"We are all so much more than our bodies"

"We are all so much more than our bodies"

This is the final line of an article I read this weekend about a lady named Turia Pitt. I read the line – a quote from Turia – re-read it, then just looked at the words for a while. How true they are.

Yet the obsession with appearance persists. Of course you can look at a person who appears fit, healthy and/or beautiful, and admire them for a moment. I do it: I wonder about their exercise regime, their daily diet, their dedication etc. But are they to be admired over the person who carries out voluntary work, but doesn't wear the achievement so obviously? The person who gives money to the homeless without speculating that they’ll probably buy alcohol with it anyway?

You can see a person running and want to be like them. You probably don’t envy their VO2 max. You don’t want to be able to match their bench press PB. You just want to look like them. Or to know how they do it. What’s their secret?

Oh, they probably don’t have a life. They probably don’t have a family to look after. They probably spend every night at the gym or in their garage, hitting the treadmill obsessively. Losers. Probably rich, too. Loads of time and money on their hands.

You might be right. Over the last few months, I have been working out ferociously. And this morning I thought I had figured out the secret. Commitment and effort, I decided. The commitment to go to every scheduled session. Then putting in maximum effort whilst there. But it also helps that I work freelance (loads of time!) and can afford the monthly pass (loads of money!).

We are so much more than our bodies. It’s nice to look good, of course. It feels healthy and positive. The compliments are ace. But doesn't it mean more to be complimented for the things you do and the person you are than the size of your waist? And don’t forget about the people who want to be bigger, too (oh, those poor people). Being told how much weight you've lost isn't always perceived - or even meant - as a compliment.

Back to Turia Pitt. Turia was extremely badly burned by bushfire whilst taking part in an ultramarathon at the age of 24. Now 26, she considers herself the luckiest girl in the world. She is so much more than her body.

Turia’s story comes across as inspirational. It doesn't sound pitying or patronising - classy writing. She doesn't scream “Survivor!” She’s a woman who might not have lived, but who has, and who is happy about it. So much more than her body! I also loved that no images were shown of Turia pre-accident. It’s very common to picture the ‘victim’ in their old life, usually with a beaming smile. To contrast it with the way they look now. ‘After’. Like a perverse makeover. But the pictures of Turia are all ‘now’.

Hmm, I didn't know this post was going to turn out like this, just from reading the last line of an article. It turned out to be the headline of the piece, too, but I hadn't noticed that as I had read the article backwards anyway. I do that with stories such as Turia’s. Sometimes I don’t want to know what has happened, or I don’t like to read the facts, which can be grotesquely detailed in an attempt to wrench an emotional reaction from the reader, to force us to feel ‘affected’.

The reflection in such articles usually comes at the end. We are left with a thought-provoking and/or life-affirming quote from the subject. I just wanted to read how she feels now and what she is doing, so I began reading from the end.

I should go and grab the magazine to credit the writer. The article is in the Australian Women’s Weekly, current edition, still on sale but possibly only for a day or so. I bought it after seeing Turia’s face on the cover all month and not wanting to be the person who picks it up wondering what has happened to the poor lady. Not wanting to be preached to about how I should be grateful. Eventually I decided the book of chocolate recipes on the front was reason enough to buy it. Upon getting it home, however, I turned to Turia’s story after reading the editor’s letter (ha, can you believe people read the editor’s letter?).

Anyway, waffle, waffle, the point of this post is to spread the ‘Love yourself’ message. Except that ‘Love yourself’ sounds appalling and Turia’s quote is infinitely cooler.

We are all so much more than our bodies.

Postscript. I have just retrieved the magazine. The article was written by Bryce Corbett – excellent work, Bryce. I read the final quote again to make sure I had not misquoted Turia Pitt. Then I noticed a small arrow following the quote, which denotes an article’s continuation on the following page. Argh! The author has wrapped up the final paragraph with another inspirational quote from Turia, but concluded with her own words of “The nation salutes you”. I’m going to have to let her off.