How Do You See Your Body?

21 Sep

TGIF, ya’ll! I’m so not Southern, but I am running out of ways to address you in the plural, so I thought I’d switch it up 😉

I ate a huge bowl of cereal for breakfast this morning: Trader Joe’s cereal with a generous helping of raw oats. I sprinkled some chia seeds on top, along with some frozen berries that I had thawed in the microwave.

Stef and I are super zonked from the week, so I’m guessing we’re going to have a really exciting night on the couch with a movie or some television. Party people, you guys.

Anyway, today is Friday and I want to highlight a blog post I really enjoyed, which was written by Cait ate Cait Plus Ate. This post was actually a guest post for Grow Soul Beautiful, but Cait also talked about how it was relevant in her life in one of her most recent blog posts. Her post, entitled ‘Instrument vs. Ornament: How Do You See Your Body?’ is about seeing your body from two perspectives: an instrument; which is capable of running a marathon, riding a bike, carrying a child, or seeing it as an ornament, meant to be appreciated by and displayed for others.

Cait says in her post that it is a constant struggle to see her own body as an instrument, rather than an ornament. “But it takes effort for me to see my body as an instrument. Instead, I focus so much on it as an ornament, or an item on display for others to see. An ornament never exists for its own good. It exists for the viewing and enjoyment of others. What will people think of my body? How will they view it? Will they like what they see? These are the thoughts that invade my mind naturally, as unfortunate as that is. I have fallen into the habit, the tendency, the mindset of seeing my body as an ornament for others. I do not come into the picture unless my mind wants to tell me I’m no good, that I’m not trying hard enough to make my body that perfect ornament.”

The reason I want to highlight this post is because I have been constantly bombarded on Pinterest by posts of skinny women whose bodies are being pinned as “thinspiration” or “fitspiration”. Now, my own opinion of this phenomenon is a topic for another day, but I do think it presents an interesting question: are people posting pictures of these girls because they want to do what’s best for their body? In Cait’s words, “instruments need to be tuned. They need tender loving care. That care can come in the form of vegetables, or dessert. It can come in the form of a run, or a rest.” Or are they posting these pictures simply because they want to look like the girls in the pictures for purely aesthetic reasons?

I know this is an internal struggle for me – it probably is for just about every woman in America. At the risk of sounding cliche, our society does have preconceived notions about what is beautiful and many of us spend our lives trying to fit the mold. Thin is what’s considered beautiful in our country and thin is also considered a sign of health. Many people assume that if somebody is skinny, they are healthy – though their diets might be atrocious and their thinness hereditary, rather than a result of exercise.

The New York Times just posted an article about how fitness matters more than weight and that people who are overweight are not necessarily at risk for diabetes or heart disease, if they eat well and lead active lifestyles. But despite credible sources telling us that taking care of what’s inside our bodies matters more than what appears on the outside, why are we so consumed by the way we present ourselves?

Cait’s post (you should check our her blog, it’s wonderful) reminded me that I, too, get caught up in appearances and fixate on the parts of my body that I want to fix (my thighs, for starters), and that I should instead focus on what my body is capable of doing and why I’m thankful for that. So, here’s a couple of things that I am normally unhappy with about my body as an ornament and how I’m transforming that discomfort into something I am proud of as an instrument. Feel free to leave a comment with your own list!

Body Grievances Thank My Body List

I really wish my thighs were thinner. I am proud that I have muscular thighs that help me jump high and hit hard in volleyball.

I wish my butt wasn’t so big. I am lucky I have enough padding in my seat so I can sit down and feel comfortable.

I wish I had smaller, perkier boobs. I am looking forward to the day (wayyy in the future!) when I can use them to feed my baby.

Why can’t my hair be easier to tame? My hair does such a good job of keeping my head warm in the winter!

I hope everybody can take a minute today and look in the mirror and instead of pointing out all the things that are unsatisfying to you, notice the things that help you in your life: be it your smile that makes other people feel welcome, your toes that are perfect for pedicures, your excellent eyesight – whatever! I’d love to hear what you come up with 🙂

Food For Thought: Do you view your body as an instrument or an ornament? Maybe you feel different at certain times of the day or around certain people?

4 Responses to “How Do You See Your Body?”

  1. Click. The Good News September 21, 2012 at 11:10 am #

    So glad you stopped by Grow Soul Beautiful! We’re all about learning to love ourselves- mind+body, and encouraging people to do as much inside work as outside work. Have a lovely weekend! Amanda

  2. Caitlin September 21, 2012 at 12:12 pm #

    Oh my goodness Sara!!! Reading your list has just moved me SO very much. I am so thankful for the support I have gotten from my GsB and blog post (thanks for the blog shout out too) via Twitter, emails, etc. But to have a whole blog post written in response…I’m floored. And I love how you made this list. What a great way to appreciate your beautiful, strong body! I hope you have a good weekend and I will be making mental lists myself as I encounter challenges that may make me anxious!


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