I recently took a great workshop with Kelly Diels called ‘naming your thing’ for people whose work is a combination of different elements, approaches and traditions.
During the workshop, we got to identify, among other things, the “Villain” of our work; the greater force or paradigm that is obstructing our vision.
In a previous post, I shared about my Vision. Today, I want to talk to you about what this Vision has emerged in response to.
And this is what I call: the Project/Problem Body Culture.
It is the paradigm in which our bodies are meant to be a project we need to work on, perfect, and present to the world to be rewarded, to receive acceptance and admiration, to be good and worthy. This project comes with specific measures of success; there are exact body dimensions and “health” standards we need to achieve to get a “good grade”. (health in quotes, because I’m talking about healthy = thin)
Then, if our project doesn’t come out as planned, if we “fail” at it, or our bodies “fail” to do what we ask them to, it all turns into a problem. Not A problem, but our main, most pressing, most embarrassing problem. One that we need to fix as soon as possible, at any cost. That needs to be a priority over anything else.
To add another layer to it, I’m talking about the Inanimate Body Culture.
The one that teaches us that the body is a machine that has no life of its own, no intelligence, no substance. The one that sees who we are as people, our Self and Soul, as completely separate from and outside of the body.
This is the force that is keeping us in a perpetual battle with food and body. Why?
Because while the body is inanimate, an object, we cannot have an actual relationship with it -there is, supposedly, nothing to connect to.
And since the body is only a project or problem, our duty is to manipulate it, dominate it and, if it doesn’t obey, push harder.
But precisely because the body is anything but a lifeless object, it is bound to react. It will try to call for our attention. It will make ‘noise’. And that is when our difficulties with food and body-image arise.We either rebel and sabotage our “best” efforts by breaking the diet, overeating, giving up the exercise routine we had committed to…or we start suffering inside, while externally looking like we are succeeding -our project body going well, but our soul and psyche experiencing the problem.
What those struggles really are is messages from both soul and body that something needs to change. But before we even have the chance to listen, the Project/Problem Body Culture immediately comes in and tell us -it is your body’s fault, let’s fix it. You don’t have the right tool yet (insert: diet, detox, fitness plan, etc.) -I’ve got it for you. Or, you don’t have enough self-discipline and control (in other words, it is *your* fault), so try harder -here are some ‘hacks’.
And this is what we do. Until we recognise, name and address the real problem -and that is the culture, not our bodies.
Until we realise that: The body is not the problem, it is the solution. 🙏🏼
*In honour of #worldmentalhealthday -the Project/Problem Body Culture harms our mental & emotional health as much as it does our physical (often more).