It Encases the Rest of You
Today I’m posting excerpts from a brilliant essay by a 19-year-old Irish actress called Evanna Lynch. She plays willowy, dreamy Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter movies.
(Incidentally, she wrote the whole piece for the Harry Potter Alliance:Â 100,000 kids who take the messages and ideals from the stories and make them happen in the real world -Â as seen in Time. How great is that?)
Anyway, I’ve always loved her story: as a little girl and a huge fan, years before she won her role in the films, she corresponded with Jo Rowling, who encouraged her dreams in spite of the fact that they’d both come from “sleepy” small towns. I didn’t realize that she’d also helped her overcome an eating disorder, but that does a lot to explain why Evanna is so thoughtful and self-possessed. Bolding is added by me. I hope you like it as much as I do.
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I donâ€™t believe in mental blocks. I donâ€™t believe in what other people tell me I can and canâ€™t do. Basically, I have very little regard for the idea of â€œcanâ€™tâ€. ….
Itâ€™s true that the mind is where all ideas are born, but the body is the tool that translates and expresses those ideas to the wider world. It is nothing but a vehicle for our greater creative purpose but if we donâ€™t give it fuel and keep it in good working order it instead becomes another obstacle to transcend, a physical one, as well as the many million fictitious mental ones that society presents. ….
We feed ourselves negative thoughts about our body, thoughts like â€œIâ€™m too fatâ€, â€œIâ€™m too shortâ€, â€œIâ€™m too ugly.â€ Very quickly we glumly accept them as the truth, and thus we become imprisoned in our own body. We use them as excuses NOT to fulfill certain ambitions and lock ourselves into a cosy self-contained prism of isolation and fear. While writing this blog, the song by Arcade Fire, â€œMy Body is a Cageâ€ is playing in my mind. My body is a cage that keeps me / from dancing with the one I love / But my mind holds the key.â€ Iâ€™m no genius at interpreting indie band lyrics, but to me this song summed up the pain and frustration of someone who is in love with someone else but who refuses to act on these feelings because they feel their body isnâ€™t good enough. ….
If you donâ€™t use your body to its full potential, as a means of achieving your dreams, you are wasting it. ….
At the same time I realise how difficult it is to overcome this state of mind, and I know what a firm, unrelenting grip these thoughts can get on you. A few years ago I was haunted by destructive, negative thoughts like these. I used to get so angry and frustrated because I felt my mind didnâ€™t match up with my body and that it prevented me from things I knew I was capable of doing. It took me a while to realise that all of this was an illusion. If I continued to abuse my body by giving in to my negative thoughts, I didnâ€™t deserve to have the health and fitness I was blessed with. I would recommend all of you watch the film of â€œThe Diving Bell and the Butterfly,â€ a story about a man who suffers a terrible accident that leaves him paralysed. He is left with only the use of his left eyelid, and yet, all the odds against him, the man wrote a book about his life and journey by dictating it to a transcriber through that one left eyelid. That story really spoke to me and put things in such clear perspective. Continuing to allow such trivial things as body insecurities to control and dictate your day-to-day behaviour is continuing down a road of destruction and cowardice.
On the other hand, I donâ€™t believe in sweeping these insecurities under the carpet. Doing that is almost as destructive as obsessing over these insecurities. …. Iâ€™m trying to tell you that ignoring them is not the right way to deal with insecurities! Ignoring pain or problems doesnâ€™t make them go away. The fact is you have a body and, as it encases the rest of you, itâ€™s important that you are happy with it.
So I am giving you permission to make yourself feel beautiful! Do whatever it is you have to do to make yourself feel beautiful. If thatâ€™s keeping fit and healthy then go for a walk or run in the mornings and be determined to keep it up. Do your makeup, or if youâ€™re bored and want to change your appearance, then dye your hair a different colour. Eventually, by doing these little things and feeling more beautiful, you will break through all the self doubt and find the negative obsession fading away. Donâ€™t get lazy and tell yourself thereâ€™s no point; itâ€™s important! … Basically, my view on taking care of oneâ€™s appearance is that itâ€™s important insofar as it helps you to forget your appearance!
Weâ€™re damn lucky to have our bodies, these strange, multi-functional machines, that let us leave our legacy on the planet. I hope you realise how powerful they are and decide that today youâ€™re going to start treating it with love and kindness. Think of it like a child; if you were to continue to feed it on mental and physical abuse, and starve it of love and nourishment, how would it grow into anything other than an angry, embittered, cold-hearted delinquent? Whereas if you tell that child everyday that itâ€™s beautiful, loved, and can do anything, thereâ€™s no limits on what it can grow up to be. Itâ€™s pretty simple: Serve your body best so it can serve YOU best.