My body is beautiful
Ok, that wasn’t so bad. Let’s say it again. “My body is beautiful.”
“I love and appreciate my body.”
“I thank my body for strength, courage, and protection.”
“I am grateful for the good food that nourishes my body and fuels my life, love, and work.”
Yesterday, I had the distinct pleasure of facilitating a workshop on the intersections of sexual violence and eating disorders at the PA Coalition Against Rape’s Annual Conference. Thanks to the incredible research prowess of Liz Zadnik (PCAR Trainer), my talented co-facilitator, a group of dedicated PA advocates explored research findings related to Eating Disorders and Sexual Violence and how to provide effective prevention and response. For more information on the intersections, check out the resource pages on this topic.
One of the major themes for this workshop was the value and importance of connecting with and celebrating the body. In the landmark resource Our Bodies, Ourselves, a section on body image, weight, and size analyzes issues of media representation, racism, ability, and social expectations as elements that influence our health, relationships with and perceptions of our bodies. There are some things that we simply can’t change when it comes to risk factors for sexual violence, eating disorders, and body image issues. Examples include a family history of sexualized violence, genetic links to eating disorders, or the longstanding history of systems that dictate beauty and value.
What we can change are the environmental influences that fire up these pre-existing risk factors. One approach is to understand, critically evaluate, and disrupt harmful media messaging. I’m not totally convinced that bikinis and celebrities are going to win this one for us, but I do really like the idea of real images, honoring our bodies, and raising media savvy youth.
Jean Kilbourne in Killing Us Softly 4 says that the first step to the widespread problem of harmful media representations is educating ourselves on the issue. I might need something a little closer to home to get started on this one. For me, the first step is an affirmation.
“My body is beautiful.”