Women can have different bodies. Women’s bodies are different for a lot of different reasons. We aren’t perfect. But often we confuse that with hating our bodies, or not wanting to admit that we need things to maintain health. Your body is your body, so why should its condition be any different than any other person’s?

The world has set us up to think we need to compete with each other. A friend who could have a 40-inch waist because she’s built differently than a other person. Plus size plus size plus size. All of a sudden, a woman is affected by more unrealistic conceptions of what she should look like than everyone else is.

Designing women’s bodies as these impossible competition tools or limiting qualities can shift the expectations to fit a certain body type. We are hardwired to make decisions based on images we see. So, we tend to follow others’ example. And in a lot of cases, these expectations can lead to poor body health. Many of the diseases that women come to have in their early or mid-30s, for example, are the result of them being treated for exactly that – having unhealthy bodies.

For most people, little things can make a big difference in how their body responds to stress. Whether it’s being mindful about the food you put in your body, keeping your circulation in check, or being certain you’re eating well and are exercising often enough, those small changes can have big consequences. For example, it’s a well-known fact that the obesity epidemic can be linked to lifestyle problems. And a bad diet may be just the tip of the iceberg.

There’s a huge piece missing from all of these conversations that reminds us that you can’t just be thin or be overweight. When women are feeling bad about their bodies, they need to understand that their body isn’t the be-all and end-all. It’s the beginning of what it means to be healthy. (The end does not have to come at the expense of your health or physical well-being.) And if you’re working towards health and get downgraded, there’s something wrong with the data you’re receiving.

Since I work at a nonprofit, I’m trying to shed the notion that you have to tell someone their experiences all in the name of “learning.” Too often we use research to help us understand those experiences rather than recognizing what they teach us about our own experiences.

Choosing is how our lives are going to get done. Your body is no place to bring battles.