Most of my 26 years on this earth consisted of disgust, frustration, and resentment towards my body. I thought it was normal because every female around me was doing the same thing. We women literally bond over our self-hatred towards our bodies. Don’t believe me? Then you’ve probably never seen Mean Girls. The scene where every single girl takes her turn pointing out what she hates about her body? Yeah, that’s pretty close to real life.
But just because something is common does not mean it’s normal.
It’s not really our fault. Most of us grow up constantly reminded that we should hate our bodies. These reminders come from those around us and those we look up to (mothers, sisters, cousins, friends, role models, etc). And from magazines always telling us how to improve ourselves (because we are never enough). And from companies built around creating products to fix every part of our bodies they deem a “flaw”.
It’s unfortunate, but it’s the world we live in. The best part about the whole thing, though, is that we can change it. We can stand up to all of it and take our power back.
Is it easy? Hell no. This problem is the product of the BS women have been force fed for centuries. It won’t be fixed quickly.
It takes a ton of effort. It’s a constant practice. But it’s easier when we do it together.
But where the heck do we start? How do we even begin to tackle this global issue?
It starts with us each making peace with our own bodies. Below are 4 things we need to stop doing and steps to take instead. And none of it is advice to just “love yourself”. Because that is utter bullshit.
1. NEGATIVE SELF-TALK
That little voice in your head? She has a TON of power. And right now, that power and energy is probably highly negative. The crazy thing is, those things we are saying about ourselves in our heads, we would never in a million years say them to anyone else we love. So why do we think it’s okay to say it to ourselves?
This is probably one of the hardest things to change, but also arguably one of the most important. The first step in fixing it is awareness. Right now, you probably aren’t even aware how much negativity is living in your head. So your job is to start paying attention. Become non-judgmentally curious. That non-judgement part is key, by the way.
Notice patterns. Really hear the things you are saying about your body. What are they about specifically? Are there particular times this negativity gets worse?
This information is key to changing your current belief system about your body. Understanding what your negativity centers around will help you unpack some of the beliefs you’ve been conditioned to hang on to throughout your life. None of those beliefs are yours to keep.
The second step is to either replace that negative thought with a neutral statement about your body OR to switch the focus on to something positive or something you like about your body.
A neutral statement is a statement without feelings attached. No negativity or positivity. It usually just states a fact.
A positive statement can be anything you like about your body or anything you appreciate about it. Gratitude is super powerful.
Here’s an example:
While trying on shorts, you catch a glimpse of cellulite on your legs and you think, “Gross, cellulite is disgusting. Why do my legs have to look so awful.”
- Step 1: non-judgemental curiosity. Ask yourself why you think cellulite is gross. Is it really gross, or did you just become conditioned to think that?
- Step 2: Replace the thought with a neutral or more positive statement.
- Neutral: Look at your cellulite and think, “I have cellulite.” That’s it.
- Positive: Focus on something you like about your legs or practice gratitude for what they help you do. “My legs might have cellulite, but I am thankful to have legs that help me squat down to talk to my children.”
2. WEARING/BUYING CLOTHES TOO SMALL
Actions speak louder than words. And this says it all.
Whether you are wearing uncomfortable clothes that don’t fit because you’ve gained weight, or you’re buying yourself new clothes in sizes too small for “motivation”, it’s all fueling your hatred towards your body.
By refusing to buy yourself clothes that fit after you’ve gained some weight, you are telling yourself that you are not worthy of feeling comfortable or wearing nice clothes. This is reinforcing the idea that your weight or body is tied to your worth. And that couldn’t be further from the truth.
You are a living human being and that makes you worthy. End of story.
Yes, this also applies to buying the new swimsuit or dress 2 sizes too small for “motivation” to lose weight. You deserve to wear the cute dress now. You are worthy of wearing cute clothes no matter your weight.
Buying and wearing clothes that fit you is how you show yourself that you believe you are worthy. It’s an act of love for yourself.
3. SELF-DEPRECATING COMMENTS
Yes, even if they are jokes. Stop it. There are plenty of people in this world who will try to tear you down. Let them do it.
Plus, there are tons of other funny things to joke about. Be more creative.
These comments are super common after women get compliments, especially. Instead of accepting the compliment, we tend to downplay it by responding with a comment tearing ourselves down. That’s not productive, and it’s once again fueling this war that has been waged against our bodies.
“I love your dress. It looks great on you!”
“Really? I feel like it just accents my muffin-top, but thanks.”
4. COMPARING YOUR BODY TO SOMEONE ELSE’S
You cannot be someone else. Your body will never be anyone else’s. And to covet other people’s bodies is doing your own a disservice.
How would your mom feel if you wished for a different mom constantly? Or what about your significant other? It seems absurd to treat your relationships with loved ones this way, so why would we do this in our relationship with our bodies- the most important relationship we have?
I get it, we are in the social media era. Instagram photos of people’s “perfect” bodies with 8,000 filters on them lend themselves to constant comparison. But we have the option to stop. If there are particular people that trigger you into comparison on social media, unfollow them, de-friend them, or mute them.
Take control of what you can. And every time you find yourself falling into the comparison trap again, stop and remember your body is the only one you have. It is your vehicle for experiencing all the amazing things life has to offer.
Again, making peace with your body does not happen overnight. It’s a constant practice. But it’s time we stopped spending so much energy fighting our bodies. There is something beautiful about letting them be and appreciating them for what they are. Plus, the world needs us to put that energy into something more productive.
My last piece of advice? Remind yourself every single day:
“I have more to offer this world than what my body looks like.”