What is Body Trust?

Our collective fails to understand the role discrimination, stigma and oppression play in people’s emotional and physical well-being.  We fail to see how conversations about health often bypass the social determinants of health (poverty, trauma, environmental racism, genetics). We over-rely on personal responsibility and bootstrapping rhetoric (i.e. If you get sick, it’s your fault). We reinforce a hierarchy of bodies that is upheld across systems and institutions without questioning the validity of our supposed knowing. Individual’s worthiness is born from this, as well as the coping mechanisms which allow people to survive in a culture that doesn’t truly value them. Our book, Reclaiming Body Trust: A Path to Healing and Liberation, is about where and why that coping began, how it evolved, and how we begin to feel more free.

We have turned in the book manuscript to our editor and are awaiting feedback to make our final revisions. Some days we are not sure how, exactly, we pulled off writing a book during such an intense year. As you can imagine, the writing process made us revisit, rethink and revise the various ways we describe the healing process and liberatory praxis that is Body Trust:

Body Trust is a radically different way to occupy and care for your body. It is a pathway to reclaim your body and is completely counter to conventional “wisdom” about food, body image, weight, and health in our culture. Body Trust is paradigm shifting work that invites bravery and fierce body compassion.

Body Trust is a strength-based, trauma-informed, scientifically grounded healing modality—a way out of the predictable, repetitive pattern of dieting, disordered eating and weight cycling fueled by shame, trauma, and body based oppression. Body Trust is greatly informed by liberatory frameworks and methodologies including Bobbie Harro’s Cycle of Socialization and Cycle of Liberation, Barbara Love’s Liberatory Consciousness, Desiree Adaway’s Praxis of Liberation, as well as Niva Piran’s Developmental Theory of Embodiment, Health at Every Size® Tenets, intuitive eating principles, shame resilience theory, motivational interviewing, self-compassion theory, relational cultural theory, mindfulness-based approaches, and post-modern therapeutic thought.

Body Trust is weight-inclusive, meaning this work is for all bodies. There isn’t a different set of rules for you, no matter how much you might feel different, isolated, broken, or in need of fixing. We want you to know we trust your body, regardless of your size. More importantly, we trust you with your body. No exceptions.

Body Trust is a birthright. You were born with an inherent trust for your body. Somewhere along the way you became disconnected from that way of knowing. Body Trust is disrupted by many things including and not limited to trauma, oppression, illness, and social constructs of gender, race, sexuality, beauty, health, and weight. Body Trust is an invitation to return to a relationship with your body and yourself that you want to be in for your lifetime—flexible, compassionate and connected.

Body Trust is a reckoning. It requires you to come to terms with your humanity, your vulnerability, your own needs and desires, your genetics, your family history, your set point, and so much more. You will reckon with the ways you’ve been socialized, the lies you’ve been told, the harm that’s happened, the years wasted, and the money and energy spent on the dream – and the illusion – of being in control. Body Trust asks you to make space for the grief that arises when you realize we’ve all been duped. Reckon so you can begin to heal and come home to yourself.

Body Trust is a reclamation. Of pleasure. Of knowing. Of wanting. Of listening. Of your voice, your story and your own damn self. Body Trust work is a process of reclaiming your body after you’ve been harmed by oppression, trauma, stigma, diet culture, gender norms, shame, difference, and othering, and then further distanced from your body by the attempts to mitigate that harm by trying to control food, your feelings, and/or your body.

Body Trust is repair work. You are healing your relationship with food, your body, and yourself. You are repairing the damage done living in a body oppressive world. Just like when you’ve lost trust in any relationship in your life, it takes time to get it back. You are not going to just say, “Okay, I’ll trust you now.” Trust is earned through small, consistent acts over time. When it comes to Body Trust, this trust is reciprocal—you are working on trusting your body and your body is working on trusting you to give it enough to eat consistently and predictably. You cannot repair your relationship with your body by using a plan to make it into what the dominant culture thinks your body should be.

Body Trust is a homecoming— a process of getting “below the neck” and returning to the innate wisdom of your own embodied experience, knowing that access to this wisdom will vary depending on your body story, your social location, and how much resourcing is available. Much of what we are taught about living in a body is focused on doing things to and on the body instead of for and with the body. When the very wise ways you’ve adapted and coped for your own survival run counter to mainstream ideas about what a “good” person or “good” body should be or do, you are presented with an impossible choice: become buried in shame and self-blame or choose an identity that limits your ability to know and express who you truly are. Instead of continuing to move through the world like a floating head, Body Trust challenges the status quo by reconnecting you to your own knowing, your deepest truths, and your inner wisdom, so you can begin to feel more at home in your body, navigating the world and making decisions from a more connected place.

Body Trust is liberatory. Bodies cannot breathe when overtaken by demands for assimilation. Our stories and bodies are too complex, too varied and too underexpressed to fit into a simple narrative about disordered eating, or body size, or health, or skin color, or gender. Reclaiming your body is an act of resistance, and while this resistance does not always resolve oppression but it does bring us closer to our humanity and connection to others. Body Trust is a move towards truth and freedom and a way to enforce boundaries around the prescribed stories and values that do not allow you to heal, know your own truth, and live more fully in the body you have today.Body Trust is a practice. So much of what we desire to bring into our lives takes time and practice before we can fully embody it. Body Trust is not a new plan, a gimmick, or a short-term solution, nor is it something you can rebuild simply by reading about it and understanding it intellectually. A heady exploration will only get you so far. To divest from diet culture and sink your roots more deeply into body trust, you will need to take risks and work the edges of your comfort zone as you experiment with and practice a different way of relating to food and your body. And just like when you are learning any new skill, it will be awkward, bumpy and clunky. It won’t always be pretty. You may feel like you are flailing without the rigidity and rules of a plan. If you allow your inner critic to spin these challenges into a story about how you “are broken” and “you’ll never get it right”, you will abandon this work for a familiar program that helps you feel more contained from “the messiness”. You may wander and then return. You will fall down and get back up. This is what it looks like to practice. It will get easier if you keep going. Body Trust is not necessarily a place we arrive, but a connective energy we cultivate. It is most certainly an endeavor for a lifetime, and just as our bodies will not stay the same for a lifetime, our practice will shift and change to rise and meet our evolution.

Signatures of Hilary and Dana Be Nourished owners