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January 8, 2011 / Katie

My New Years Revolution

I just loved the New Years Revolution campaign that so many FA bloggers have been talking about.

For my part, I chose to write this month’s Tea & Empathy, the monthly column I write for my church’s newsletter, about body acceptance.  It is written in a very 101 style so that it’s accessible for folks with no exposure to fat liberation theory.

The original article is published here.

Full text:

Did you make new years resolutions this year?  I made two.  One was to be more intentional about journaling.  The other, much more difficult and important, is that I have resolved to be kind to myself, and the most difficult aspect of that, for me and for many of us, is to be kind to my body.  After all, this is a time when we are bombarded with advertisements for diet plans and gyms, we are reminded of our “overindulgences” of holiday food and drink, and we are told that there is something inherently flawed or deficient about our bodies that needs changing.  It’s a powerful cultural message, and I believe each and every one of us, to one degree or another, has internalized it.

So I’m here to propose a different way, a better way, a freer way.  How about, instead of holding our bodies up to an external standard, we learn to trust and listen to our bodies?  It is in this way that we can truly be kind to our bodies and our selves.  Instead of trying to fit the size and shape of our bodies into a culturally defined (and thus external) norm, what if we accept the size and shape of our body, as it is now… no ifs, ands, or buts?  What if, instead of adhering to rigid (again, external) diet plans, we learn to trust our body’s hunger cues to tell us what and when we need to eat?  What if we found ways to play and dance and enjoy the way our bodies can move and work, instead of forcing ourselves into external expectations about going to the gym X times per week, or spending X hours a day “exercising”?

What I’m proposing is a radical idea: to make peace with our bodies.  Peace, after all, is a radical proposition in any form.  At Christmas we talked about Jesus being the Prince of Peace.  Often, that word “peace” gets watered down to mean something closer to “niceness,” an artificial politeness rather than the kind of radical trust and vulnerability that is required for true peace between peoples.  If we all took the charge for peace seriously, we would have to face the reality that peace is political.  It means no more war.  It means no more oppression.  It means no more divide between rich and poor.  This is the fundamental message of the Christ, who showed us how to live in peace with one another.  It is a charge that we Christians today are not living up to very well.

But even if we wanted to live up to this charge of peace better, how could we ever get there if we’re not even at peace with our own bodies?  If our mind and our body are not integrated, not working in tandem, without kindness and trust, there is no peace within us.  And if there is no peace within us, then how can we be at peace with others?  How can we seek peace in the world?  So yes, what I am calling us to is radical.  I’m calling us to radical kindness, trust, acceptance, and love of our own bodies, for that first step is the only way that we can ever begin to find that same radical kindness, trust, acceptance, and love of our neighbors next door and all over the globe.

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3 Comments

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  1. Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC / Jan 8 2011 11:33 pm

    Hello,
    Thank you for the post on New Year’s Revolution. You’re right, our culture sends so many messages that we should be thin to be beautiful. But God says, “Man looks at outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.” ( I think it’s in II Samuel but it’s way past my bed time!)

    I’m a Christian and a licensed mental health counselor and am writing a book called “Reclaiming the Plunder of the Body Image Bandit.” Food and body image issues are much more about our hearts and our stories than anything else. Until we have the courage to face the struggles that led us through the door of food addiction (and other eating disorders), we can’t fight the Body Image Bandit and win. I’ve offered many key pieces to this in the blog and book. My hope is that the book and blog will help people to celebrate that they are each masterpieces in God’s sight. I hope you get the opportunity to check it out. Have a wonderful 2011. Take care, Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC http://www.cherriemac.wordpress.com.

    • Katie / Jan 17 2011 5:06 pm

      Hi Cherrie,

      Sorry, your comment went to spam for some reason so that’s why it took so long to get approved!

      The verse you are thinking of is from I Samuel 16:7: for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.

      Love that verse :)

  2. Dee / Jan 9 2011 11:03 am

    That’s really beautiful. I’m sure that it’s going to inspire some thought and have a positive effect on people.

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