According to social media and especially Instagram, getting embodied is the secret to living well, living longer, and having everything one could wish for, including better sex and more orgasms.
“Being embodied” is what everyone who has a better life than you has figured out, and, as with most trends, it heavily features and centers people who are thin, beautiful, and white. It has become a way to market programs and products, a buzzword used to promise the sort of consumer bliss that was previously (and continues to be) promised by words like wellness and health, and the yoga industry as a whole. As the global health and wellness and now embodiment industry soars to multiple trillions of dollars in value it becomes clear that the body is being handled as a product.
So, what do these words “embodied” or “embodiment” even mean, really? We have bodies. We’re embodied by default.
To be clear, I’m on Team Better Sex and More Orgasms, and I am daily amazed at the capacity of the human body for pleasure and how turning towards this capacity is a crucial aspect of activism and social change (see adrienne maree brown’s new book Pleasure Activism). I also facilitate courses and workshops on embodiment and so a portion of that multi-trillion industry dollar pool is mine. I’m entirely in favor of people being paid for their work, and in fact it is a clever trick of those in power convincing those of us who would fight and reimagine the system that we can only do so authentically if we’re poor.
But if we’re going to talk about going into the body, we can’t talk about the good results if we’re not also willing to talk about the politicized ways the body inhabits space. White supremacy is real, and even though race is not biological, racism has real biological effects, such as increased fatality of Black Americans than their white peers due to strokes and cardiovascular disease, even when adjusted for socioeconomic status and education. And as embodiment, health and wellness are increasingly commoditized, to ignore the economic effects of centuries of racism and how that affects access to health, wellness, and yes, embodiment, is an illustration that the embodiment industry remains focused on the white and the rich.