Photo by Alexa Mazzarello | Words by Erica McDonald
There was a time where I wanted to know everything there was to know about body image on the internet and around the world. I set up google alerts, read academic papers and studied social media accounts. [Note that this obsession has not ended, but it’s when the initial curiosity began.]
One day, I stumbled upon the most powerful article I have read on the subject. The piece brought tears to my eyes. Titled, “What the Dying Really Regret”, the author documented the thoughts of individuals with terminal illness, and their reflections as they prepared for the end of their lives.
One particular quote really stood out for me. The patient said,
"I am going to miss this body so much…I'd never admit it to my husband and kids, but more than anything else, it's my own body I'll miss most of all. This body that danced and ate and swam and had sex and made babies. It's amazing to think about it. This body actually made my children. It carried me through this world. And I'm going to have to leave it. I don't have a choice. And to think I spent all those years criticizing how it looked and never noticing how good it felt -- until now when it never feels good."
When we’re born, we’re given these beautiful bodies to carry us through life. They allow us to experience the world in all its wonder through smell, touch, sound, taste and sight. Through friends, relationships and all beings that cross our paths. But to think that the majority of us hate these vessels because apparently they’re never good enough?
When we look at the statistics, and the fact that 97% of women have negative thoughts about their bodies on a daily basis, there appears to be a serious problem. This is not just a momentary, fleeting thought. These beliefs compound over the course of an entire life, ruining beautiful moments, relationships, experiences and opportunities.
And, this hatred of appearance begins as young as nine years old. How is it we can allow this to happen to not only our youth, but to all humans as they reach every stage of their life?
The fact that it takes the end of a life to reflect on how these thoughts have been detrimental to the beauty of being alive.
We hear our mothers and sisters and friends and colleagues shame their bodies. We have normalized these conversations of self-hatred. As if not being good enough is the status quo. With constant diets, unrealistic comparisons and a desire to fit a mould that is frankly, fake. A constant gnawing of being insufficient, seeping into all areas of life.
When we look to the children of our world, do we want them to feel this way as they grow up? As they find their sense of self and worth? It’s like we’ve given them an automatic psychological disability from the moment they are born.
It’s important to reflect on the thoughts we’ve normalized. Because, as the patients from the article recognized, it shouldn’t be at the end of our lives that we realize these thoughts have created negative and irreversible impact.
This is what BodyThoughts cares about and this is why it was created. It is a space to reflect and challenge these ingrained thoughts, and to experience the body in a way that is free of judgement. It is a gentle and meditative place to just be, to enter a new conversation. BodyThoughts does not define beauty. It does not tell you how to feel. It does not decide what is right or what is wrong. BodyThoughts simply invites you into a question and gives you the space to discover the answer.