Something amazing is happening in the world of advertising. Have you noticed the larger bodies images? All sorts of products are using all sizes of models. No longer almost exclusively the domain of the thin ‘perfect’ body, I now see realistically sized women (and sometimes men) in many images.
This is wonderful.
Wonderful for the millions of people who thought this was how they had to look. Because being thin = healthy perfect successful gorgeous, and somehow ‘good’, all in that image of slimness. When I say perfect, I mean thin in the right places with muscle in the right places too, particularly for men. Goodbye to this definition and good riddance.
The separation of health and body size has been slowly happening in the US (for example see Health At Every Size), only recently has it really gathered momentum here.
So let’s be really clear about this – you can be in a bigger body and healthy, and you can be in a smaller body and unhealthy. Thin does NOT (always) = health. In fact being underweight for your frame is really not good for longevity. Neither is yo-yo dieting.
Likewise, having a poor body image can affect anyone, whether small or larger. Poor body image means low body confidence, probably low self-esteem, and is likely to impact overall wellness of body and mind. Who isn’t affected in everything they do say and think, when constant negative abuse is running through their own minds about their size? And possibly facing external discrimination too. Relationships, families and social life, movement and hobbies, work, seeking medical treatment …… every domain of life can be damaged by poor body image.
This is why the recent liberation of bigger bodies is so important. It may take a while, it may not be full mainstream yet (I suspect it will take the film industry a while). But positive changes are happening. The last area of ‘legitimate’ discrimination is slowly on its way out. Thank goodness.
However, if you are thinking ‘all very well but I want to feel better TODAY’ then read on, I have some ideas –
- Take any clothes in your wardrobe that don’t fit you now and hide / recycle them. Leave only what you can actually wear now. If this means buying 1 or 2 new clothing items that make you feel at least OK, budget allowing, then so be it.
- We need to switch the focus from how our bodies look to what our bodies do. When you get into bed at night, before you turn out the light, think ‘what did my body do for me today?’ and thank your body for that. Maybe are grateful for the arms that hugged your children, or the feet that took you on that walk, that prepared the meal. Don’t forget your mind too – your amazing brain is enabling you to read this now. Thank you brain.
- And how about a morning acceptance practice – as you shower or dress, is there 1 area of your body that is acceptable to you? Your toes, your wrists, your eye, your hair? Focus on that, relish it, and tomorrow find another area. Try to build up to bigger body parts slowly.
- Another change of emphasis from size to health can be helpful. g, wanting weight loss is about denial and the future. Being healthier and showing yourself some self-care through how you eat / move / sleep / manage stress can start right now for most of us. Can you make 1 food switch today that shows your body some respect? Can you get to bed 15 minutes earlier? Can you breathe a little calmer while reading this?
- Starting today, stop judging other people on how they look. Don’t praise weight loss and don’t encourage others to do so. This reinforces it, and then how awful do people feel when putting on weight knowing no compliments will come their way. How about complimenting someone’s personality, values, actions? Then watch the ripple effect unfold.
- Can you find someway to move your body that makes you feel good? Don’t call it exercise if that scares you, no need to formalise it. Can you move in a way that your bodyand mind respond to – perhaps swimming, gardening, hoovering, walking? And if you connect with others in doing this, even better.
Changing thoughts and ideals ingrained in us isn’t easy. However, remember awareness is the 1st step to change. Take it one step at a time.
Imagine how much more headspace you would have for life if you didn’t spend a large chunk of the day hating your body – how liberating – how energising – how exciting.
I have some further resources to help
Read – Living with your Body and Other Things you Hate – Emily Sandoz & Troy DuFrene
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