If you're one of my longtime followers, you might be wondering what prompted the shift from Happy is the New Healthy, my old blog, to this new place with a new name. "I wanted a change" would be the short answer, but I want to do things a little more justice because I made the switch for very intentional reasons. One of those reasons, and perhaps the biggest, is that I've made a decision that just like there's more to life than perfecting our bodies, there is more to it than working on our health and body image.
To explain a little more, happy is still the new healthy, but maybe it's not always about replacing one ideal of perfection with another. Maybe when we talk about loving our bodies, we need to be careful not to fall into the same traps we fell into with shaping them into physical perfection.
I am certainly an advocate for loving and appreciating our bodies, but I don't want to impose the standard of "you must love your body in this very specific way or else you're not really living" perfection any more than I want to send messages like "you are not worthy until your body is flawless."
Hating our bodies is hard. But so is hearing over and over again that we should embrace them exactly as they are--and not being able to do it. Hating that we hate them is perhaps an even saucier mind-f*ck, if you ask me. I am afraid that while we are doing lots of great things and talking about opening up the discussion of health to encompass more body types and ways of living than we might have in the past, we are creating a whole new industry that is just reinventing some of the shittiest parts of the dieting world. Look to the way marketers have capitalized on the idea of loving our bodies instead of trying to fix them if you need proof--Special K and Dove come to mind right away. Today it's not our thighs that are the problem, it's our thoughts about them. The core message is the same, and the way we make this a women's issue makes me particularly curious whether or not we are making as much progress as we'd hoped.
This is why I think it's so important to be where we are at, taking some of the power away from those darn ideas of where we should be. Just as we have realized that those ideal bodies in the magazines drive us to obsess and waste our mental energies, time, and money on the pursuit of the ideal body, loving our bodies can slip into this same zone of making ourselves wrong. If we aren't careful, our rejection of the dieting industry will be replaced with all kinds of things I see as problematic given that they send us the same old message: we are not good enough and we need to fix ourselves in order to be really living. I am reminded of Naomi Wolf's writing in The Beauty Myth:
"Female thinness and youth are not in themselves next to godliness in this culture. Society really doesn’t care about women’s appearance per se. What genuinely matters is that women remain willing to let others tell them what they can and cannot have. Women are watched, in other words, not to make sure that they will “be good,” but to make sure that they will know they are being watched."
What's different about this elusive ideal of the perfect relationship to our bodies that's offered to us in magazines, in marketing, everywhere? Wolf argued that women's energies were being taken up with the pursuit of the beauty ideal, and I would caution that we are getting awfully busy taking care of our relationships to our bodies--which are, for women, assumed to be in need of fixing.
Whether it's our physical forms or our body image or our careers, I stand behind the idea of taking care of ourselves. I think we should put effort into self improvement. But there is no such thing as a perfect life beyond the one we decide we want for ourselves.
So that is all part of the switch to this site. Coaching helps us get to the point where we define what we want for ourselves. It helps us clarify our values, so we don't take things at face value when we are bombarded with them. It gives us questions that we know the answers to, but might not otherwise answer. It doesn't require us to be wrong or in need of fixing--just that we be willing to be present in our lives and want to make the most of them.
At some point, we have to stop worrying that we are not good enough. We have to see that we don't actually have to grow up hating our bodies, and that our life's work is not learning to love them any more than it is to perfect them. Our bodies are just bodies. They're vessels. They give us the ability to live our lives. Let's not waste those lives worrying about them, or worrying about worrying about them any more.
I hope you enjoy this website--the blogs, the resources I hope to create and share, and perhaps the services. I hope that you leave here feeling reminded of your own power and with a reminder that you are already enough, wherever you're at.