What will be your story now
today its something far inside
hurts your body close your eyes
and i’ll bring you back to here
you are my own sinking ship
Cause everyday the current shifts
- Good Ole War, My Sinking Ship
Sometimes I can’t find the words to describe my inner rants when I read about body image in the media. Reminding me of “self esteem”, “body image” has become so watered down that it’s truest definition is miles from it’s overused meaning. Body image is not something you can wake up and change one morning because you have decided to either “accept” your body or “change” your body. To alter your body image you would have to go far back in time, as if this were possible, and expunge the ways your primary care giver held you, touched you, gazed at you, fed you, soothed you, spoke to you, looked squarely at you or did none of these things at all. At best, your primary caregiver, and mine, was the good enough mirror to each of our twitches, cries, moans, gazes, smiles, frowns, and hungers. I write this because the development of body image parallels the sensorimotor development in our infant stage and our kinesthetic and tactile experiences are the first perceptions of our bodies, and, not surprisingly, the mouth is the principal area of pleasurable sensations. As our physical needs are met during infancy, we feel comforted and satisfied with our bodies. Messages conveyed by the caregivers reinforce these feelings. But what happens when our physical needs are not met completely and emptiness surfaces in our infant mind and or the messages directed toward our tiny selves deepen feelings of aloneness and fear?
Our body images are much more complex than a simple comparison to an advertisement in a magazine. However, I would assume that if I were to have already suffered early on from disfigured feelings about my body, I would be susceptible to readily compare myself to the ultimate ideals and quickly believe I do not measure up. It might not even be a conscious thought or develop into a disordered eating. I may just live thinking less about myself no matter who or what is around me.
How would I overcome this reduced idea about my body image should I attempt such a feat? Finding my words. I repeatedly bring this idea to the forefront of my postings because, in the words of Myra Shapiro, a poet and author, I too believe, “ Words hold the past, and we give them new strength, a new shape, by what we choose to remember, and the way we use them. We can redeem the past and how we live with it. A re-mattering.”
Simple. Words Matter. I end this post with the Velveteen Rabbit’s wisdom:
“You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”