2017 is a fresh start.
Every new year is a fresh start. The beginning of every school year, each semester – a fresh start. Each month. The first day in a class after an exam. The forty thousand Mondays the average person will live. Every single solitary day you live: fresh starts.
And with each fresh start comes the chance for a personal revolution. The idea of a New Year’s resolution is nothing new – not to society as a whole, and not to me.
I used to make resolutions, and a lot of them. In my (painfully awkward) middle school years, I was determined: to be cooler. To make new friends. To write in my journal every day and to keep my room clean. But mostly, I had big dreams of being “cool”.
Recently, though, my take on resolutions has changed. Experts talk about making “SMART” (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time – Bound) goals, obviously, great advice. I might still make a goal or two following those parameters – perhaps to go to church every weekend, or maybe to wash my dishes the same day I dirty them, rather than letting them stack in the dish drainer for several days. Lately, though, I’ve been leaning towards broader resolutions – to be more adventurous, or to develop better time management skills.
The past few weeks, as I’ve considered 2017, I thought, “Maybe I’ll resolve to love my body more this year.” But that will not be my resolution this year.
At first, that choice seems counter-intuitive: as a member of Embody, shouldn’t I practice what I preach and love my body? As a feminist, shouldn’t I be proud of this body in which I was born? As a human, shouldn’t I love myself?
Let me explain.
Sometimes, I love my body. There are mornings when I wake up and feel sun-kissed, even as the clouds hang heavy all day. There are afternoons when the long trudge to class is instead a strut down the runway. There are evenings when I text my boyfriend “Hey. I feel pretty today. Let’s go out to dinner.”
But there are also days quite the opposite, when the whole world is wrong and it seems that my body is to blame.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the days when I love my body. It feels good to feel good. But every yin must have a yang, and just the same, it feels bad to feel bad. I would like to find a middle ground. I want to find body neutrality.
Body neutrality, also referred to as body acceptance, is a subset of the over-arching body positivity movement. Body neutrality is the idea of accepting your body as is, without passionate love or hate. It is the idea of embracing that this is the body you live in, and will always live in. It’s the idea that, when all-out body positivity seems unachievable, there is still a step forward, to move even a little closer to self-love. Body neutrality can be an in-between step in the journey, or it can be a final goal – that’s up to each individual. Body neutrality is taking care of and working to understand the body you have, for better or for worse.
Don’t get me wrong, I adore body positivity! I LOVE when people love their bodies, proud and uninhibited. In my happy, glowing dream world, everyone would find joy in themselves. Unfortunately, though, that’s not the world that exists. For some, the idea of unconditionally loving their bodies seems impossible – and an unrealistic goal, as SMART goals tell us, is not a good goal. So, for those for whom body positivity is too far a reach right now, body acceptance and neutrality can be a good starting place.
The ever-wonderful Carrie Fisher once tweeted, in response to judgements about whether or not she had aged well: “My body is my brain bag, it hauls me around to those places and in front of faces where there’s something to say or see.” In 2017, I will take my inspiration from Princess Leia – or better, General Organa – herself.
I resolve to strive for body acceptance. When I look in the mirror, I resolve to look myself in the eye. I will not scowl at the woman who looks back, nor will I shower her in insincere compliments. I will not put on clothes just to hide within, and I won’t try on 7 outfits to see what “looks the best”. This is the body I have, and I will exist in it, and I will not resent it. My body does its job (or at least, despite a myriad of malfunctions – hello, terrible eyesight – functions well enough). My body is home to my heart, mind, and soul, and I resolve to treat it with the respect it deserves.
And on days when I wake up and just feel good, when I love my body and when I glow – all the better.
Happy New Year, and may 2017 bring you joy, love, and blessings!