor and you’re worried about what a few extra calories are going to do to it? Don’t get me wrong, it’s always good to eat healthy and to avoid falling into a routine of comfort foods and unhealthy eating. But to beat yourself up every time you stray off course and to worry that the scale is going to be 10 pounds heavier the next morning is no way to live.
Speaking of scales- your attractiveness, beauty, and self-worth is not determined by a number. A scale can show you how much you weigh but it cannot show you how your eyes light up when you talk about your passions or how smile widens when you see a dog. It can’t show how much you mean to your friends or how many peoples’ days you’ve made just by being there.
You’ve got to understand that things take time. Your attitude about your body won’t change overnight. Growth of any kind takes patience and care. Don’t beat yourself up when you feel less than great about the person in the mirror. There will be days where you feel like crap and there will be days where you feel happy and alive, that’s life. You’ve just gotta trust that over time the good will outweigh the bad.
Un-hating your body is about taking the first few steps to self- acceptance. It’s the process of becoming friends with yourself and living authentically despite how you look or feel. This type of mindset might not be found alongside a “Live Laugh Love” poster, but it’s message is still hopeful. It’s realistic and obtainable. It removes the guilt we may feel for giving into the superficial ideals we’ve been taught and it allows us to grow at our own pace. Un-hate might just be the first step we need to real love.