Hi there! Welcome to this week’s episode of Charlie’s Toolbox, this week we discuss the body and how we can encourage love and appreciation for it. I chose this topic because we are in the new year, and typically the new year comes with weight and body goals. Along with those goals is an increase in criticism, self-loathing, and an internal dialogue that would quite frankly crush you. The objective of this episode is to steer you in another direction and provide you with a set of tools to inspire appreciation for your body. Please note that I am not a doctor, or a psychiatrist, I am simply a person who understands what it feels like to feel uncomfortable in your body. Before we get into the main topic, let’s discuss my favorite subject, me, the world, the song of the week, and finally the main topic.
I am in a great space. For the past two weeks, I’ve been giving my best in life. I wake up semi-early, do my affirmations, work out, and write my intentions. Unfortunately, this does works. I hate how much it makes my day better and gives me a positive attitude, but it does. So, I am reorganizing my day to make my attitude lighter. I am also semi-sober, meaning I don’t drink or partake in anything else at home, but when I go out with friends, I may get a cocktail or a glass of wine. Ultimately, these slight changes have made a huge difference and it feels good to give life and myself my best.
About the World
In terms of the world, I read a new article from Philly Mag about body neutrality for this episode. The title is, “This Body-Image Approach Can Help Reframe the Way You Talk and Think About Yourself.” One quote that captured what it is we are all facing was the following: “It seems that no matter what you do when it comes to your body, there is, without fail, someone or some ad claiming there’s an ideal body to aspire to — and yours isn’t it.” That was a crushing statement and incredibly true. The girl whom we think has the perfect body is always reaching to look like someone else whom she feels has the perfect body and the cycle continues. However, we don’t have to be in a constant state of achieving, diminishing, criticizing, or trying with our body, we can be neutral.
Body neutrality, according to Sarah Jordan (2023),” focuses on the idea that the body is merely the physical structure that moves us through the world.” She states that body neutrality is unlike its predecessor body positivity (which claims that we all should love our bodies no matter what they look like), body neutrality removes appearance from the equation completely and instead encourages you to accept and respect what your body can do.
I think this thinking is in the right direction, but we don’t want to go too far because we can easily fall into ableism. We can easily make function the marker of neutrality when being alive should be the marker of neutrality. I think the perfect idea of neutrality is focusing on how our body keeps us alive to collect a wealth of experiences. We are lucky because we have this vessel that gets to experience life, in this lifetime, and isn’t that amazing?
So, give yourself some time to think about how we can generate gratitude, care, and love for our body by thinking about the experiences it led us to and got us through. When I think about that I see my body as powerful because life is unpredictable and despite that my body adjusted and persevered.
Song of the Week
So, onto the song of the week. I've been listening to a lot of mixes on SoundCloud and I like this UNOXBrent Faiyaz mix that makes the song better. It’s just a vibe. You can listen to this with a group of friends, smoke if you partake, and just vibe out. So, enjoy!
The main topic is about finding ways to love or appreciate your body. This topic is always timely because our society is constructed in a way to warp your perspective of your body. Though we are working collectively to remove these barriers, they are still pervasive, and we need frameworks, tips, and ideas to help us on an individual level to love, enjoy, or appreciate our bodies. I will provide some ideas and tips that have helped me but please note that I am not a licensed therapist. However, if something resonates with you feel free to incorporate it and use it.
You all know that I will always point to our structures and culture because all of what we experience and learn is by design and our bodies are no different. Whenever you live outside of the contours of “society,” you are going to be culturally ostracized. So, when you hate your body, you are doing what culture has taught you because there is nothing innately wrong with your body. If you are alive, your body is perfect because that is all we really need, and without cultural oppression and societal influence you would never have any negative opinions about your body. So, know that your thoughts are not because of you, they are a direct result of structures that influence, favor, and punish certain bodies for existing. Despite our best efforts it is very hard to like your body in a system or structure as pervasive as this one, which is why so many people struggle with it. So stop blaming yourself, and know that your culture and this society are directly responsible for your thoughts and maybe that thought can provide some relief from guilt, shame, and anguish. An action step that may help with this is whenever you notice harmful thoughts, name it something you hate, and tell It to go. For example, when I feel criticism come up, I go ok LA fashion because I do not like the spandex with chunky tennis shoes or an oversize t-shirt look! And I won’t be taking criticism from you!
