Like so many others, I sometimes find it difficult to look at myself in the mirror. Like so many others, I sometimes react to other people’s bodies with reluctance: why so many of them on this bus, why so tired and sweaty, why do I have to put up with them? I would like to be more body-positive but…
Whether we like it or not, we live in a society that puts a lot of stress on the aesthetic function of the body. If a body isn’t aesthetically pleasing, its owner gets cast out. On the other hand, we constantly tell each other, on the internet and other media as well as in (what we call) real life, not to objectify people’s bodies because that’s bad.
But whether we like it or not, we see bodies as objects anyway, and all this talk about objectification is just so much stupid shit. You can hardly “objectify” something that already is an object.
And we do treat other people’s bodies as objects when we look at them, interpret them, talk about them. They can be objects of our interest, reluctance, desire, disgust, affirmation, you name it. Nothing wrong about any of that!
The only thing that’s wrong is when you actually do to them things their owners haven’t agreed to. That brings to mind the libertarian view of the body as a person’s property, but I guess you could also simply call that common sense.
Still, we do take offence if someone talks about the human body as an object… Aaah…
I could also quote Schopenhauer, who was pretty straightforward in his view of the body as an object. He saw it as an object unlike any other, though; he said the body is the immediate object, meaning that it enables you to perceive other objects in the world.
You have eyes that can see; ears that can hear; skin that can feel. Basically, you have an amazing tool to make yourself a representation of the world and, if you’ll excuse my silly allusions, shape it according to your will.
Which brings me to another source of my reflections that I want to quote: Glennon Doyle Melton’s article Your Body Is Not Your Masterpiece, which, at this point, I’ll just leave the floor to…
[…] Your body is not your art, it’s your paintbrush. Whether your paintbrush is a tall paintbrush or a thin paintbrush or a stocky paintbrush or a scratched up paintbrush is completely irrelevant. What is relevant is that YOU HAVE A PAINTBRUSH which can be used to transfer your insides onto the canvas of your life — where others can see it and be inspired and comforted by it.
Your body is not your offering. It’s just a really amazing instrument which you can use to create your offering each day. Don’t curse your paintbrush. Don’t sit in a corner wishing you had a different paintbrush. You’re wasting time. You’ve got the one you got. Be grateful, because without it you’d have nothing with which to paint your life’s work. Your life’s work is the love you give and receive – and your body is the instrument you use to accept and offer love on your soul’s behalf. […]
We are encouraged to obsess over our instrument’s SHAPE – but our body’s shape has no effect on its ability to accept and offer love for us. […] The truth is that all paintbrush shapes work just fine – and anybody who tells you different is trying to sell you something. Don’t buy. Just paint. […]
What else to say? I’ll confess that it just occurred to me now, when I looked down on my hands, how much I don’t like them. It happens all the time. Maybe I should start thinking more often about how great it is to be able to type with them?
Maybe that’s what we all should do?
Have a great day,