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body positive

Losing Weight Does Not Cure Negative Body Image.

Fat Loss, Health, Lifestyle, Mindset By March 26, 2017 Tags: , , , , , No Comments

 

This is typically something you will not hear from someone who works in my field. Personal trainers have been profitting off of the negative self-image of others for a long time. Promising that when you lose 20lbs or you have a more shapely butt that you will just start to ooze confidence.

Unfortunately, a change in the number on the scale is unlikely to unravel your whole self-belief system you have held for the majority of your life. If you view your body negatively, the way you see yourself is not going to change just because you lose weight. The way you carry yourself is not going to change just because you lose weight.

As someone whose weight has varied from its heaviest at 220lbs and at its lightest 135lbs, I can tell you that even at the times in my life when I was my leanest I was never satisfied with how my body looked. I was in what a lot of people consider to be “great shape” and still I had no confidence – I was painfully shy and the idea of wearing shorts in public would send me into a frenzy of tears and panic. I would constantly compare myself to other women – especially models and actresses – and try to validate myself by making my body and my overall look similar to them.

Nowadays, I maintain a fairly consistent bodyweight, and although I am not at my leanest – I am probably the healthiest I have ever been mentally and physically. I am strong and mobile and I can do things I was not even able to do as a child – such as handbalancing. I now maintain eye contact with people when I am talking to them, I don’t speak quietly or mumble anymore, and I am no longer petrified of wearing shorts in public. And even though I am not what society considers traditionally beautiful – I am happy with my body: how it looks and all the wonderful things it does. And this confidence has trickled into all aspects of my life.

But I know not everyone feels this way about their bodies. We have it hard, as women society tells us that if we are not “conventionally beautiful” à la Victoria Secret Angel than we are not valued. By no means am I saying that looking like a supermodel is wrong, however there are maybe 5 people in the world that look like Victoria Secret Angels and there are 3.5 billion women being told to look like that and being told that they are not worthy or valued based on how they look right now. And this is a HUGE PROBLEM.

There are 5 women in the world that look like this and it shouldn’t matter that you don’t look like them.

We, the people, come in a variety of shapes, colours, sizes, ages, ability, and body compositions and we should never feel guilty or ashamed of being ourselves nor for simply being in our bodies. The sooner we acknowledge and accept that, the sooner we can heal our broken relationships with our bodies and develop a stronger and more positive self-image. We can ask for better representation of our diverse bodies by voting with our dollars with the products purchase, by purchasing from companies that showcase our diversity. Hopefully over time we will achieve better representation of our physical diversity and this will normalize all bodies.

There is a strong need for a more diverse range of people in our modern day media.

Outside of asking society to change the narrow representation of the female body there are things we can do ourselves. We must first start by accepting our bodies and loving them. We can do this by:

  • doing things that make our bodies feel good; moving, eating, resting, sleeping, laughing, dancing, singing, exercising in ways that we enjoy, etc.
  • wearing clothing that is comfortable and makes us feel good
  • surrounding ourselves with positive people
  • keeping an inventory of the things we like about ourselves and our bodies
  • being grateful for all the wonderful things our bodies can do such as breathing, healing, running, etc.
  • protesting messages and media that are non-inclusive with regards to our bodies
  • calling people out for body policing and shutting down body policing

I also strongly believe an integral part of developing healthy body-image also begins by detaching our value as human beings to our looks. I am not saying it is wrong to want to change the way you look – however knowing that are valued outside of your looks is highly important. We are whole people – with skills, abilities, and smarts that can contribute to the world in so many positive ways outside of our looks. Taking the time to acknowledge, develop, and use our non-aesthetic assets will allow you to positively impact the world and in turn reward us with confidence and happiness that conforming our bodies to a societal iron maiden never could. 

When we start to claim our presence as whole people, we remember that we are not hollow shells meant earn our place in the world by pleasing the eyes of others. Only once we have accepted our bodies as they are can we begin to love them and act from a place of compassion and treat ourselves with respect and love we deseve. Maybe then we will fully acknowledge that losing weight does not cure negative body image.

Our remedy for negative body image starts with how we think and how we act. We need to act in line with how we want to feel and stand together to manifest the changes necessary to make us feel more positively about our bodies. We owe it to ourselves to take the steps towards feeling comfortable, safe, and confident in our bodies, and we are the only people who can make that happen.

I know I am ready for women to feel normal, happy, confident, and proud of their bodies. 

Are you?

 

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The World Needs the Body Positivity Movement

Health, Lifestyle, Mindset By February 5, 2017 Tags: , , , No Comments

As some of you may or may not know, I often describe myself as “body positive.”

Some people adore this, some people are confused by it, and some people find it down right offensive. For the last two, it’s mostly because people don’t understand what “body positivity” is and why it is.

 

“Isn’t body positivity just and excuse to be lazy and eat ice cream all day?”

I truly wish I had a dollar every time someone asked me if body positivity is just an excuse to be lazy and not take action towards living a healthy lifestyle. That is actually the antithesis of body positivity.

Body positivity is learning to appreciate all the different facets of your body in relation to form and function so we can feel good about the bodies we have and lead happier, more confident, and more productive lives. People who feel positively about their bodies will respect the bodies – and this will be reflected in their actions. People who love and respect the bodies will nourish themselves, move and exercise to feel good, rest and recover, and engage in self-care that sets them up for a life where they thrive physically and spiritually.

Conversely, when we hold negative views about ourselves and our bodies, the actions we take are often out of self-hatred and we end up abusing our bodies. As I’ve observed many times and have part-taken in during various times in my life, people abuse their bodies in a multitude of ways every single day and these behaviours are reflected on a spectrum of extremes:

  • eating foods that make them feel terrible
  • over eating
  • under eating
  • restrictive dieting
  • disordered eating patterns
  • substance abuse
  • over exercising
  • not exercising
  • not resting and recovery
  • conforming their body into an iron maiden of societal beauty standards
  • and much more…

“All you see is what you lacking, not what you packing.” – J. Cole

The by-product of this negativity we feel towards ourselves when we are not body positive is also reflected in how we treat other people. “We see the world not as it is, but as we are,” – if we are constantly criticizing ourselves, hating ourselves, and forcing ourselves into suffering we are incapable of feeling positively and feeling supportive of the people around us.

And this feeling is something that exists in people of all sizes and shapes – recall that body shame exists on a spectrum of extremes and these behaviours are exhibited in many different ways. This is why “fat-shaming” and “fit-shaming” are things, because people are so critical of themselves and suffering so much that they feel the need to shame others – misery loves company – so then there is this attitude that “If I have to suffer, you have to suffer with me.”

But the world doesn’t have to be this way. This spectrum of body-shaming wouldn’t exist if people took time to dismantle the negative thoughts and behaviours that keep them stuck in the same place. Evidently, there are a lot of external factors in our society we can’t control. However we can focus on the things we can control – the internal factors: how we think and behave towards ourselves and others.

It won’t be an overnight turn-around, but one day at a time, one action a time, we can change ourselves and the world around us. It starts within, changing our negative self-talk, being more compassionate to ourselves, and being less critical. Once we start taking better care of ourselves, we can evolve to a point where we are able to be kind and supportive to others – making our lives and the world we live in significantly better.

Are you ready to join the movement?

 

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