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