By Corinne Sanders

What sled dogs taught me about body image

Blair with dogs
Blair with some of her charges.

Living in a society with unrealistic standards and cookie-cutter images of the perfect body makes it hard to accept the physical differences that make each of us unique, let alone celebrate them.

But what we often forget is that our bodies aren't meant to be the same. It's a simple truth we've all struggled to believe — and one Blair Braveman learned to embrace with help from an unexpected source: sled dogs.

The dogsledder and self-proclaimed adventurer was taught growing up that all bodies are different but says it was training and caring for dogs with individual needs that really drove the point home for her. Since then, she adds, it's done wonders for her body image. And she wants to share that gift with others.

That's why Blair recently took to Twitter, sharing photos of many dogs she works with and how they've taught her about every individual's beauty. Read below as she imparts her wisdom, beginning with the simple statement, "Get this: All bodies are different.

"All of the dogs' bodies are so different. Some of them eat thousands of calories a day and are still complete stringbeans. They eat literally three times as much food as everyone else. Some of them can eat, like, a tablespoon of kibble, and the next day they need a bigger harness.

"Some of them can start training in September and are immediately ready for long runs. Some of them need to ease into training slowly.

"Some of them have disabilities. Some of them were born with bodies that make everything harder for them, and they need extra care and understanding to really shine.

"The point is, THEIR BODIES ARE SO DIFFERENT. But the differences aren't good or bad. They just are."

sled dog

With that observation, Blair says, came an incredible, life-altering epiphany.

"The dogs' bodies aren't up to them, just like ours aren't. There's no value judgment. They are what they are," she wrote. "And every single one is magnificent."

Dogs are such wonderful companions, but who knew caring for them could teach us so much about ourselves? Thanks, Blair, for blessing us with this much-needed reminder. Every body is unique, and that's what makes them all beautiful.

Editor's note: Thousands of years ago, someone else who worked with animals – the shepherd David – also knew the truth that God made all bodies different. In Psalm 139:14-16 he wrote: "I praise You [God] because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be."

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