Model wood doll representing the human body
Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash

Societal Value of the Body

Society simultaneously over-values and under-values human bodies. The media conditions us to be hyper aware of how we present our bodies – that we must obsess over making every part perfect, even providing blueprints for ideal body types.  Sure, more diverse body types are being accepted, but there is still an overwhelming expectation for bodies to be in very specific, ideal conditions. Conversely, we are also conditioned to accept that our bodies are merely vessels meant for others’ pleasure.  Our bodies must look good to others to be valued.

Our Bodies, Our Selves

I love flowers and find immense value in their beauty and the joy they give me. I patiently spend time to find the perfect bouquet and immediately take care of everything they need, even meticulously finding the perfect way to arrange them. Taking the time to research each flower, arrange them perfectly, bask in their beauty, and carefully and intentionally care for them helps me value them even more.  I often wonder how we can learn to value ourselves beyond just what our bodies look like, as much as I value a simple bouquet of flowers.

The Answer – Body Literacy

Body literacy is a part of valuing who you wholly are.  It is an awakening to your body being intricately intertwined with your mind and spirit. It is observing, learning about, and understanding your body. Body literacy is realizing and believing in the permanent dignity you hold simply for being human.

Why Does Body Literacy Matter?

What we do to and with our bodies affects our mind and spirit too.  Taking intentional time to observe, learn about, respect, and care for your body is paramount to your overall health.  No one else can care better for you than you because no one else knows you like you know yourself.   

How Does Body Literacy Help?

Being body literate will empower you to value your unique body, know what it needs, and to fulfill those needs in healthy ways.  Being body literate will help you step outside societal body-image pressure and help you appreciate yourself and all your splendid uniqueness and dignity.  Below are some questions to start your journey to body literacy.  Take time to think through them.  

The Pregnancy Resource Center has a program to delve deeper into body literacy details.  To learn more about the Emotional, Sexual, and Physical (ESP) Health Program, contact us today!

Questions to consider:

  • How much do you know about how your body works, especially fertility and sexuality? Take this quiz to find out. 
  • What are five things you appreciate about your body (beyond how it looks or fits into society’s blueprint)?  
  • How is your body connected to your mind and spirit?
  • Is there a habit in your life that doesn’t reflect how you value your body?
  • What ways can you learn more about your body to increase body literacy? Learn why the menstrual cycle is often called the “fifth vital sign” by clicking here.

Amanda Dick is a senior at Ohio University studying music therapy