People Who Get It, No. 1: Glennon Doyle

The cover of Untamed by Glennon Doyle
What I’m reading . . .

I had a feeling this book would fall exactly in line with what I’m trying to do with my business. There have been SO MANY things I’ve wanted to underline! Alas, I checked it out from the library, so I’ll just have to buy it when I’m done. But yeah. Glennon Doyle gets what wholeness and social expectations (as she puts it, “indoctrination”) is all about, and I’m only 73 pages in. It’s truly an astonishing book that I want everyone to read. At least so far.

I’ll be reading big chunks of it this weekend, so I’ll update you when I’m done!

Rethink Your Mirror or Smash It Like the Patriarchy?

There are three mirrors in my home: two framed by medicine cabinets and one full-length on the back of a bathroom door. I infrequently look in the full-length, but my therapist suggested I needed to do it more as a form of practicing body acceptance.

Yet I want to smash all mirrors (aside from being superstitious). They just create worry for problems with my body I didn’t know were problems until someone told me they were.

So, I ask you: Do we need to rethink our relationships with mirrors? Instead of thinking of them as gateways to what others see, how do we make them tools to appreciate what we see?

Does a Mirror Control You?

“Diet culture keeps women fighting the mirror instead of facing the world.” – Happy Healthy Hans

Social expectations for women’s bodies is a form of social control designed to keep women from focusing on their true power. Agree or disagree?

(By the way, when I searched for images to use for this, I used the built-in tool for stock images and searched “mirror.” Every image I saw was of a woman. What’s that tell you?)

How Your Body Suffers Injustices

While our society can make recommendations for what is supposedly best for our bodies, we still have bodily autonomy. We still get to decide what “best” truly means. This, however, is where the injustices come in.

Where Body Injustice Shows Up

CW: Violence, assault, sexual abuse, bodily harm, death

Think back to those large social structures like government, law enforcement, and health care.

Politicians make laws telling us what we can and cannot do with our bodies, and courts frequently strike those down. Sometimes, political decisions lead to human rights violations like forced sterilizations. And sometimes, the medical industry itself does not provide informed consent and uses human bodies as experiments.

And we’d like to think this isn’t happening close to home (I’m speaking to my fellow Iowans here), but it does.

Moreover, medicine is not advanced enough to cope with one fact: All bodies are different. The history of medical care is founded upon the White male body as the default. Not only is that inaccurate, it costs people their health, time, money, and lives. That is injustice.

That’s not even all of it. I haven’t even talked about these industries: food, beauty, fashion, technology, fitness, finance, environment, and more. Most social structures have something to say about our bodies without taking into account the truth that they aren’t prepared to deal with how different our bodies are.

My Point . . .

What I want is to advocate for respecting the differences between informed recommendations, generalized suggestions, and force. Thanks to social power, it’s understandable to want to influence behavior for the sake of a healthier populace. We want folks to stop smoking, to stop drinking to excess, and to avoid anything that creates harm. However, we may not always understand what is best for a person especially when our knowledge on what creates harm is still evolving. After all, medicinal marijuana is almost mainstream while some politicians are fearmongering against it (and mind you, I’m not even that interested in weed in any sense, but come on).

Body justice allows room for bodies to be different, to be respected, and to be honored. It allows us to look at our bodies with compassion rather than social expectations thrust upon us. Instead of certain body types being the default of what’s considered healthy, large social structures can adapt to the realities that some bodies need what others don’t. Body justice changes how we see food, exercise, reproductive rights, disabilities, trans rights, sexuality, and mental health. And maybe we could be less stuck on models that simply do not work like dieting, gender binaries, and outdated laws.

In short, tons of industries are making billions on what they tell us our bodies need without knowing anything about who we are, our genetic make up, or our desires. Instead of tailoring to us, they try to manipulate our desires to fit what they’re selling. I’m saying, “That’s enough.”

What Is Body Justice?

I’m taking this week to talk about my business pivot into body justice, so it’s a little less formal and more writing to think out loud content. That said, I would LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE your feedback on this!

Body Justice

Social justice is a massive topic, and I knew going into it that it was too big a scope for my business. But I wasn’t sure what part of social justice was right for me. I want to leave the door open for discussing race, but I don’t want to be pigeonholed into that because too many people are quick to relegate Brown and Black folks to only talking about race. I want to be an advocate for people with disabilities, but I’m not qualified to teach others on it, and I don’t think it’s my place or story to tell. I have a lot to say about religion, education, politics, and economics and how they influence social expectations, but obviously, there’s a lot there.

What I noticed was a consistent interest in bodies for me. I don’t like how religion drives social demands over our bodies. I loathe how politicians think they have any right to supersede our relationships with our physicians, and I hate how physicians refuse to understand how we know our bodies better than they do. We need our bodies to work in this capitalism economy, but that doesn’t mean employers have say over our bodies even if they provide us health insurance, yet that doesn’t stop them. We have bodily autonomy, and I want to fight for reminding everyone of that.

Hence, body justice.

However . . . the biggest use of body justice I’ve seen so far is, of course, diet culture-loving fitness junkies. So, I’m taking it for my uses.

I’ll take the week to explore some ideas within body justice, so I hope you’ll join me in thinking out loud!

Exercise Is Easy and Other Lies

Exercise makes me cry. I don’t mean that in a funny way. I’m serious. It specifically makes me cry to think about my relationship with my body and the pain associated with moving. It’s the primary reason I sought out therapy.

Society: That’s just because you haven’t found the right thing for you yet!

People make working out sound so simple.

Society: Just move! Just go for a walk! Just 30 minutes a day! Just!

I used to do that. I used to run three days a week in my late 30s. People said it would get easier, that I’d experience a runner’s high. It never got easier. I never got the high. I always ended up with numb feet, and I wanted to sleep for the rest of the day.

Society: You should go see your doctor! That’s not normal!

Now, walking up and down my stairs brings me pain because my hip flexors–no matter how much I stretch–are always tight. Going up my stairs takes ten seconds. You want me to go through agony for 30 minutes a day like it’s no big deal?

Society: It’s because you don’t move enough! It’ll get better!

I’m not physically disabled as far as I know, yet the fitness industry seems to think we all have the same bodies that are capable of anything society deems normal. Mine isn’t geared for normal. Beyond that, I have deep, emotional and mental blocks about movement and my body, as evidenced by my intro.

Society: Oh, it’s not that bad! Maybe you’re too fat.

I remember hating physical education as far back as second grade. They wanted us to play basketball with all the other kids in the class. These are the same kids who wouldn’t hesitate to throw a ball at me because they thought it was funny. I wasn’t coordinated (I’m still not), and catching a ball caused a sudden rise of anxiety. I wasn’t athletic. I’ve never been athletic. Both of my parents were active in their younger years, and my dad still is, so I don’t know what happened to me. It always feels like a shortcoming. It always feels like a failure.

Society: Are you sure you aren’t just lazy?

So, this week, I’m going to explore body movement, exercise, working out, and some of the myths surrounding it. Because I’m tired of being treated as broken all because my body doesn’t operate the way our fatphobic society thinks it should.

Society: Geez, you’re full of excuses, aren’t you?

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