Unlocking our obsession with body image
WIL Brisbane // February 2017 Event Blog
Picture this: a couple of two-year-old toddlers running around in nappies together. A pretty common sight in most family households at some stage, kids laughing and playing together. Neither child cares one iota what the other looks like, neither is paying attention to the shape of the other’s (nor their own) legs, tummy, skin or bottom, it simply doesn’t occur to either child to notice or care, let alone obsess over.
Yet chances are these children won’t always be this way, this carefree. So why not?
Why do we grow up to care so much about what shape we are, what we look like, if we measure up? How did we go from one beautiful way of being with ourselves to a very different way, a very controlling, critical, judging way of being? And the question I then have to ask myself is does it have to change? Is this just something to cope with, accept as part of becoming an adult because we are human?
This is why I just had to attend the Unlocking our Obsession with Body Image event last month (February 2017). It doesn’t make sense to me that we – men and women – invest copious amounts of energy, effort and money concerned (to put it mildly) on our external appearance that as children show us, was never in existence the day they were born.
I arrived at the workshop with a fledgling sense of why this is our reality, however I left with a far grander and comprehensive understanding, along with tools that I know will support me when I look in the mirror and don’t like my reflection.
Rebecca Asquith opened the presentation with what in the first ten minutes, felt like a bomb had been dropped. More a bomb of revelation rather than a bomb of gun powder, but you could sense that she had unleashed an understanding that would be very powerful, and this coming from a women who revealed she has spent a lifetime dissecting her own body parts.
Rebecca quickly explained that when we do this, you don’t or can’t see the whole of you, you segment yourself into the pieces that need fixing, zeroing in on any number of problems. I can see this then leads to forever trapping oneself in a merry go round of what amounts to body image issues. Every woman in the room was nodding.
Then came the bomb: we don’t have an issue with our body image, our issue is with what the body is reflecting about the relationship we have with our (inner) self.
Reacting to what we see in the mirror at the end of the day, making it about the fact we don’t think we measure up to the images and pictures we have of beauty, and living as if we are only three-dimensional – fingers, flesh and form, we will never get past the body image issue.
Are we not more than this? We feel everything all of the time. We are actually multi dimensional. We have a connection to universality. Is it that feeling, that sense that we are more, that we are multidimensional that we are resisting and instead making it only about what we see with our eyes? I’ll come back to this...
At this point, I knew Rebecca was on to something. We need to have a relationship with this multi-dimensionality to ditch our obsession with what we look like.
We can blame the media, the fashion magazines, reality tv, celebrities, our mothers or our culture for feeding us the pictures that we have in our head that we don’t measure up to, but that will always leave us going around in circles trying to fix something, leaving out the fact we are more than a human body.
Blindly trying to accept our shape whatever it is, being ‘happy with what we’ve got’, telling ourselves there are people much worse off than us etc etc is not the answer and never will be as it is still us living in the 3D. We know there is an inner feeling that is there, but trying to fix the outer to get to the inner feeling is not possible.
The body is always reflecting something and so changing the relationship with your body, seeing it as offering a reflection on the relationship you have with yourself – your essence – is bringing in another dimension. The criticism or judgment of our shape that we then call a body image issue, has no place, in fact finding faults with our bodies is the greatest distraction from us knowing who we truly are.
Coming back to the toddler example, they still have that connection with how they feel on the inside, a natural sense of their own beauty and so what they look like doesn’t rate concern. It is not that we grow up to realise or learn we have flaws, or that someone is better looking than another; it is that we grow up and disconnect from our selves, from the knowingness we were born already beautiful, that has caused the obsession we were there to talk about.
So this resistance or downright rejection of multi-dimensionality... why would or do we do this?
Rebecca posed the question: Why do we have an issue that we are multidimensional?
The answer of course could be different for us all, but I related deeply with what Rebecca offered, that feeling absolutely beautiful and showing that to the world seems far more dangerous than lacking self worth and living with the notion there is something wrong with my body that needs to be fixed. Being constantly distracted about my body image (and any number of other things) means I don’t have to see the possibilities of what a woman living in her power or living in her own knowingness of who she is.
“What is it about women that is so powerful that we need to be constantly distracted by what we look like to quell it?” Jean Gamble
And so I got that this obsession we have with the outer is crippling us globally, and the only way we free ourselves is through connecting with ourselves, our very natural inner beauty, finding out who we truly are along the way.
“You can pick anything to pick on and until you say it is my essence that makes me beautiful, you will have a body image problem.” Rebecca Asquith
Does this mean we then don’t give a cr*p about what we look like? Of course not! That feeling inside is the beauty, and expressing that beauty through what we look like on the outside is our responsibility. There is nothing wrong with appreciating and celebrating our appearance, for it can and does confirm the quality of our inner relationship. This celebrating energy grows and when you feed your body that, your wardrobe will change, your make-up with change, your shoes will change. I loved this; having a relationship with clothes that isn’t superficial, but a way to express my inner feelings, like art on a canvas.
“...True beauty first comes as a feeling, when we allow that out it becomes an emanation.” Rebecca Asquith
Often I know I am feeling the beauty inside me, but not seeing it reflecting back to me when I look in the mirror or see photographs of myself. I came away from the workshop understanding that this simply means I need to express that beauty more to the world. Seriously, for me this was a real revelation.
And the day didn’t end there, with the divine 60-something Karin Becker delivering on the ageless quality of beauty and leading us in Sacred Movement, along with Jean Gamble presenting that the shape that we are is not about what we eat; when we are living from our essence, the body becomes the shape that it is meant to be and that shape then reflects true beauty.
“If we care for anything we end up loving it.” Jean Gamble
We all want to see global change with how women relate to their bodies. Female genital mutilation in the developing world and vaginoplasty in the western world do not need to feature in the already long list of what women feel they need to do to feel their worth. What will create the global change that we all want to see and feel, is women emanating the beauty that they have connected to and expressing that for all to enjoy. There will be no body image issue then.