I saw this post from Adweek in Facebook this morning, which totally got me all twisted up. "Lane Bryant Bashes Victoria Secret with 'I'm No Angel' Campaign". I love Victoria Secret angels- I do their workouts so I know how hard those girls work. I also know how well they take care of their bodies by what they eat, what they put on their skin, how well-informed they are about nutrition.
So I wondered, when I saw this, if someone was trying to pass a moral judgement on people who want beautifully toned bodies, who go to the gym and eat well in order to get them. But then I realized, no, Lane Bryant is trying to sell underwear.
These girls have great aesthetics going on, so whatever, but oh my god, are we missing the point here. This is 2015 and the body-image conversation is still for the most part in the dark ages.
Craving a VC Angel body isn't healthy, but neither is cynicism towards one, a form of aversion. In Buddhism, the two greatest causes of human suffering are craving and aversion, so let's move past the useless "love your body" rhetoric to something more useful. Does anyone know what "loving your body" means anyway? Are you supposed to have warm feelings toward it? Conjure up affection for it? Pet it? Give it treats when it's good?
Pop body image rhetoric gets one thing right- that being at home in our bodies is true freedom- Maya Angelou said, "I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself." Gurdjieff told his students repeatedly to "Stay with yourself, stay with yourself." Absent-minded or emotional eating, or lazy meal prep is a manifestation of having left oneself- having dissappeared into the worries, fantasies, memories, and other thinking, emotional, and instinctual patterns ever arising from the ego structure. When you're tuned into your body's needs- honoring it by listening when it's full and feeding it nutrutious balanced meals when it's hungry, you're "really seeing it", and in mindfulness, to see yourself with the inner eye and stay with the discomfort that arises when something difficult comes up is to love. See, stay, notice. Love and sexiness is what is revealed when our defenses have been "noticed away."
This is a lifelong journey, not a quick fix. But the result is we get to come home to ourselves and radiate from within. That's sexy.