My weight has been a topic of apparent concern for some lately, so I feel compelled to address it. It’s funny to me that it seems that someone is always unhappy with our bodies. Right?! I was unhappy with it when I was overweight and unhealthy because of the years when I was on steroids, and other people are unhappy with it because I guess I look thinner than they think I’m supposed to. Even in high school when I looked AMAZING, I only noticed my body’s flaws and didn’t really appreciate it. When I was overweight, mentally I felt like the same person I had always been, but I definitely noticed different treatment. People looked at me differently, or rather, I felt like I walked through life totally unseen. Usually I am my own worst critic, but I am in a really great place with my body these days. I am grateful for the hiking that it can do. I am grateful that it allows me to work my 12-hour shifts. I am grateful that’s it’s generally healthy. And dammit, I fucking love the way I look naked!! Finally, after all of these years, I’m in love with my body! But honestly, it took losing the body I had been used to and the health I had been used to and then getting them back for me to get to this place. My body isn’t perfect and I am sure it looked better back in high school and college, pre-baby. But so what? It doesn’t matter! I have the body that I have now. And I am so happy with it now!
So you can probably understand why other people’s opinions of my body don’t mean anything to me. But they do leave me with a general curiosity about why it is that people ever care about another person’s weight. I personally don’t find that I ever even think about someone else’s weight let alone talk to them about it. And I think there’s generally a misconception that while maybe it’s not OK to ask someone about their weight if they appear overweight, it is somehow perfectly ok to insinuate that someone is underweight. For instance I don’t think most people would feel comfortable going up to someone and saying “I’ve noticed you’ve gained some weight recently, is everything ok?” or “you’re SO fat.” But somehow it feels perfectly acceptable for people to say something like “you look like you’ve lost weight, are you ok?” or “you’re SO skinny.” As someone who has lived on both sides of that body fence, let me tell you that NEITHER telling someone that they’re fat or telling someone that they’re skinny is acceptable. Ever. So please stop doing it. Unless the body belongs to you, you’re in someone else’s business and not your own if you’re speaking to them about their weight.
We’re inundated with millions of perfectly photoshopped bodies from every source making us feel like our normal bodies thin, thick, with loose skin, wrinkles, scars, and stretch marks aren’t beautiful just as they are. It’s driving the market for Botox injections, boob jobs, tummy tucks, among whatever else is currently being sold to us as the next best fix for our imperfect selves. We’re being taught that looks are everything, but looks fade as nothing lasts forever, and then what are we left with? If we think our looks are who we are, how will we feel when we age and lose them? Jake Ducey pointed this out at the workshop of his I went to titled “Genius Within”: we are constantly being made to feel worthless and powerless so that we buy things that we don’t need to keep a few rich. Think about it. We’re surrounded by a culture that says we’re not enough just as we are, so maybe we should make an extra effort to love ourselves just as we are, and to give others space to be themselves just as they are. Maybe in that way, we can counterbalance some of the bullshit that society is telling us about ourselves and our bodies.
I’m sure that aside from genetics, some of my lifestyle choices have led to the type of body that I have. For nearly 10 years, I hiked and backpacked for work. So instead of sitting in an office, I got outside and moved my body, usually carrying heavy gear while I did it. When I have days off now, I love to hike. At my current job, I’m on my feet a LOT. I walked 3.5 miles at work yesterday. I don’t eat fast food. I avoid fried foods. I generally don’t eat much meat and have lately cut it out all together. I have been dealing with systemic yeast since my years on antibiotics, so lately I’ve been cutting processed sugars and carbs. I don’t drink coffee (because I don’t like it). I only occasionally drink pop or beer. I’m not a saint. I don’t eat healthy 100% of the time. Sometimes I eat a bunch of garbage. But my habits, my body, have everything to do with me and absolutely nothing to do with you. I rented this particular meat suit for this life, you didn’t. So the only one who has to live with it is me. I get to decide how to use it. I get to decide how I treat it. I get to decide what I put into it. I get to decide how much to move it. I don’t really want to sit around comparing my meat suit to yours because to me, there are so many more interesting things to contemplate in this life.
Bottom line is that our only competition is with ourselves. We don’t have to be better than anyone else. We only have to learn to love ourselves and our bodies. If we’re not happy with our meat suit, there are some things we can do like diet and exercise to help change them. But comparing our meat suits gets us nowhere of any importance, because what we’ll always find is that my meat suit is different from your meat suit is different from their meat suit. So what? What does that even mean in the grand scheme of things? We are not our bodies anyway. We’re just renting them for this short short period of time. Learn to love the body you have so that other people’s bodies don’t even phase you. Consider that people gain and lose weight for reasons beyond fast food and eating disorders. We are not here to fit into some “one-size-fits-all” box. We are all unique just as we’re supposed to be. I am done living my life to make other people happy. I am not here to make you comfortable. I am here to make myself happy, to make myself comfortable. I refuse to fit my beliefs into a box and I refuse to fit my body into a box. We are not here to conform, so that we can all be the same, act the same, and look the same! (My god that would be so boring!!). We are here to be our unique and beautiful selves and to serve this world in a way that only we can. Can you see how beautiful your body is just the way it is? Can you see how damaging it is to compare yourself in any capacity to others? In the end, the only opinion about us that matters is our own.
Personally, I especially enjoy being around people who don’t sacrifice their uniqueness for conformity’s sake. To me, the people who are living their lives true to themselves are the interesting ones, the truly beautiful ones, regardless of the size, shape, and outward appearance of their meat suits.
Listen to Michael Franti’s “I’m Alive (Life Sounds Like)” HERE
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(I first heard our bodies being referred to as “meat suits” by Jake Ducey at his workshop, “Genius Within.” I then heard the term used like this again in the documentary “The Secret.” So, I did not coin the term “meat suit”, but I absolutely love it!)