Yep, you read that title right – you are the expert on your body. Did you know that? Because if you’re anything like me, most of the time I don’t feel like an expert on much of anything. That includes this vessel that carries me around and frequently feels and does things I can’t explain.
But, as much as it may be a mystery, nobody knows your body better than YOU.
- your doctor
- your mom
- your dad
- your best friend
- your personal trainer
- your nosy aunt
- your next-door neighbor
- internet friends
- well-meaning internet strangers and ESPECIALLY
- abusive internet strangers
Now, we’ll discuss some of the many ways to address online trolling and bullying in another blog post, but realizing the opinions of strangers (and a lot of non-strangers) are 100% irrelevant is the first step toward online peace (which may be an oxymoron, but stick with me).
So what does it mean?
There is a certain amount of freedom that comes with realizing you are the owner and expert of your anatomy. It’s yours! You don’t have to take bad advice or do things that make you deeply uncomfortable or feel unaligned.* To a certain degree and accounting for privilege, you get to make decisions about how you exist and move and eat and rest!
On the other hand, there’s also quite a bit of pressure that comes along with realizing you are the expert on your body. Existentialism aside, what does it mean to own a whole-ass body?
It’s a big responsibility! This is how our brains are transported through the world, and how we express so much of ourselves, and maybe it looks different than a lot of people’s or works in a different way, and if you’re like the vast majority of folks, your relationship with your physical framework is probably more complicated than not.
Red flags are flying, y’all
We are receiving a whole lot of information about our bodies from outside sources at any given time, and SO MUCH OF IT ISN’T TRUE.
Not even taking into account the actual scientific accuracy of fad diet claims or the latest “wellness” trends, just looking deeper at the WHY behind so many of these trends reveals the seedy underbelly of intention known as diet culture.
A brief glimpse into so many food and diet trends of the past will reveal so much information that is just absolutely BONKERS. Some of it’s silly, some of it’s downright dangerous to the scale of deadly, some of it even almost gets it right and then swerves at the last minute into full-blown nonsense.
If you want to hear more about ALL of this and more, I cannot recommend the podcast Maintenance Phase enough. Aubrey Gordon and Michael Hobbes could describe paint drying for 4 hours and I would hang onto every word, but the stuff they choose to talk about (“debunking junk science and wellness fads,” as their pod description so concisely says) is SO much better than paint drying and so well-researched and well-delivered and I live for it.
Their podcast touches on one of the hardest and most unfortunate realities of navigating life and caring for this body that you are the expert in – a whole lot of people make their living (and a really fancy living!) by convincing you that THEY are the expert on your body.
They will do their absolute best to guide you toward the foods, supplements, routines, subscriptions, plans, workouts, etc., that will benefit THEM, while promising that they will benefit you — a promise they simply can’t guarantee.
Ok, but what if I want to?
Here’s the good news: if you want to participate in any of the aforementioned routines, subscriptions, plans, workouts, etc., YOU CAN! That’s the beauty of bodily autonomy. You get to decide.
I encourage you, with every decision and especially decisions about your body, to be curious about why.
Why do I want to change the way I’m eating?
What makes me want to move this way?
Why is this important to me?
Sometimes the answers to these questions will be as simple as “because I want to feel better, and I think this will help” or “because I’m curious about this and I want to explore what it would be like.”
Sometimes the answers to these questions could be more complicated. Remember that diet culture and anti-fat bias have a sneaky way of creeping into the deepest corners of our brains and steering our decisions, even when we don’t realize it. And friends, it can be HARD to recognize internalized anti-fat bias.
It’s all about you
One of the best things we can do for ourselves and to reduce anti-fat bias, in general, is to stay connected to the various ways anti-fat bias presents itself in our lives, and in society. We don’t have to change our bodies because some stranger on the internet says we should. Or because the latest fad diet says eliminating THIS (with their help, of course) is all you need to be happy or adding THIS to your day will improve your life. Or even because someone in a white coat who hasn’t listened to you or your concerns says you *should* because they’re operating from a position of medical bias (sad, but true).
You live your whole life in this body. You are the expert. I know it may not feel like it, but you are the expert on your body.
*This does not entitle you to endanger others during a public health crisis because you “feel unaligned” with safe and effective preventative measures. Everyone’s bodies are different, AND your bodily autonomy does not negate someone else’s right to safety. That’s all I’ll say on the matter for now.