Let's get naked
What's your relationship with your body? Have you ever asked yourself that question? If you haven't you should.
Because you're stuck in it your feelings on it notwithstanding.
Which begs the question of whether you interrogate your relationship with your body beyond it being a vessel that you inhabit. When was the last time you stood naked in the mirror and just looked at yourself? Not because you're trying to figure out whether you've stepped down on the kilos, or built some muscle, or a scar has healed but because you wanted to build a better relationship with your build.
It's a place we should all go to at some point because it's important to be at peace with the one body that we possess for a lifetime. We all have feelings about our bodies that we don't always voice but which exist somewhere at the back of our minds. What's the first thought that came to your mind when you read this? Were you thinking about the thing that you love about your body or the thing that you wish that you could change about it? Were you thinking about that dream body that you've always aspired towards or the fact that at some point, you had to accept your package despite its limitations?
Now ask yourself what has contributed to your said opinion of your body. Was it a music video? A movie? A friend? Your mother's comments? Or is it from a random comment that someone made which has stuck around?
The past couple of weeks, professional baby daddy and fitness trainer, Frankie Just Gym It, has sparked an interesting conversation around our bodies. So he's had two separate posts online which have pictures of him standing on the side of the road with placards. One read "Look at your stomach, are you happy?" and placard two read "Slimming tea na mandazi tatu is not a meal."
As always, it set off a chain of online reactions. Instagram's fun-loving crowd fell in love with the messages while Twitter was on fire with threads and think pieces, either supporting or trashing the campaign. Discussions centered around whether this was bullying or shaming by a personal trainer and whether it would work.
I don't quite know the answer to that question right now because I've tried to work out twice or thrice in my life and failed terribly each time. The first time I hit the gym because I wanted to fill in my skinny profile with bulging muscles, then later on I wanted to cut out the chubbiness, and more recently because I wanted to deliver better strokes.
Of the three causes, I think the last one was more worthy because three pumps and a huff and puff is not the reputation I aspire towards. But perhaps we need to look at our bodies beyond the politics of attractiveness that we operate within. We need to look at our bodies as physical spaces that we truly inhabit and get comfortable with what we look like when we stare in the mirror. We should be self-accepting even as we put on those pants that grabs all the wrong places or that shirt that we feel fits a bit too well for your liking. Though, to be honest, this calls for a wardrobe change.
It's easy to get trapped in an unhealthy obsession with your body if you don't actively interrogate it. It's easy to get obsessed with your body in an unhealthy way. Going to the gym can be an amazing thing but are you there because you enjoy it or because you're running away from body insecurities that you've battled for ages? That skin routine is amazing but are you spending tens of thousands per month because you don't want the pimples that reminded you of your tough teenage years? Are you trying to gain weight because you think that a bigger body is more manly or are you trying to lose it because someone made a joke about your "man boobs" and even though you shrugged it off, it stung hard and that's all you see now?
Self-acceptance is hard to come by today. However, getting naked more often, while appreciating what God gave you warts and all, can have great benefits for you. It's freeing to be free from the stomach industrial complex, where markers of health start and end at your tummy and not with more important medical factors like cholesterol level and heart function. Without introspection, your body changes from a space you inhabit to a prison that you can't break out of. The worst thing about your body is that you're stuck with it, plastic surgery notwithstanding. Do you feel like your body is your own?
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