body, movement, & dance

Week Four: Talking with our Peers

Sunday: started strength training
Monday: bought a sports bra
Tuesday: chose to extend my morning workout
Wednesday: took an extra-long hot shower
Thursday: taught a sex ed class in which we discussed body image
Friday: went out dancing
Saturday: lounged and pampered myself after working out

It just so happens that this week’s young adult sex ed curriculum included an activity addressing body image. I was actually really nervous about asking participants to reflect on in their history of feelings about their body — in a mixed gender setting, and only in our second session. As it happened, the participants rose to the challenge and shared quite meaningfully, given that the activity provided certain measures of anonymity.

I’ve been reflecting on why I thought that asking young adults to talk about their body image would be too much. I think what I’ve experienced at times is a certain sense of “all or nothing” in terms of how I’m expected to feel about my body. Either I’m struggling and have issues, or I’m empowered and love myself fully. But my reality includes both parts of this duality. Enjoying a healthy, positive body image is a process just as much as maintaining an active, healthy lifestyle is a process. Every day. Believing that I deserve to love my body is a part of that process, but achieving this one step doesn’t mean that I’ve already completed the journey. And that’s totally okay because I’m getting there.

My hope is that by recognizing positive body image as a process, we can help each other discuss the bumps and bonuses along the way, distancing ourselves from labels and comparison.

As part of Thursday’s class, participants wrote how they hope to feel about their bodies in the future. What does a positive body image mean to you? How would it feel, what would you say, and how would you act? What are you working towards?

Published by Mimi Arbeit

applied developmental scientist, antifascist community organizer, sexuality educator

2 thoughts on “Week Four: Talking with our Peers”

  1. Anonymous says:

    For me… a positive body image can only happen when I feel strong and slim. When I'm having a 'fat day' or i'm not in my body enough, using it enough (running, surfing) at any weight (and there's a range) I don't feel good about it and me. It's not about eating.. it's about connection.

  2. Mimi says:

    Thank you for commenting! I agree. That feeling of connection is so important. That's what I'm trying to cultivate this week… a feeling of connection and movement in my body. (Keep an eye out for the reflection to be posted next week!)

    I think for me it's also what I do on my less active days that matters because I've dealt with a lot of physical limitations, and if I get injured again and can't work out, I don't want to lose the positive body image that I'm working so hard to cultivate.

    What do you do on the days when you're too busy to run or surf, or on the days you're sick? I find it challenging, at those times, to make sure I'm taking care of myself and giving myself space to be imperfect.

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