I received a message this week from a woman who has recently gained weight for the first time in her life, and is no longer comfortable in her body. She said a lot of things including, “why do you want women to be uncomfortable?” She meant physically uncomfortable with their bellies or such, with the amount of space they take up and how it may restrict movement or comfort in chairs or yoga positions or such.
It sucks to be uncomfortable in your body. I don’t want to downplay that. But any significant body change requires adjustment, and part of that is to become comfortable with the change.
There are two kinds of comfortable- physically comfortable and emotionally comfortable. I posit it is hard to be comfortable one way without being comfortable both ways. If you’re constantly worried about X body part, you can be hyper-aware of it, leading to a sense of physical discomfort.
But being fat in and of itself is not necessarily physically uncomfortable. My neck can get very uncomfortable. I used to think my neck was uncomfortable and I couldn’t bend it very far because it was so terribly fat (emotional discomfort). Turns out, my neck is often uncomfortable because the muscles get very very tight, and I can’t bend it very far because I’m pulled unreasonably tight half the time. I can practically look behind myself after a good massage, no weight loss needed. And as you can see, I can go further than touching my toes (I do the glamorous things, just for you all!). I am comfortable in my body.
Yours Truly, legs straight, hands on the floor. Skirts are difficult, y’all.
photo from the adipositivity project
Being comfortable may be something you need to work towards. As bodies change, needs change. And bodies pretty much always change. Weight gain or loss, age, pregnancy, illness, injury- any of these things can change the body and change comfort.
May I suggest a few things to help bolster comfort in your own body?
Move your body- Take up space, stretch, take a walk, do yoga, go swimming, swing on a swingset, dance (by yourself in your room, or take a lesson!), play sports. Use the body you have and feel its power.
Touch your body- Moisturizing and doing my own body scrubs are some of the best things I can do to get comfortable in my body, and they make my body more comfortable! Touch the parts of your body you are uncomfortable with. It may take time, but you’ll get more familiar with your own body. Solo sex is a great way to get comfortable with your own body.
Have someone else touch your body- Get a massage. Hug a friend. Curl up with loved ones. Notice that they are just fine with your body. Sex with a partner also helps!
Examine cultural messages- Notice where you are getting messages that your body (or part of your body) is a problem. Is it a commercial? A magazine? A store?
Surround yourself with better messages- check out the writers and artists I’ve featured on the Brilliant People page, especially Marilyn Wann’s Yay Scale and Substantia Jones’ Adipositivity project (NSFW).
How do you get comfortable in your body?
flexibility and physical endurance aren’t necessarily markers of being comfortable in your own body, but they can be ↩