So in the baggage category... there is probably stuff to throw out and stuff to keep when it comes to the messages we received growing up about our bodies. In the religious tradition I was raised in, the body was seen as a gift from deity... something to be grateful for... something to take care of... something to help experience life to its fullest. It was also talked about through the context of it having "appetites" that should be controlled - even feared (aka... your body is sexual but nobody wants to say that directly). I had friends who grew up with religious messages that left their bodies a result of human sin... due to Eve's proclivities, the mortal body being in a perpetual "fallen state."
The bigger messages however, came from the media. I got a very clear idea from a very early age that in order to be considered "attractive," "desirable," "sexy," "hot," or any other myriad of descriptors that would deem me "enough," I had to have a certain body type and present that body in an appealing way. This body type as a woman was primarily white, a size 2, petite (unless long and slender), groomed (i.e. sans body hair), able bodied, young and presented in the elusive space between "homely" and "slutty" (not that there is anything wrong with being a size 2, white female - just saying there is a lot more variety than this one presentation...). For men it had a lot to do with six-packs, muscles and depending on the decade, may or may not have included an option for facial hair to be considered sexy.
The stark reality is that most of us did not fit these ideals that were constantly thrown at us by movies, music videos, magazines, travel brochures, beer commercials, and any other sort of advertising available. Even if other body types were included, they were not presented as legitimately sexy (i.e. every now and then you get a sex scene with older adults or overweight people, but usually in the context of comedy).
So how can we take a few steps towards healthier body regard?
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