Vulnerability: Body Love
I am a body positive counselor. When I explain this to people, they usually react in one of a few ways:
1. With bewilderment: wondering what it means and how it shows up in my work with clients.
2. With anger/incredulity/patronizing words: saying I can't be "positive" about all bodies as a counselor, I can't condone "unhealthy behavior" as a health advocate, etc, etc (read: all kinds of body-shaming, fat-phobic, oppressive stuff).
3. Rarely, with understanding and excitement: finding the rare health professional, or friend/acquaintance/colleague, who won't say that the answer to every unhappiness is "lose weight".
But, I am fiercely body positive. I am passionate about this part of my work. People have different bodies for different reasons. Sometimes because of genetics, sometimes because of disabilities or illness, sometimes for protection, or comfort, or a desire to be radically themselves.
Sometimes, people are unhappy with their body. Most of the time, people are unhappy with their body. From the cradle to the grave, we are fed the message that our bodies should look a certain way, move a certain way, feel a certain way, and most of this is because we are being sold something to fix what is "wrong".
What if, as a therapist, I helped my clients fight against the never-ending barrage of messages that they aren't good enough? What if I helped them battle the voices from outside, and even more often from within, telling them they need to change? What if I helped them to love themselves just as they are, right now? I think that is much more radical and change-producing and happy-making than helping them try to mold themselves into what society tells them to be (which is ever-changing and practically unattainable).
I've been a fan of Mary Lambert and her radical body-loving ways since I heard her first Body Love spoken word performance. She is an amazing example of being vulnerable-- talking about her struggles, sharing her experience with others. It helps the people who listen to her songs and spoken word to find just a little more love for themselves. When we share our pain, our struggles, our sadness, and our triumphs, it connects us with others. When we connect with others, we know we are not alone.
That is some of the best medicine I have ever known.