The last way that I read the phrase “transforming the body” relates to my own relationship to my fleshly existence. We all have an uncomfortable relationship with our bodies if we’re honest. As I have grown into my current Dad bod with age, I realize that the metabolism of my youth is not enough to keep me healthy and happy. My body fails me at weird times when I simply reach for something and feel a pain in my shoulder or back. I have tried different things to exercise more, but remain remarkably average or below.

Billions of dollars are spent each year on industries that promise to transform your body. Diet plans. Gym memberships. Nutritional supplements. Fitness equipment. And especially yoga pants and stylish activewear. This is the fulfillment of the promises made to us by the magazines, advertisements, and now Instagram stories about the bodies we “should” have.

So it’s no surprise that the stories and experiences of transgender people make people so uncomfortable. We are not even able to deal with our relationship to our own bodies. How are we supposed to respond to people who seem to change their relationship to their body in such radical ways?

We are not ready for our own liberation and transformation in our relationship to this mortal coil. Thus those who find liberation and freedom for themselves can seem quite threatening.

I’m also reminded of some of the amazing actresses like Rebel Wilson and Melissa McCarthy who seemed quite comfortable with their bodies when they started out. Yet at some point, it seems the beauty machine took over and they were forced to slim down and conform to market expectations. It was ok for a little while to be confronted with people who seemed comfortable in bodies outside of the parameters set by advertisers, but it couldn’t be allowed to last too long lest the profits begin to fall.

As much effort and energy as we put into transforming our physical selves from the perspective of standards of beauty, perhaps we have much to learn from our trans friends who have gone through an inner reckoning and are in the process of allowing their outer appearance to match their inner transformation. Perhaps it is less about our appearances and more about having a healthy relationship between our physical and mental selves. This can include transforming our bodies, but not in order to meet the expectations of an unhealthy society, but rather to embody the healing and wholeness we can find in a reconciled and redeemed life.

Photo from Ravishly

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4 comments on “Transforming The Body of Myself

  1. I knew a young adult who struggled with ADHD, depression, and being transgender. They had had a tough childhood and had seen a number of psychologists. They didn’t want to take medication for their ADHD tendencies but did want to do the necessary medical procedures to transform their bodies into their mental image of themselves. Their argument against taking ADHD medication was that it wasn’t “natural”.
    I had a lot of mixed feelings when Rachel Dolezal became headlines. Growing up in a black community I wanted to identify with those around me. My skin color kept me on the fringes and occasionally put me in hot water. It never occurred to me that I could reconstruct my identity. I suppose that if I was still part of that community I might be tempted to do so.
    Even though I now live in a mostly white community I still feel like a misfit. Over time I have come to believe that a lot of people struggle with feeling like they don’t fit in -even the ones that appear to be popular. They often have hidden or sacrificed a part of themselves in order to be popular. They live with deathly fear that if people knew their true selves that they would be rejected.
    Those fears might be valid. Considering the amount of bullying that goes on, considering how preoccupied our culture is with manufactured perfection, considering how our churches function as morality police, it is no surprise that there are so many who feel isolated and unwanted to the point that they want to take their own lives.
    I have often wondered what it would take, how would our society have to change in order for a transgender person to feel normal without having to make changes to their bodies? Could we create a society where ADHD was as natural as hair color or eye color? Could we ever be comfortable (again) with having the biology we were born with? And not have to change it with contacts, hair dye, tanning salons, nail polish, lip stick, make up, tattoos, medication, or DNA crisper? Or should our bodies be a canvas of creativity, our acceptance coming as a result of our own creative expression rather than that of our creator? Is our freedom of expression really the key to our acceptance?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow! Those are a lot of good questions. Might take another post to answer them all… Or at least try. One thing I will say is that the trans people I know would say that they make changes to their appearance and/or bodies to match how they feel internally and not because they aren’t accepted by society. It’s complicated and would probably be better for a trans person to explain their own experience rather than me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I understand that they want consistency. I don’t begrudge them their desire. In many ways I wish I could look like the black person that I feel like I am. But if I would, how many African Americans would really think of me as black? Not many, if the reaction to Rachel Denezal is any indication. So if I am not accepted by either blacks or whites then the only reason to change my body is for myself, which begs the question that if I am changing my body am I really accepting myself? Am I really accepting who God made me to be in all it’s messy complexity? Are the changes that I am wanting like wearing eyeglasses? Or a Cochlear implant? Do I view deafness as a disability or a gift? Sometimes complexity is too overwhelming and we need to simplify in order to function. Often times our greatest gift is also our greatest weakness, and our vulnerability puts us at too great a disadvantage.

        I look forward to reading more of how you are processing these things. And BTW great picture!

        Like

      • Yeah… it is definitely complex and I feel a pull to try and simplify it and make it understandable. Perhaps that is part of the problem. I think one of the most important parts of the questions you are raising is that they should be worked out in community with the different people and groups involved. My trans friends are the ones that have helped me understand their experience. My African-American friends help me understand their experience and how they might respond to things white people might do and dumb things I think or say. I know other white folks who have lived and worked in black communities for decades who say they feel more comfortable in those communities. Unfortunately, we can’t simply undo the complexities that history has created through the creation of the idea of race and historic divisions and social constructs. Becoming more aware of them and finding people who can both accept you and help you process and grow seems to be the key to moving forward! Thanks for your thoughts! It is good to be writing again.

        Liked by 1 person

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