The Role of Community in Reclaiming Body Sovereignty

Often the journey to reclaim Body Sovereignty, the healing of body shame and claiming our space in the word, is a solitary one. We do important inner work by learning to practice self compassion, mindfulness, and discernment. We become more aware of and appreciate the functional aspects of our body, how it contributes to our life through movement, both with day to day practical tasks and also with more recreational or artistic expressions of the body. Our eyes see, our hands touch, our body gets us through the day and we are thankful for the miracle. We begin to appreciate body diversity and see beauty in all shapes and sizes. As we begin to understand we do not have the control over our bodies we’ve been told we should have, our motivations for self care shift from changing the way we look to changing the way we feel.

However, no woman is an island. No matter what amount of work we do by healing our relationship with our body, no matter how much of a body-positive safe sanctuary we create in our inner world, we need more that just our inner work. We need positive connection with others. To help us keep going, we need spaces to be with people who are approaching wellness in similar ways. Community and connection helps us to stay inspired and motivated and to let go of tying our self worth to an unattainable body shape. Body positive community is also vital in providing us opportunity to shift our cultural narrative of body competition and comparison. When we can be in body positive spaces with others, we are invited to let go the fears that keep us convinced we must tear others down to build ourselves up.

In my life, I look for opportunities to be in body positive community wherever I can. When I meet new people I purposely bring up my body-positive ways to invite further conversation. One time, after doing so, I had a co-worker set me up on a coffee with a friend of hers because she new we both had a passion about body positivity and fat activism. I was delighted! When I lived in Saskatoon and found the Saskatoon Weight Attitudes and Disordered Eating Committee, I was so happy to find more of my tribe. My positive experiences both with SWADE and the Nourish Committee emboldened me to be proactive in creating body positive community in my new community of Kitchener and I’ve facilitated space for local practitioners who follow a Health at Every Size® (HAES) approach to come together.

That is why I’m so excited for a local screening of the Embrace documentary here in Kitchener on April 25th. What a wonderful opportunity to come together with others who also believe there is another, more affirming way to be in relationship with our body! If you live in the Kitchener Waterloo area, I hope you will join us. If you live elsewhere,  check out this site for more information on communities that are hosting a screening.

I put together this short video to share some of my thoughts about this screening:


I invite you to consider what spaces have you found for body positive community? Online? Face to face? If you haven’t found any that suit you, are there perhaps ways you can create the community you need? Perhaps arrange a regular coffee date with a friend or two who are also embracing body positivity? Or organize an informal Health at Every Size lunch and learn at work? Maybe you can attend a conference or workshop about body image? No doubt, there can be pitfalls. You may find the ‘positive body image’ workshop ended being about a weight loss program, or maybe the friend you are having coffee with is having a hard time giving up playing the body comparison game. But, with some clear boundaries and patience your efforts will pay off and you will find it was all worth it.

 

Thank you for reading!

If you would like to stay in touch, feel free to sign up for my e-newsletter, Living Body Sovereign, which you can find here: http://eepurl.com/bBGfpz

Check out the Sovereignty Shop, where you will find my Reclaiming Body Sovereignty Workbook, Gifts of Body Sovereignty online class and more.

Also, one to one sessions are available either via webcam, or face to face if you live in or around Kitchener, Ontario. Find more information here: http://www.sydneybell.ca/work-with-me/book-a-session-with-me/

 

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