These Eyes —
Today is Love Your Body Day, a day to celebrate the beauty inherent in all human bodies, regardless of size, shape, color, disability or whatever “flaws” you see in yourself.
Your body does so much for you without so much as a thank you. More often, it is subjected to self-hatred and some minor forms of asceticism to either correct the “problem” or else punish yourself for not being “perfect.”
All of these words (flaws, problem, perfect) are arbitrary values attributed randomly throughout the culture. While one woman may prefer having a smaller chest, another may despise her petite frame. While one man may be at peace with his disability, another may see his physical impairment as a curse.
This is the kind of self-dissatisfaction that fuels, and reinforces, the multi-billion dollar Beauty Industry. The media spends countless hours glorifying the Thin, White Ideal, leaving those outside the industry standard to question their value, their function, and their beauty.
Today, we call into question everything that we have ever thought or said about our bodies.
Today, we take another look at ourselves and ask why we should feel bad about those unique features that genetics and fate have endowed.
Today, we examine the messages we hear from television, film, magazines and society in general, and wonder who decides what is and is not “beautiful.”
Today, we begin a journey of self-acceptance, beginning with those features that we most despise in ourselves.
When you think of the one thing you would want to change most, ask yourself why. Why change what has been given to me? Why am I so bothered by it? Why does everyone sees themselves through a harsher lens? Why not accept that I may not have the body I would create for myself, but that mine is a good body that serves me well? Why not learn to see those features as much an irreducible part of me as all of the features that I do like? Why not embrace myself, warts and all, and focus on true happiness and satisfaction?
Many people celebrate Love Your Body Day by talking about the things they already love about their bodies. Today, I want to challenge you to defend those parts of your body that you most frequently attack.
I will start: I hate my eyes. I have squinty eyes. Especially when I smile.
I hate my squinty eyes.
However, I inherited these squinty eyes from my 94-year-old Grandma Kate. On her, I love these squinty eyes, especially when she smiles.
No, these aren’t the eyes I would pick for myself were it possible to design my own body. But these eyes were handed down from generation to generation, and who am I to question the wisdom of genetic endowment?
These eyes will be the only thing that remains of Grandma Kate, when she is gone. In fact, these eyes are the one thing I can be certain have been a part of our family for hundreds, or even thousands, of years.
Human nature is to be self-critical, and modern media encourages us to direct that self-criticism toward face-swapping fantasies, which is why I frequently look at my eyes and wish I had been blessed with “better” eyes. But even if I were to design my perfect body, once I inhabit that new body, I would set to work right away picking it apart again.
Instead, I will put my foot down and say to myself that these eyes are mine; these eyes are wonderful; these eyes are beautiful. These eyes speak for me when words will not suffice, and I love these eyes because without them I would not be myself. Without these eyes, I am less of me.
What about you? When you look in the mirror, what do you see? What have you loathed in the past? Maybe even this morning? What beauty can you see in those features that you fret over? What pride can you take in having your unique constellation of attributes?
Question yourself relentlessly and ask difficult questions that may have no answers. But do not accept that it is normal to be critical of your body. Common is not the same as normal. Strive to rise above normal and find the beauty and value in all that you are and in all that you are not.