Monday, December 2, 2013

Parts is Parts

The long Thanksgiving weekend is over.  You're tired.  You're a little cranky about going back to work.  You may be a little grateful to have family all gone home.  And your pants are a little tight.  Oh, hell.  Who are you kidding?  You've nearly given birth to a food baby.

But your heart is full.

Most people spend a little time on Thanksgiving thinking about what they are grateful for.  After all, that is the essence of the holiday.  A lot of people these days go above and beyond that and spend the entire month of November being grateful with a new entry for thankfulness every day.  I think it's a fantastic trend that really has no down side.  But what happens after Thanksgiving?

Before the turkey carcass is even cold we are bombarded with messages that we don't have enough.  That we aren't giving enough.  That we can't rest until we take advantage of the biggest sale prices of the year.  These messages will continue right up until Christmas day, driving that frantic holiday timeline ticking down like a doomsday clock.  How many times have you already heard that our holiday shopping season is shortened more than usual this year?

I'm not a total scrooge.  I want to have a nice Christmas, too.  I love seeing the looks on my children's faces when they open their gifts.  I'll just do my shopping from the comfort of my own home and avoid the crazy out there.  And pants.  I'll avoid pants as well.  Which is just as well.  See: Food Baby.

The entire holiday season is supposed to be filled with joy and good-will but nine times out of ten I see my friends exhausted with the pace of it all, stress levels at an all time high.  We are told to be grateful for what we have for an entire month while we scour the ads for the best price per pound on turkey.  Then we are told we aren't enough for another 4 weeks.  Black Friday?  That sounds festive. Sale Sale Sale.  Buy Buy Buy. Shop Shop Shop.  By the time it's over we are tired, cranky (again) and most likely broke.  We are ripe for being picked off one by one in the next media battle.

Here the best (read: worst) part of the season starts.  Now we are told we are too much.  Can you believe the nerve of all our excess? After being instructed to consume in every way possible we are told we have gone too far and we have to change.  After all - 2014 is your year, right?  Time to get skinny.  Time to be better.

December 26th you will see the entire diet and industry machine roll out and begin to bombard you with reminders of all your inadequacies.  We see headless people everywhere with zoomed in bloated, muffin tops and plumber's cracks at every turn.  You have to change.  You should be ashamed.  Don't let another year go by.  Join now.  Save now.  Buy now.  Starve now.  And maybe, just maybe, you'll be good enough again.  Maybe. (But not really - that's not profitable for the machine.) Until it starts all over.

Goals are not the problem, not if they are reasonable and responsible.  There's nothing wrong with wanting to better yourself.  There is absolutely no down side to wanting to become healthier and stronger and happier.  But if you think for one second that this industry as a whole cares about you more than the power of the almighty dollar, you are fooling yourself.  There really isn't a lot of money to be made when it comes to body acceptance.  At least not until we demand something different.

Last year at this time I decided to publicly challenge myself with a month of body gratitude.  How would entering the season of New Year's Resolutions feel if I had already spent time being grateful and accepting of all of me, even the parts that were harder for me to love?  The result, which I wrote about, was not that it made me skinnier in 2013.  Sorry to disappoint you. But I've been skinnier and I can tell you without a single doubt in my mind that it didn't make me happier or love myself more.  No, what I got out of this challenge last year was appreciation for this gift of a body I have.  I completely changed my internal dialogue by focusing on the beauty I could see rather than the flaws.  Changing the way I think, removing that desperate feeling of "Oh my God, I have to lose weight NOW" and just appreciating where I was right that moment was life changing.  At least for me.

I've had a few requests to start this Body Gratitude Challenge again and I will be doing so starting today on my Facebook page.  I double dog dare you to try and come up with a new body part to be grateful for and accepting of every single day for 30 days so that you can start your New Year with a mindset of love and thankfulness for what you have rather than the feeling of inadequacy and imperfection that is shoved down your throat by an industry that actually benefits more from your failure than your success.  From your fabulous teeth and gorgeous hair to your too long toes and your dimply thighs - I want to hear about the easy parts and the more difficult parts to love. And I'm quite certain you DO have a winning personality and a breathtakingly sharp wit *cough* but that's not what I'm talking about here.  I want body parts and I want them all.  I know you're fabulous on the inside.  I want you to believe you are fabulous on the outside, too.

The only rule I have in the entire challenge is that you have to be positive.  No back-handed compliments to yourself.  No passive aggressive bullshit.  No self-deprecating nonsense.  If you think I won't call you out on it if I see it you are mistaken, my friend.  Do you even know me? Self-deprecation was almost a second language to me and I'll spot it every time.  You can't bullshit a bullshitter.

Join me on my Facebook page on my daily post if you'd like or start your own Body Gratitude on your own wall. Just promise me you'll go into 2014 with love for what you already have so that you can make loving, responsible choices for your health and your body rather than being motivated by shame and imperfection.  Shame doesn't motivate anyone.  But love does.  And so does acceptance.

You are so much more than all your parts, it's true.  And this may seem like a self-centered challenge to some.  But I promise you that only good can come from being grateful for the body you are in right now.  When you celebrate each and every part, even the ones you deem your "trouble spots", you lift up your entire being to a whole other level.  You are wonderfully made.  Join me in celebrating that.

"The whole is greater than the sum of its parts." - Aristotle

But you have some pretty fucking good parts.  I promise.