How I learned to shift focus away from the 'ideal' body image

It starts when we are children. We look around at the world and begin to see ourselves as individuals, separate from everyone else. As a teacher, I see this in the classroom every day when children call on each other about how different they are. Sometimes they are saying it as a positive experience, other times they are trying to get a rise out of their target by tinting it with judgement or disdain. We are constantly trying to find comfort for ourselves by putting judgements out towards others, to see what they think or how they view us. How do we grow up and stand within ourselves, accepting who we are, where we come from, and where we are going?


There has always been an image out there in society for people to grasp at as an ideal. This image has changed a bit throughout evolution but now for a long time it has moved around the physical quality of "skinny". Today, to be "skinny" as well as "fit" are popular ideals. Human beings pressure each other and themselves beneath the weight of this. Unfortunately, just like when corsets were the fashion and women wore them even to sleep just so they could achieve the "ideal" shape despite its affect on their organs, this new idea of how people "should be" is also found to be harmful to some people. Almost all of us hold some insecurities about how our physical bodies look, no matter how they look. Some people take this to extreme measures and become ill because of their insecurities.


It is up to us to remember that our body is our instrument. We create with itIt does not define who we are, but it is shaped by who we are wanting to become. If we can remember that our happiness is most important; that a balance in life is always healthy; eating enough for whatever it is you do; sleeping and resting your body and mind; doing things to nourish your own personal spiritual life; our body will begin to reflect all of this. And not only that, but when you look in the mirror or stand before another person you will have a bearing that is most beautiful of all: confident and happy.


Ideally, which I think many people know, eating healthy and getting fit should be a happy aspect of ones life, supporting your work and dreams. Back in the days when farming was a bigger part of our culture, we had fitness in the form of physical labor. Today with many of us holding office jobs and the like, we have to fight to create a space for physical activity, and especially in the digital age. If we could emphasize the activity, and lower the stress of the image, would things be different at all? I like to think about that, and wonder.


Meanwhile, I meet my students each day with as much love and patience as I can muster, and do my best to help them discover how to be together socially in the most healthful and non judgmental ways possible. If we can give each other enough space and encouragement to grow and live our dreams, endless wonders will be possible.


This is a post by PumpUp member @bodysoulspiritfitness, a teacher and movement artist with a passion for healthy living and adventure. Follow her blog here.