We are told, more often than not, what relationships to have with our bodies, rather than to explore our own relationships with our bodies.
This for me, is an issue. Partly just because I don’t like to do what I’m told.
We are taught to hate certain body parts or ways of being, we are told to be proud of some rare things, but often we learn to be ashamed of anything representative of pleasure or desire. And we are told to be proud of the things that are... most standardised. We are told we have certain flaws, or strengths, weak points and problem areas, we are taught to have some few favourite body parts, and we talk about beauty, but really - all this is generally interpreted through the language of desirability.
But you don’t owe it to anyone to be desirable, to look the way you think they want you to look. You may want to be desirable, that’s fine – but unlike Cat from Red Dwarf, you weren’t put on this earth to provide pleasure to other people via your appearance. It’s not your job to be desirable. Unless it is, in which case – you still get to call the shots. And rather than pander to some vague, standardised ideal, you can instead celebrate your true self and unique hotness however you damn well please.
There’s a difference between criticism and judgement.
Rather than developing a critical awareness of training programs and practices, we are taught to pass judgement on our own body and will, to view our body with contempt, to regard ourselves as undisciplined, and to view weakness through a moral lens. Of course, weakness is only the counterpart to strength, a vague concept in a continuum that burdens us all, for one may be weak or strong in any number of areas. We are unique, damnit.
And strength training makes us weak, in an immediate sense. Why feel like a failure when you exhaust yourself, or fail at a lift? Are we not told the point of going to the gym is precisely to exhaust ourselves? You are a success!
Anyway, fuckitall. Training is not about judgement, it’s about development, and to this end both an open and critical mindset is useful, whereas a judgmental one is not.
You can, instead, build a relationship with yourself based on trust and understanding. It’s hard, because you feel like you have to go in and fight prevailing cultural trends all on your own, but it can be done. You can build a relationship with yourself that is based on compassion, care and respect, and in time you may grow your wisdom and patience. You can take a step back, regard our shared humanity, and decide for yourself how you want to participate.
Or at the very least, you can build the relationship you want with yourself. Doesn’t need to be the one I’m promoting. And you don’t need to buy what they’re selling.