08 April 2011

Body image - a loaded topic

Jonti Searll discusses body image, the beauty industry and society's expectations.


Wow – one of the most loaded topics. The wrong word or answer can get your head taken off, destroy or be destroyed, damaged for life.

Entire industries prosper on the fact that this a major concern for so many people in the western world. To say nothing of the support industries, advertising and media necessary to tell us how bad we will look if we don’t…, how horrible our lives will be, what terrible people we’ll be.

To paraphrase, and with licence, Winston Churchill: “Never in the field of human experience has so little been made so meaningful to so many by such manipulation.”

For the truth is that the “right stuff” - body, hair, pecs/breasts etc - is nothing but a manipulation that preys on one of our deepest fears – if we’re not “right”, nobody’s going to want us or love us.

Beauty within everyone
Hmm, I never realised I had such strong views on this until now. I’ve spoken about body image in my workshops and various other forums. And I’ve always said it really simply. Within every one of us is beauty. We are all capable of giving, receiving and sharing pleasure, we are all able to love and be loved.

The most sensual people I’ve known are those comfortable with their bodies. The best lovers are those who acknowledge themselves as sensual and sexual beings.

They’re concerned with what’s on the inside, as well as the outside. Because let’s face it, when all we’re concerned with is the outside, what we look like, we tend to ignore what’s inside and become just a tad shallow.

The question that begs to be asked is “How beautiful are the beautiful people?”. Does an amazing face or body come with the intelligence or heart or soul awareness to make pronouncements of value other than “I want to work for world peace”?

Never enough
If the motivation to change your body comes from the perspective of not being enough, there’s a small problem. It will never be enough. The insecurity and inevitable comparison ensures that somebody else is always going to be more… (or less…).

The other problem here is the truth of change. To expect to look the same at 40 as we did at 25 is absurd.

To look better because we’re more comfortable with who we are, more secure, to have an inner glow that only comes from a level of self-acceptance and self-love is much better. Now we’re talking!

Journey into Tantra
The journey into Tantra, Taoist sexuality and sensual exploration offers a path that brings us to a place of feeling good about who we are and how we look.

The first possibility on this journey is simply to feel good, to enjoy pleasure. We naturally start to feel better about ourselves when pleasure takes place in a space of honouring, nurturing and acceptance. And the experience of pleasure is not determined by how we look.

However, we are going to become more aware of our body and our health as we delve deeper into the realms of pleasure.

We will be more conscious of what we put inside us. We will exercise more. To enjoy the awesome magic of a three-hour Tantric lovemaking session you have to be fit and supple, you have to be able to breathe. You don’t need to be a sexual athlete, but you do need to be healthy.

Liking ourselves
Without even venturing into the realms of Tantra or anything sexually “funny”, the more you allow yourself to pleasure and be pleasured, the more aware of yourself, your physical and emotional being you become. This naturally brings a greater sense of well-being, energy and vitality.

So we start to like ourselves more. Regardless of what we look like externally. And we come to see that purely through feeling good, that whatever our body looks like, we can have fun and excitement, peace and passion.

And then the desire to change anything physically becomes more realistic, easier and most importantly, the motivation to change becomes different.

It’s because I like or even love myself more. And then weight, for example disappears, or my eating changes naturally, or exercise is more fun or purposeful. It comes from inside and is not dependent on anybody or anything else.

But the comfier I feel within my skin, the more sensual I allow myself to be, the better about myself I will feel, the more my body will come to a state of balance. And I will be happy! - (Jonti Searll, sensualist, Health24, updated April 2011)

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