More Than a Body: How to See More & Be More
Written by Charissa Sutliff

This intro is a close and tender part of my heart. The fitness industry and diet culture perpetuates a focus on objectifying bodies. Bodies needing to look a certain way, and all kinds of diets and products to change the way we look. 

Do you struggle with body image, body obsession, self objectification and objectification of others? Do you struggle with a running dialogue in your head worrying about what people are thinking about your body or how you look? 

I have struggled with this for years, and honestly, I am so tired of it. It is exhausting. I can’t pinpoint where the pressure or the belief that I need to look a certain way comes from. I believe it’s a mixture of words people have spoken over us, how bodies are portrayed in the media and the constant bombardment of fad diets and products we need to change ourselves to make us “happier”. 

I think lots of men and women struggle with body image in some way and that many of us are silent about it. I wonder how many of us are ashamed of it, feeling like we are alone in it and scared of sharing this struggle with others, stuck in a mental prison. 

When I consider a time in my life where I just let my body be what it was without dieting and controlling food to make it look a certain way, or working out to make it look a certain way, it was probably in 10th grade. 

At some point in high school, I believed that my body wasn’t good enough the way it was naturally and needed to restrict calories to get a smaller body. I wonder, what for and why?

Years later, competing in bodybuilding created a hyper-focus on how my body looked leading to an unhealthy relationship with food and fitness. On the outside it probably looked like I was healthy, that I had it all together, that I was disciplined but the physical and mental restriction was exhausting physically, mentally and emotionally. Eventually that level of restriction and calorie deficit lead to harm of my physical health and also cycles of binge eating. 

Have you ever been here? Exhausted of this mental battle against your body, food, even fitness? I was too and I got to the point where I didn’t want to fight my body or abuse myself anymore. It was so freeing to come to the realization that my body isn’t the enemy, that food isn’t the enemy. It was heartbreaking to realize that I was rejecting, neglecting, and treating my body so harshly. 

I began to challenge the “diet police” and the “food police”, challenge the thoughts and beliefs in my mind and any voice or noise around me that influenced any thoughts related to food, dieting, and a focus on the body. 

Here is the point in this where I ask you to slow down, even be still and bring yourself into a posture of introspection. 

Consider your orientation toward your body, what are the thoughts you say to yourself about your body? What are the attitudes you have toward your body? What are the ways you care for (or punish) your body? What is your attitude toward food, toward eating, fitness, dieting?

Consider if you ever self objectify, worrying about what people are thinking about what you look like, or what you are wearing. Consider if you ever objectify others, looking at them as an object, thinking about their bodies, their size, instead of being a human. Consider when you make comments about people’s weight, size, physique, beauty, physical attributes. Consider all the ways we make comments that are objectifying. 

Consider how much people around you – whether family or friends, media – are talking about how they look, their diets, their weight. It’s all around us and the first step to seeing more and being more is being aware of these messages that are all around us. 

Personally, I want to redirect this fight toward diet culture for all the messages that tell us we aren’t good enough, that objectify us, and also cause us to objectify others. I want to strive toward seeing how media and culture perpetuates this mentality. I want to intentionally work on seeing more in myself, seeing more in others and being more. 

Once we are aware of this, we can bring even more awareness to it. The next step is to bring intentionality in standing against it, and intentionally SEE MORE in those around us. 

“We have to be able to see more in our media and cultural messages that objectify, and distort our views of beauty, health and individual worth. Only then can we see more in everyone around us and especially in ourselves. When we can see more, we can be more. More than objects, more than beautiful, more than a body. See more by redefining beauty for yourself. Be more by refusing to be defined by beauty.” -Lindsay Kite

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