I was recently at the grocery store with my hubby on a Sunday afternoon for our usual weekly routine: picking up almost everything we need for the week, and then conveniently forgetting the most important thing we need for later that night.
As we looked across the check-out aisles to see which one seemed shortest but would turn out to be longest (another skill of ours), a bright magazine caught my eye with the line “MY NEW BODY” standing out in bold relief.
What’s Up, Trisha?
It turns out the magazine was People, and the person on the cover was Trisha Yearwood. Now, I haven’t really thought of Trisha since I spent a lot of time being driven around by my mom, listening to her favorite country music (in other words: before I turned 16 and got to mostly drive myself around).
But next I got to see Trisha herself, because right next to her bold pronouncement was a magazine high photo of her, in a bright dress, looking extremely happy.
At first, I could only assume the photographer was holding a puppy up while taking her picture.
But when I got closer, I realized what was really going on. The rest of the magazine cover was full of info about her quick weight loss (because that always lasts, right? Oh wait — nope. 95% of diets fail), “sad” pictures of her pre-weight-loss, and teasers for the desperate rest of us who also want to lose weight like she did — “the fun way” (after 20+ years & 65 diets, I can say with authority that I never found a “fun way”).
As I took all this in, while also navigating my way to the aforementioned slowest checkout line ever, I started to get irritated.
And then I got pissed off.
New body? Really?!
Trisha doesn’t have a new body. She has the same body she’s always had, and the same body she always will have.
And guess what? So do I.
And so do you.
And so does everyone else.
Last I checked, neither science nor plastic surgery has yet replaced an entire human body. So here we are — basically the same us as yesterday (except for the new hair and skin cells and whatnot, but I’m pretty sure that’s not what People had in mind by putting Trisha on the cover).
Bill of Goods
The idea of a “new body” is a myth we’re sold. Plain and simple. It could never be anything but that because we all logically know we’re never getting a new body — that even if our body changes, in any way (which of course it constantly does), it’s not new.
Losing weight doesn’t make your body new. Neither does gaining weight. Neither does gaining muscle. Neither does having an injury. Neither does having an illness. Neither does dying your hair. Neither does plastic surgery. Neither does having a baby. Neither does breaking a bone.
Some of these things may make your body feel different, but feeling, looking or even functioning differently does not a new body make.
This is as true for Trisha Yearwood as it is for me. Trisha’s body isn’t new — it’s just different (for the time being) in a culturally approved way.
We’re all still us — for better or worse. Because the other side of this “new body” coin is that it presupposes that new = better. Not only does this insult your “previous” body, it also implies that all change is for the “better,” so that when we have something “new” about our bodies we don’t like, we’re doubly hard on ourselves.
Why Oh Why
Because sometimes, the idea that you’re stuck with your same body no matter what really sucks. Why? Because remember how I said we’re sold the idea that we can get a new body? Well, when we don’t get it, we don’t usually blame the people who sold us a bill of goods.
Instead, we blame ourselves.
In very few other circumstances would we blame ourselves for not being able to do the impossible that someone else tried to tell us was possible (and probably charged us lots of money for). We’d blame that person for pulling the wool over our eyes.
But when it comes to our bodies, we’re sensitive. We want to believe we can get a new body. Sometimes we even want to believe it desperately.
So instead of calling a spade a spade, we keep trying for that new body. And then we keep beating ourselves up when we don’t get it. Or celebrating ourselves when we think we do — only to hate ourselves even more when the weight comes back, or we get injured and can’t run every day, or life gets busy and we get tired of pushing ourselves so hard, or we get sick/get in a car accident/or otherwise have our bodies change due to circumstances beyond our control.
The Good News
So here’s the good news about the fact (yep, FACT) that you’re never getting a new body: you don’t need one.
And lest you think I’m cracked at this point and think I’ve never wanted a new body, let me set the record straight. I’ve wanted a new body, all right. I’ve longed for one. I’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars and years (decades!) of my life “working” for one. I’ve wasted time I could have spent with friends, not let myself enjoy truly joyful moments of my life because I thought I didn’t look good enough, and blamed everyone this side of the equator for me not being able to get a new body — directing the bulk of that blame towards myself.
And this hasn’t only been about weight. Because during years of terrible migraines, I’ve also wanted a new, pain-free body — one that never gets sick or otherwise “lets me down.”
But here’s the truth — for me, you and Trisha — no matter your body’s shape, size, age or ability, it’s yours. And that means it’s with you for the long haul — an ever-present reminder that the only thing any of us can ever really learn is how to accept and love the one body we have.
Because even though it will change in various ways over time, nothing and no one is with us more than our one, never new body. It shows up more for us than anyone or anything ever will, even when we’re not happy with it, even when we wish it was different, even when we talk poorly about it and to it.
You’re never getting a new body (and neither am I). And that’s the good news.