Damn. I finally sat down to watch Embrace: The Body Image Documentary, been meaning to for months and it was so, so good.
It’s a documentary by a beautiful Australian named Taryn Brumfitt, in which she travels around the globe to explore the crisis of body image in our culture.
Yes, I said crisis, because that’s truly what it is.
The movie explores why so many of us hate our bodies and what we can do about it.
I mean, don’t you wish you were one of those woman who could just be over it and decide to like your body just as it is today? Not once you have a thigh gap, or a Kardashian ass, or perkier boobs, or have lost twenty pounds, but right now?
Can you imagine how freeing that would be? How much time and energy and confidence we’d reclaim if we decided that we were enough just as we are? It’s a radical shift but, what if our bodies needed no fixing at all?
Such a foreign concept.
But why is that? Why are we all so adamant about hating our bodies?
There’s a simple answer to this seemingly complicated question: we hate our bodies because our culture teaches us to hate our bodies.
“Societal values and ideals are driven by media, and media is driven by money and advertising.” – Body Lovin’ Guide
We don’t look like the models on the side of the bus, the actors in the movies, the woman on the billboards. We don’t even look like that freaking Snow White cartoon character.
Our thighs touch, we have cellulite, boobs, acne and frizzy hair (or is that just me?). We simply do not look the way we’re taught that an attractive woman should look. And being attractive, we’re also taught, is the most important thing a woman can be.
We’re bombarded with this messaging all day, every day, from the moment we’re born.
It’s awful. And it’s important to call bullshit, because when you hate your body, it eats away at every aspect of your life – your confidence, your happiness and your ability to love yourself.
And the real bitch of it is, those of us with poor body image are more likely to diet and therefore, more likely to gain weight, than those of us with positive body image.
Isn’t that the meanest thing you’ve ever heard?!
But fear not, friend. There is hope.
A major takeaway from this movie that I think we can all benefit from is something I learned while scraping and clawing my way out of my own body image crisis about 10 years ago.
Something counterintuitive to the way we go about ‘fixing’ our self-loathing.
We think if we can just lose weight, then our body image will improve and we’ll be happier.
But, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
In fact, the exact opposite is true.
Once we learn to embrace our bodies (see what I did there?), then we’re intrinsically motivated to care for ourselves better, and we start to see positive change.
Now, you might be thinking: But how do I even do that, Dana?
Well, learning to love ourselves begins with our self-talk. That’s the root of all of this. We think that berating ourselves and calling ourselves fat is going to motivate us to lose weight, but it won’t. That is simply not how it works.
Negative self-talk is demotivating and actually causes self-destructive behavior instead. Read what Dr. Emma Johnston, clinical psychologist and body image specialist for The Body Image Movement, has to say about this:
“It is a myth that negative self-talk motivates change behaviors. Punishment does not motivate and so negative and punitive self-talk does not encourage us to engage in more positive health behaviors. Loving and respecting our body assists us in being motivated to look after our body by listening to its cues. Clinical experience and reflecting on the available psychological literature clearly indicates to me that self-hatred and self-criticism tend to lead to destructive behaviors.”
I learned this during my time at Institute for Integrative Nutrition. It was my very first step toward healing my body and my body image. After changing my self-talk I went on to lose 30 lbs, drop my food obsession, quit dieting and start feeling confident in my own skin again. It was the most freeing thing I’ve ever done for myself.
And you can do this too.
The first step toward healing your body image is to stop talking shit about yourself.
Do not call yourself fat. Do not put yourself down. Do not berate yourself. You are no longer allowed to do any of that.
- First, you stop allowing yourself to say mean things about your body.
- Then, you stop allowing yourself to even think them.
- You replace those nasty words and thoughts with positive words and thoughts and you start to feel better.
- And when you start to feel better, you start to take better care of yourself.
- When you take better care of yourself, your body naturally finds its ideal weight.
Another good rule of thumb here is to share this idea with your friends and hold each other accountable. Don’t let them put themselves down in front of you and ask them to do the same. Because this shit is contagious, friend. And only we can stop the spread.
You cannot hate your way into a body that you love. Sorry. You’re just gonna have to go ahead and love yourself first. And it starts with being nice and talking to yourself as you would talk to a friend or a little girl.
We have to take the radical step of embracing our bodies first, loving and accepting ourselves just as we are. Otherwise, we’ll always stay stuck in a body we hate, regardless of our size.
And if you’d like to stop dieting and start feeling good, give The Simple Cleanse a try.