• Karen Law

My journey to body lovin'


I wrote a blog post just the other day, inspired by our upcoming Embrace screening on March 8th. I wrote it to raise awareness for the screening. You can read it at Do you love your body?

It doesn't actually tell you about my journey towards body lovin' but does share my own journey to body loathing. It was very cathartic to write and filled me with passion. This often leads people to be more adventurous with language and so I warn you. I'll be somewhat 'flowery' as you read on.

I'm not actually that sure what led me back towards body lovin'..... It was a number of things. It was partly down to growing older. I turned 50 on February 8th. You give less of a fuck as you get older, I can assure you! But please don't wait until then.

I have a preteen daughter and really don't want to see her start loathing her body. She's the main reason!!

I started wanting to show by example, so I took all the stuff I'd been exposed to over the years in the birth world and I started trying to live by example more. I didn't want to contribute to the shit she will be getting exposed to via the media and her peers. We share LOADS of stuff, us birth workers, in our online communitues and when we get together, and lots of it is about growing and learning about ourselves as women, as humans.

I don't wear makeup or do any of that beauty stuff that women hide behind anyway, although I guess there will be those who think that is lazy of me. Sorry, I ain't got time in my life for all that pretence! So my only real challenge was to stop getting rid of body hair. I am dark, and hairy, so it's obvious. I spent my teens and more loathing my hairy arms (they're not that bad, but to me they were). I had been in awe of friends who didn't shave and marvelled at their ability to give less of a fuck. At their ability to be confident in their body as it is, warts and all. I don't shave my legs or armpits anymore, mainly because men are not expected to, so why should women? Although, I'm aware that the product manufacturers are setting their sights on male grooming more. But also because I'm aware of the damage shaving does to the skin which would then be compounded by adding anti-perspirants which clog the pores. I understand the research is still inconclusive on this but I'm not taking the risk. That's just my personal set of risk aversions. So I will get a wax every now and again but not normally for anyone else's benefit. My legs maybe, because its summer and I want to wear a shorter skirt and it's actually a bit weird to feel the wind blowing through your leg hair! Or my armpits, because it's warmer and deodorants don't cope so well when I'm super busy. I admit it's not easy, going against the expectations of society... but in reality, most people are too busy getting on with their lives to be giving me the once over and judging how hairy I am. Seriously folks, think about it. Our natural state is very cleverly designed. Body hair is there for a reason, to keep us warm, to sense things, to keep particles out of our nose, to hold our individual pheromones which attract a mate, and so much more...

In the past I've tried to engage with others online on the 'fashion' for body hair removal. We have been told by marketing companies that we need to do it and then the porn industry has compounded the fact by promoting a certain vision of the female (and male) form. With the advent of the internet and easier access to soft porn online our youths are growing up with this expectation. I am not sure I like the idea that grown women are expected to look prepubescent. Many have bought into this idea and get very defensive when it is discussed. I think that needs to be a whole other blog post, don't you?

Back to my journey to body lovin'.

My work as a massage therapist has really helped. I see all sorts of bodies and they're amazing.

I use the NO HANDS Massage approach to body work, and during the consultation I will ask my clients to focus on what they want to feel like, not what they don't want to feel like after their massage. Because whatever you focus on, whether you DO want it or you DON'T want it, that's what you attract. For example, I stopped biting my nails (a long time nervous habit) only once I was able to focus on having clean, unbitten nails. It certainly didn't happen while I was trying to stop biting my nails... Anyway, within NO HANDS Massage we wear sleeveless vest tops because we use our arms a lot. So I've been forced to show up and Embrace my skinny arms. They have got flabbier as I've aged. Since having children my metabolism had changed and I do have body fat where I'd prefer it not to be, if I am honest. However, my arms work. They allow me to 'work my magic' on my clients and the clients really don't care what size my limbs are. All they know is that they feel the massage and release oxytocin, endorphins, dopamine..... You see, I don't do that much. My body is just a vehicle. I do the massage and the client releases whatever they no longer need that day, and their brain releases those wonderful hormones.

Being a body worker has enabled me to appreciate bodies as "vehicles for dreams" (Body Image Movement) and being a birth worker has enabled me to learn more about the psychology of human beings, and visa versa. I love how the different hats I wear are connected. Birth and life, it's all part of the same continuum. And oxytocin.... I haven't even really started talking about oxytocin! It connects all elements of my work, my passion. When we release that fabulous hormone we feel good about ourselves. Again, another blog post to come.

I think for me its been more of an evolution, a journey, a slow realisation, with a huge dollop of regret at everything I missed out on in my teens, twenties and thirties because of body loathing.... It's such a waste....

My body is what enables ME to share with the world the things I feel, understand, know, believe, learn. Without it I can't pass any of that on. It IS just a vehicle.

When I die what makes me ME will depart from my body and if people look at it they will see that what makes me ME is no longer there, so why the fuck are we obsessing about our bodies?

WE are the intangible spirit that should be able to glow from within. It should shine out in our smile and our radiant eyes, in our laugh, our voice, in our movement. THAT'S where our beauty lies. Not in the physical vehicle.

So, get ready for an amazing drive. Use your vehicle to enjoy being YOU!

Please comment on how you plan on being you, without letting your vehicle constrain you :-)

#bodylovin #me #shaving

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