Do you hate your body? Do you only see your perceived flaws when you look in the mirror? Do you dwell on how you look, worrying you’re not thin enough, toned enough, tall enough, small enough? Are you always comparing yourself to the woman you know who has the “perfect” body and come up short? Do you feel like your body is out to get you? I mean, come on, if it would just cooperate with you, everything (and I mean everything) would be fine, better, fixed! Right…?
I hated my body for a long time. Like 43 years long. I gave much of my life to the pursuit of skinny. I’ve judged myself and criticized myself and berated myself and hated myself for not being able to maintain weight loss. None of that worked. It didn’t work to maintain weight loss and it certainly didn’t make me appreciate my body.
I still hated my body, no matter what size it was. I still saw myself as a failure and I used my “not perfect” body as proof that I wasn’t good enough. I bought into the lie that life is better and you only have worth if you are thin. But I finally learned to call bullshit. Because that’s what it is. Your worth has nothing to do with the size or shape of your body. Period.
Learning to appreciate your body doesn’t happen over night and I’m not going to pretend it’s an easy journey. It’s not. It is totally worth it, but it can have it’s ups and downs, just like everything else when we are learning something new. But there are some things you can do (really have to do) to help you stop hating your body and to start accepting it instead. So here is my take on the:
Top 5 Must-Do’s for Developing Body Acceptance.
1. Accept the reality of body diversity.
We have been fed one version of beauty, one acceptable body. And the truth is that it is a body that is predominantly very thin, toned, and white. It’s the truth. That leaves out the vast majority of all the bodies in existence. Which leaves women chasing a body that they, biologically, can’t actually even have.
Body diversity is a real thing. But while we accept that we can’t arbitrarily make ourselves taller, or shorter, and that we can’t control our eye color, or basic body shape, we seem to think that we have complete control over body weight and size. We don’t. We can’t make our body be a shape and size it just isn’t wired to be, no matter how little we eat or how much we exercise. And, unfortunately, this is one thing we tend to resist. We believe the lie. (I’m not going to go into the science here, but you can check it out in these two great resources: Body of Truth by, Harriet Brown and Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon.)
Your body is genetically what it is and most of us on this planet will not fit the very narrow range of beauty that we are being told is the only beauty. Learning to accept that your body is unique and genetically wired to be a certain size and shape, and that it is not in your complete control to change that, is a must on the road to ending body hatred.
2. Clear out your media feeds.
You clear out your media feeds by cleansing them of images and people that trigger you to feel negatively about yourself. (And just so you know, this is the only cleanse I will ever endorse.) If you are following people on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or email that make you feel like your body is not right the way it is, unfollow them. You don’t have to unfriend people and cause a big to-do if you don’t want to, but block the people that generate feelings of “not enough” in you.
Stop reading the magazines or watching the tv ads that tell you you need to look differently to fit in and be acceptable. Clear it all out. It’s not helping. If it makes you feel “less than”, it’s not for you.
3. Cease and desist with comparison.
Comparison is not usually used as a tool for building yourself up. It’s more like a wrecking ball for your self-worth. Whether you are comparing yourself to some other woman, to how you used to look, or to how you think you are supposed to look, it’s not healthy. When you are constantly judging some other body than the one you have as better, how can you ever learn to appreciate the one you’ve got? Compare and despair. Keep that phrase in your sweet little mind. It’s a gem of truth.
4. Express appreciation for the things you do like about your body.
And think twice before you say, “There isn’t anything.” Without your body, you don’t get to be here. It’s purpose is to give you a vehicle for living your life. And if you are sitting here able to read this, it has least gotten something right, right? Your body lets you run or hug your child or pet your dog or sing or dance or hear music that stirs your soul. Your body let’s you enjoy the touch of your favorite blanket, to smell the yummy cookies baking, to laugh with your friends.
We’re not going for perfect here. Perfect isn’t part of this equation. All bodies have different abilities, but all bodies give you the chance to live your life. It’s so easy to feel like you and your body are locked in mortal combat. But it is so important to know that you and your body are on the same side. You’re a team. And like a team, you have to work together to be successful.
5. Talk nicely to your body.
Think about the staggering number of negative messages you have given your body. If your body were a child, you’d probably be accused of abuse. Seriously. When was the last time you fed your body positive messages, gave it gentle support, treated it with compassion?
Your body may not look the way you want it to. Fine. But that does not mean it deserves abuse. Do you think bullying a child because she is heavier than the other kids is ok? Is it appropriate to be mean to someone because you don’t like the way they look? No. No. No. Hell no. Your body deserves respect. So give her some R-E-S-P-E-C-T and speak kindly to her. You won’t regret it.
Look. I’ve been thinner than I am right now. I’ve been fatter. I’ve been more toned and less toned at different times in my life. I’ve been more physically active and less physically active. I’ve been sort of all over the map, if you will, when it comes to my body. But right now, I don’t hate my body. Right here, not at my thinnest and most toned and most active.
I can honestly say that I am grateful for my body exactly the way it is. I’m not trying to look differently and I’m not trying to change my body. This, my lovelies, is huge. I never, ever, ever in my whole life thought I could say that. And I’ll let you in on a little secret… it feels really good :o)