body bashing

body bashing

accept your body

*for any new readers -  the reason for the quote is to start the article with a fluffy quote that often doesn't really help, and then I have an interpretation and try to actually clarify the perspective around stigmatised topics :)) thanks for reading <3


an everyday moment:

That moment when someone saids ‘I look/feel fat’ and the immediate reflexive response is a ‘no you’re not’. It sucks to say, but this doesn’t feel like a ‘rare’ situation. Take Mean Girls for example, there’s a whole scene dedicated to body bashing - of purely bonding over physical insecurities. Body bashing makes it way into daily conversation, in everyday thoughts towards our own bodies that its difficult to even try and be counter-cultural when statements like these rear its head. For instance, people can be hanging out and then someone brings up that they’re insecure about [cue physical insecurity] and suddenly it becomes a ‘me too’ moment that makes everyone feel closer in a peverse way.

‘It is a social norm, after all: When we notice people have lost weight, we’re supposed to say something (“You look great, by the way!”). And when we notice people have gained weight, we’re supposed to shut the hell up.’

We’ve made talking down on our bodies common, but let’s not make it normal.

a reflection:

I’ll be clear. The ‘solution’ is not to suppress these thoughts, or statements of feeling ‘ugly/fat/etc.’ It’s not about shaming others or ourselves when this sort of stuff comes up as ‘not evolved enough’. These expressions are genuine negative feelings I/or the other person may have that convey an actual discomfort within my body, or insecurity with appearance.

So why does ‘you’re not fat’ not work as reassurance?

‘no you’re not’ perpetuates the idea that ‘fat’ is something you definitely don’t want to be and would objectively be a ‘bad’ thing - or something that would give grounds for feelings of lower self-worth and confidence. Basically, it provides a very short-lived relief that just perpetuates the stigma around weight, strengthens fear of weight gain and perpetuates avoidance of ‘fat’. And we proceed to wonder where disordered eating comes from?

‘You cannot compliment someone’s smaller body without tacitly implying there was a problem with the larger one they had before. You cannot soothe someone by saying, “you’re not fat, you’re beautiful” without simultaneously saying that fat is not beautiful. So, to recap: Don’t do it.’

From a young age, we’re bombarded with societal messaging around physical appearance being associated with certain traits. A lot of us were brought up to believe that being thin was one of the most impressive things we can do - even announcing weight loss is on the same list as changing jobs.

A lot of the Disney movies from when we were younger as well as TV shows, showcased female characters who were thin as more desirable, attractive, confident, morally ‘good’ (vs Ursula for example) and having greater discipline or willpower etc. and vice versa. ‘Fat’ is often associated with gluttony, shame, laziness, undesirability - feeling ‘fat’ overall feels like dealing with a tough emotion and it’s hard to pin down what it is, that often ‘fat’ becomes the all-in-one word. When that thought comes up, it can be helpful to see what it really is I’m feeling →

Am I just physically uncomfortable right now (feeling bloated, excessively full, sore, cramping), or am I feeling other emotions (low, bored, lonely). Then I can meet my actual need rather than glorify thinness as the panacea to all this discomfort, but tear down myself and other people in the process.

Another way to pin down the feeling is becoming aware of what feelings ‘not being fat’ would give you. Does it imply greater confidence, courage, sassiness → then that would suggest that feeling ‘fat’ is just feeling the opposite (not confident). You can detach these feelings from your body image whilst aiming to optimise your physical health. The amount of pressure and responsibility we load onto our bodies to dictate our feelings, confidence is crazy - no wonder food can become a numbing mechanism. Maybe ‘not being fat’ would provide you with mental freedom to actually be present without being preoccupied with how you appear to other people - so then try doing that anyway. Maybe you think it will provide you with the courage/permission to do more bold/outrageous actions without being questioned - do them anyway, the people that will have a problem with it will find a problem with it regardless.


magic in the mundane:

Honestly, it’s an ongoing discussion and there’s no ‘right way’ to talk about body image. My silly, little analogy I like to think about with body bashing is to think of our bodies as paintings/sculptures in progress. As the artist, if we continually criticise our sculpture - it may help in expressing a genuine dissatisfaction with the artwork and a desire to improve our artistry. However, the continuous criticism will not improve the artwork and would degrade at your confidence as an artist. You might see other sculptures and go oh I wish I could do that, then bash your sculpture for not looking like other sculptures. If you fundamentally view your scultpure as flawed, you won’t try to improve it because you fundamentally don’t see any beauty in it and hence, you think there’s no point. The point is, hate doesn’t work. It’s not long-term - it’s biting, harsh and it strengthens disconnection from self. People can start bonding over their ‘ugly’ sculptures, and yet, they each see the beauty in each other’s sculptures.

