In my 29 years of life I’ve seen the conversation about body transform from a blame game to a deeper level of understanding and acceptance for different body types.
Unfortunately as an obese woman myself, I know that the self-acceptance part is a little lost in that we can understand and accept others, but not ourselves. The very real reality for plus sized women is that we are trapped in our own bodies and though we hold a lot of love and celebration for any other shape and sizes, we don’t hold the same enthusiasm or love for our own.
Society still has a long way to go when it comes to accepting that you can be happy at any size, and right now we’re at the stage where people are still afraid to talk about the very real, body shaming they experience on a day to day basis.
That leads to many being silenced, afraid or embarrassed to speak out for fear of further bullying, and then internalising the pain and shame of these feelings.
Then we become trapped in our own body.
We self-sabotage by trying to silence the hurt through eating, or unhealthy relationships with food. We shy away from the public and end up becoming physically trapped in our homes, with our thoughts to constantly shame us in the middle of the night.
All of this is unhealthy behaviour, but I would never judge another person for doing exactly that because I know how it feels. Even if you’ve not experienced body shaming, you will know how it feels, because at some point or another, we have all felt what it is like to feel unwanted and rejected by society.
I’ve been trapped in my own body for most of my life. Whatever size or shape I was, I have always been told I’m ‘too’ of something, too much or too little. My body has been used as a way of making me feel less than, time and time again. As a kid you’re teased for puppy fat, as a teenager you’re made fun off for developing quicker than others, as an adult you’re ostracised unless your body fits into society’s definition of a good body.
All the trappings for a body centred life when really, we’re so much more than that.
For me personally, I feel like body, most specifically my body has felt like all my life has been about. Either we’re trying hard to lose weight to meet unfair requirements or we’re trying to gain weight to get a little bit of curves. When we meet those goals, we’re then taught we’re not toned enough or we’re too toned. There’s never any winning. We internalise a lot of these thoughts, feeling less than, not going enough, not worthy. This develops into unhealthy relationships with food, body hatred and self loathing.
We need to break this cycle, because for as long as we’re focusing on how attractive or not attractive our bodies are, we’re being distracted from the other important parts of our character.
Let me share with you some things I’ve learned in my journey to body love and what has stopped me from falling back into the old cycle of body hate.
1. Recognise what you can or can’t change
Remember that, in this life, there are things we can and cannot change. For those things you can change, go ahead and start making plans on what you can do to make yourself feel more happy and comfortable. For those things you can’t change, write them down, acknowledge them but also repeat to yourself that you cannot change it therefore it is no longer worth your time worrying about.
2. Talk about how you feel with people who make you feel safe
Don’t be afraid to talk about how you’re feeling or what is going through your mind. There will be good and bad days during this process of developing self-love so for those days when you’re not feeling so loving towards yourself, talk to those who love you, they will encourage you to keep going.
3. Don’t punish your body but instead reward it for good behaviour
For those with an unhealthy love hate relationship with food like I do, it’s easy to fall ‘off the wagon’ and go through binges because you feel bad about yourself. Then to react to this by refusing yourself food later as a punishment. This is unhealthy and unkind behaviour to yourself and will only encourage you to keep repeating it. When you do something unhealthy, you should instead take note of this ‘bad behaviour’ and tell yourself you won’t do it again (though you might! It’s better to manifest your intentions). Remind yourself of why you’re on this journey in the first place and counteract the bad behaviour with something healthy like a brisk walk. Then reward this good behaviour with more good behaviour but also positive reinforcement.
4. Give yourself time to develop body positivity
Remember that it takes time to develop healthy habits and that includes your thoughts and feelings. Much like when you break a bone, you will need to give yourself time to heal. Allow yourself some setbacks but always ensure you get right back to doing developing your body positivity. Remember everyday is a new day, and a new opportunity to share with yourself some positive affirmations and reminders of why you’re on this journey in the first place. It takes time but slow and steady progress will get you to your destination.
These aren’t miracle cures, a lot of what you’ll discover in learning to love yourself is that it comes from within you. That sometimes it means shutting out a lot of the outside noise and opinion in order to give yourself the peace you need to love yourself more.
It takes time, you’re still healing so don’t be so hard on yourself. And above all else, just be good to yourself, your body has been and will go through a lot, so just remember to be extra kind to yourself once in a while.
This Can Happen Ambassador
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