As you probably know I’m a Global Ambassador for the Body Image Movement (BIM) and talking about body image is my absolute passion. So I spend a lot of time and energy watching & participating in the world of body image and body positivity. Recently I’ve been following podcasts, blogs and Facebook groups in this field and it’s really got me thinking. There are a lot of messages telling us that we must learn to LOVE our bodies but I wonder if we are setting ourselves up for failure in the short term. I think I’d prefer to suggest loving our bodies could be better as a long term goal. Many of us have spent years hating our bodies or at least disliking them. In my case it’s been decades as I’m now 60 – most of you are probably younger so decades might not apply!
So where does all this hate/dislike come from?
From a young age we receive messages that suggest we are not good enough unless we change something about ourselves. Many of the messages are subtle but they still slip into our subconscious and can affect us throughout life. The messages could originate from an innocent comment by a relative, family friend or other figure of authority such a teacher or church member. Here are just a couple of examples:
Susan is so clever but Sarah will be the one the boys go for
Let’s put the ribbon in your hair, you will look so much prettier
Perhaps some make up will help
It’s just baby fat, you’ll look better when you grow out of it
When we reach our teens and adulthood the media kicks in, with it’s constant barrage of advertising. There is a never ending variety of products, treatments, programmes and surgeries we apparently need to make ourselves acceptable, pretty, confident, thin, glamorous, happier etc etc. In particular we see diet after diet that promises to give us confidence, happiness and love. All we have to do is follow the plan, drink the shakes and lose the weight and our lives will magically change, but do we really see what they promise? I think not. And don’t even think about showing any signs of aging. There are plenty of lotions, potions & surgeries available to prevent that from happening. Then of course there is always gastric surgery – my personal favourite. Why not butcher your body, leaving you with a miniature stomach that can only hold a tiny amount of food for the rest of your life. This can lead to so many complications, not to mention that it doesn't address the reason you gained the weight in the first place which probably has some emotional or trauma background.
We are constantly bombarded with photos of airbrushed models as the ideal image that we feel obliged to strive for, but we are striving for something that is impossible - it doesn't exist. If we saw those models in real life we probably wouldn’t even recognise them.
No wonder we feel inadequate
It's Not Your Fault!
All those years of brainwashing are hard to overcome and that’s what is required for us to truly love our bodies.
I know that even though my attitude to my body changed dramatically when I discovered the Body Image Movement a couple of years ago and when I saw Embrace I had an epiphany that made such a huge difference to my life. I realised that what my body looks like is insignificant, what is more important is what I have to say, what I have to share with the world & how I can help others. Yet despite that I admit that I still don’t truly love all parts of my body. However what I have done is ACCEPTED that it is how it is and unless I am prepared to do something drastic to change my size, shape and age, then this is how it will stay. I’ve tried the drastic approach before and it’s not fun – restrictive diets, deprivation of food, hunger, excessive exercise, binges etc etc.
So my recommendation is that you aim for body acceptance which is a much more achievable goal. That doesn't mean that you might not be able to reach Body Love at some point, just start with Baby Steps first.
Acceptance might well be the first steps
of a longer journey to Body Love.
If this article has struck a chord with you and you would like to start your journey of acceptance, then why not join me in my next workshop "Make Peace With Food & Your Body". There are 3 locations to choose from Roleystone (Perth Hills), Perth (close to the city) & Coolangatta in Queensland. There is a Facebook Event for each venue on the Embrace All of You Page HERE. All the details are the same for Perth & Coolangatta, just different dates & venues. Exact venue details will be provided closer to the workshop dates. Bookings can be made HERE.