If these moments come up, respond to the feeling that underlies what they’re trying to say - debunking the statement brushes off the statement and the situation but it doesn’t help in the long-term. For example, I can validate what I’m feeling like ‘yeah it feels really uncomfortable to feel excessively full, bloated’ and then what can I do to feel better - maybe its to get into comfy clothes etc. Or, ‘yeah, it sucks to not feel beautiful/attractive right now (is it because you feel like you HAVE to or does it genuinely please you - could also be both)’.

We often think that these statements is what will drive us to ‘love’ our bodies, where it puts the fire under our butts to take extreme measures/decisions for our physical appearance (diets, workout regimes etc.). But it creates this fallacy of one day and forevermore loving how you feel and look in your body eternally - which, is the aim, but the true growth comes in meeting yourself on the days or the moments that this is not the case (these may become less frequent but they come up nonetheless).

On these days, don’t pressure yourself to love your body and how it looks immediately (this is what drives such extreme decisions - a diet etc.) - purely get to a point where how your body looks doesn’t make you feel down about yourself. Or, maybe engage in an activity where you are so in flow that you realise your appearance/body does not matter and does not hinder your ability to live life in an enjoyable way. These thoughts of insecurity can be daily thoughts, they take up so much energy → imagine what you could do instead with all that energy - remember they do stem from a place of wanting to feel better.

At the end of the day, our bodies are not here to be bashed. We owe it to ourselves to appreciate the health of our mind and body, and nurture them. We can be out here bashing our own sculptures when other sculptures are cracking apart and breaking. If the underlying desire of ‘feeling fat’ is just wanting to be more active, then owe that to yourself without feeling like you would be fundamentally ‘better/more desirable’ in a smaller body frame. Alternatively, the undelying desire may be wanting to feel less excessively full after each meal because it’s uncomfortable, then also owe that comfort to yourself without all the ‘pig’ labels.


fromtheheart mantras:

  • A real reframe that has really shifted the needle is substituting comparison with wondering and having curiosity with how treating my body the best - what would that look like?
    • As opposed to wanting to look like others. Actually wanting to know how I look like when I fuel myself, move my body intuitively - and becoming excited with that prospect

 

  • Physical insecurities always fluctuate. They’re transient. They come and go. I can feel uncomfortable in my body without my self-worth and confidence depending on it.

 

  • Body image can also become one of the ‘if onlys’ in life. It’s like ‘only when I look this certain way’ then I can do all this stuff that I want to do.
    • I practise giving myself permission to do what it is I want to do and believe in my internal strength and confidence. I can do it without the courage/validation that I think looking a certain way will provide for me.
    • This one is such a helpful one because it is one of the subtle societal messages to women - we often see ‘successful’ women as very physically attractive/desirable and think that we must look a certain way to do the same - hence the self sabotage. When in most cases, celebrities curate their appearance AFTER their fame, or usually, they see their innate beauty and let themselves do their passion (singing, acting etc.) without seeing their appearance as a hindrance or a proponent.

 

  • And if you’re ever feeling insecure about certain features: I am living proof that generations of people have loved these features before 

 

  • Get to a point where how your body looks doesn’t make you feel down about yourself, rather than pressuring yourself to change it as quickly as possible so it pleases you/societal constructs.

 

  • Better done than perfect - Pia Mance

 

  • Accepting your body is not the same as ‘giving up’. Accepting it is the opposite of abandoning it.

I tend to feel tentative writing about topics like these, but the whole premise of this blog is to think out loud, have honesty, be raw and real with shifting limiting beliefs. I write this with so much heartache and love - and I hope that we all can appreciate and nurture our bodies, because it can feel difficult in a world that normalises the opposite.

*disclaimer - not a health professional (yet) - purely a girl who yaps :)


recommendations of the week!

→ Recipe of the Week

Protein Ball Recipe has been tried and tested - delicious + nutritious! -

 

→ Influencer of the Week

Emma Louise - she has a podcast called 'everything is hard' and her whole platform is dedicated to shifting culture around eating and body image - check her out if this blog resonated with you!

 

from, the heart <3

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