Anne Porrier develops the term Body Neutrality. Body neutrality is different from body positivity insofar as it doesn't involve loving your body or concentrating on your physical appearance. Instead, it places emphasis on accepting your body and focuses more on the body's abilities and non-physical characteristics. Though functionality is a great place to start, as mentioned before, it can easily steer into ableism. So, I’d push for experience-based gratitude. You should love or accept your body because, without your body, you would not be able to enjoy those moments of extreme highs, peace, laughter, communion, rest, love, care, sex, and friendship. Without your body, those things do not exist. So, appreciate your body for allowing you to experience a range of beautiful emotions. An action step to incorporate into your day-to-day routine is to post a sticky note on your mirror that says what will your body experience today? It is a simple reminder that helps guide your thoughts to experiences and helps you look forward to the day, instead of scanning your body for all its so-called imperfections.
One tip that I absolutely love and provides relief is to know that you don’t have to….You might love your body today, but tomorrow you don’t have to. You may accept your body sometimes and sometimes you are annoyed. Most of the shame around your body is created by the feelings of what you should be doing, but honestly, the act of loving your body can seem like enormous work. It can be tiring, frustrating, and annoying. It can feel like you are scaling up a high ass mountain that you will never reach the top of. So, why not let that fight or struggle go? Why not stop trying to love or accept your body, and just leave it alone? Now, I know that is easier said than done but here are some action steps to help you get there. An action Item: You know your routine, so omit the step where you spend time self-loathing like going to the mirror to scan your body, bypass that step. Getting on the scale, throw it away, or ask someone to hide it. When you are putting on clothes, create outfits for the week so you don’t have to be in the mirror all day long, put on your clothes, leave your body alone, and go do what you said you wanted to do for the day. That can be a great first step and a way to reclaim your thoughts and time.
This is a simple one, but one that works. Buy clothes that fit and are in your size. Stop buying hopeful sizes. Stop buying your old size, buy what fits you now. It feels better when you put on clothes that fit. It also helps you experience your body in comfort as opposed to viewing your body as this unmanageable uncomfortable thing. Action Item: Go through your closet and remove things that don’t fit, do it.
Be aware of how Fatphobia or fat bias shows up. Fatphobia is pervasive and can show up in many ways, one way it shows up unnoticed is through disordered eating-. Now, I can’t talk assertively on this topic, because I am not credentialed, but I can say that a lot of what we call diet, monitoring, keto, or whatever new diet fad is disordered eating in a bow. This is not to shame anyone; this is to help you all be aware of it and ensure you don’t allow these diets and fads to be an entryway into more disordered eating or strengthen internalized fatphobia.
Develop quick and nasty replies to invasive questions or criticisms. I hate that you may have to do this, but sometimes we feel disempowered because when our bodies are scrutinized the only thing, we could think about doing is being quiet. It’s how we cope. It’s how we get attention off us. It’s our first reaction, and sometimes that reaction makes us feel disempowered. Sometimes, you think all night of ways that you could insult that piece of shit who made you feel small or out of place. So, to bypass that regretful thinking, develop a set of comebacks to use whenever you are in a situation like that. You can be nasty, rude, and hurtful because people need to be reminded that you and your body are off-limits. This can also feel empowering because your body is worth defending and you should defend it with all your might. So, whatever vitriol or anger that you have bubbling up write it all down on a piece of paper and remember three so that if or when that situation arises, you have a nasty read that’ll lay someone out.
And on that note, yall take care!