I am fed up with the obsession most people seem to have about the human body. I am fed up with seeing ads all over my TV, my facebook page and everywhere else I look advertising various diets, “skinny” recipes and the “secret,” that will make me thin. I am equally frustrated by the well-meaning, counter ads, telling us that must love our bodies and be proud of them because we are all so beautiful.
I’d like to propose something different. How about we all stop giving our bodies so much damn credit? My body is only one thing; it is a vessel in which I move through life. It is, in fact, very much like my wheelchair. It serves a purpose. When it is broken, I have to fix it; I have to do what I can to make sure it is working properly and that I am not causing it any undue damage. That is my only responsibility to it.
My wheelchair is not a defining factor in who I am. When people meet me they notice it, but they are not obsessing over the fact that it is orange instead of black, or that it is smaller or bigger than the one they saw last week, or weather in has metal spokes or plastic ones. Once people get to know me they don’t notice it at all.
No one tells me how to feel about my wheelchair. No one tells me that it could be sexier or sleeker or that the girl I work with has a better chair because it isn’t old and the paint isn’t chipped. No one tells me to love my chair. They don’t tell me that my chair is beautiful because it is mine, and that my chair is worthy of love and affection.
My chair does not determine whether I am a good person. It does not define who I am; and although it may determine how some people see me, that’s not my problem, it’s theirs.
The same can be said about my body. It is nothing but a vessel for my soul, or my energy, or my brain, or whatever makes me me. It needs to be kept healthy and functioning at its best so that I can navigate the world as long as possible. But unlike my wheelchair, my body cannot be replaced. I will respect it, but beyond that I owe it nothing. It deserves neither love nor hate, and no one but me and my doctor has the right to tell me what to do with it.
I wish the world would start putting more emphasis on being a good person than having a good set of abs. Instead of teaching children to love their bodies, why don’t we teach them to love one another? Show them how to be good human beings, teach them to give to others, to think about others and be proud of what they leave behind when they die. After all, when we are gone, it is not our bodies that our loved ones are going to remember. They won’t care if we were a size 6 or a 16. They will remember the way we treated others, the jokes we told, and the way we made them feel.
None of us are going to live forever, and being old is a blessing. The secret of eternal beauty is not in a bottle or a tube, it is not the result of a fad diet or an exercise regimen. It is in our actions, it’s in who we love, how we love them and the memories we leave behind.