Wanna hear some super-depressing statistics on body image? You know, just for fun!
- 81 percent of 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat.
- These 10-year-olds are more afraid of becoming fat than they are of cancer, war or losing both of their parents.
- In a survey of girls 9 and 10-years-old, 40 percent have tried to lose weight.
- 91 percent of women are unhappy with their bodies and resort to dieting.
- And only 5 percent of women naturally possess the body type often portrayed by Americans in the media.
- Oh and just 4 percent of women would call themselves beautiful. Four. Percent.
Not depressed enough yet? Let’s keep going!
Here’s what actually happens to our lives as we go on living with these statistics:
- We develop low self-esteem.
- We’re less successful than we could be.
- We put our lives on hold.
- We establish poor relationships.
- We can become mentally ill.
I know. Holy shit.
I’ve been thinking a lot about body image lately.
As I’ve been working on losing the 40+ pounds I gained while pregnant with Foster, a lot of, shall we say stuff, has come been coming up for me. Stuff I thought I’d conquered long ago.
- The thought “I feel fat” creeping back into my mind here and there lately.
- Mildly dreading having to walk around in a bathing suit this summer.
- Thinking sometimes that because I run a wellness website, sell a cleanse, and have studied nutrition and weight loss for years, that I’m somehow a failure for not having lost the weight right away (or for having gained so much in the first place).
- Wishing I were one of those women who only gained 25 lbs while pregnant (even though I’m starting to think they might be an urban legend).
- Feeling self-conscious of the cellulite on my thighs now that it’s shorts season.
- Dressing to hide my body.
- Feeling ashamed of how I look in pictures.
- Wishing Joel would not post said pictures of me on Instagram.
- Wondering if Joel is still as attracted to me.
Can you relate to any of these? I feel a bit like that naked-in the-halls-of-high-school nightmare right now having shared that list. But I know I’m not alone in this, so screw it.
Feeling like this recently is why I’m so glad I found my way to Jes’ book.
[The Author’s Bio from her website, The Militant Baker
Jes Baker is a A blogger, speaker, author, former mental health professional, cat lover, ALL CAPS user and unabashed fat chick. She’s on a mission to turn our society’s concept of beauty on its oppressive head.]
This book is brilliant. It’s everything that needs to be said but isn’t. And It’s not just for women who consider themselves fat, either.
This book is for all women.
Here are some of my biggest takeaways, they had me nodding along and feeling like…
Why Body Image is so Important
- We can lose all the weight we want but, if we don’t work on our body image, we won’t be any happier when we’re thinner.
- We can change our body image for the better and be happier as a result.
- Our size is irrelevant to our ability to find fulfillment, purpose, love, and a sense of worthiness in life. When we embrace body love, we find considerably more of all of this.
Why Waiting on the Weight Doesn’t Work
- One of the traps we fall into as humans is when we decide to we’re going to do something (start dating, find a new job, go to the gym, buy new clothes, travel) after we lose x number of pounds.
- Your life is not going to become happier, more amazing or more successful after you lose those 10 pounds. Or 20 pounds. Or 50 pounds. Because the pounds aren’t really the issue. Your state of mind is the issue.
- Happiness is not a size. Happiness is a state of being. It’s about finding what we love about ourselves and sharing it. It’s about taking what we hate about ourselves and learning to love it. It’s an inner sanctuary where we are enough just as we are right now.
We Hate Our Bodies Because We’ve Been Taught to Hate Our Bodies
- Bullshit marketing plans have trained people to hate themselves, live restricted lives based on an impossible-to-obtain ideal, and kill themselves trying to reach it.
- We’ve been sold on thinness, beauty, youth, and more recently, health and wellness.
- It’s not the individual actions, but rather the pattern of obsession and the inability to function that becomes concerning. And understandably, extreme behaviors are easy to adopt when we fully believe that our value, worth and right to exist relies on how beautiful, thin, young, or healthy we are.
- The most important thing is that we know how these beauty standards came about. They were created by wealthy men in smoke-filled rooms more than 50 years ago.
- Our hatred of our bodies is learned. We’ve come to hate ourselves for not living up to an altered, unrealistic ideal that is literally impossible to achieve.
Our Obsession with Healthy is Our Obsession with Thin & Beautiful with New Branding
- Whether or not we’re healthy is not what matters when it comes to body image. What matters is that we understand that our deservingness of love and happiness does not rely on it. Just by being who we are, we deserve to love and respect ourselves and to be happy, whether we’re healthy or not.
- Fat doesn’t necessarily mean unhealthy and thin doesn’t necessarily mean healthy anyway.
- We’ve been fooled into feeling like we’re reclaiming power by saying don’t worry about your size, only your health! But really, what we’re doing is taking the same exact process of body oppression and giving it a new name. Our diet industry has become a lifestyle change industry. Same concept. Same strategy. Same outcome. Different mask. Hallelujah and praise the Kale.
It’s Okay to Have Days When You Don’t Love Yourself
- After a lifetime of learning and internalizing that we’re not okay, that our bodies are not okay. After a quarter century of self-hate and brainwashing, we’re not going to just suddenly love our cellulite. We’re probably not going to prance around in a bikini or start posting nude selfies and truly be at peace with ourselves, reaping all of the benefits that come with doing so. And that’s okay.
- It’s not about how we look. It’s about how we feel about ourselves. And it’s okay if sometimes you don’t feel very good about yourself. Improving our body image is a process that takes a lot of unlearning and happens over time.
- Let’s not pile shame of our self-loathing on top of our self-loathing. The latter is painful enough.
Loving Ourselves Is Worth Fighting For and It Can Change The World
- If we were to embrace our bodies, we’d shrug off the ridiculous standards that are made up to hurt us, flip the bird at every billboard, take care of our brains, ask for help, treat our bodies with kindness, take pictures of ourselves, walk without apologizing, eat that motherfucking tiramisu, wear that shirt we love, kiss that person we like, get that job we know we’d be good at, try that new position in bed, teach our kids some kindness, tell ourselves we’re amazing every day before we walk out the door. And all of that sounds amazing.
- If we were all to embrace the concept of body love – every single one of us – we would be breathing life into our communities on a monumental level, and our world would shift into a more copacetic and compassionate place.
The First Step Toward Accepting Your Body
My final takeaway, and the one I believe is most important, is something I’ve written about here on the blog before. It’s the very first step to loving and accepting our bodies: we have to take control of our thoughts.
Jes suggests starting to use affirmations in order to rewire our brains. Beliefs are just thoughts we think over and over until we accept them as truth. And we can change our beliefs by changing our thoughts. Affirmations are a good way to get started.
Catch yourself thinking nasty thoughts like “I’m fat” and shift them to “I’m beautiful”, even if you don’t believe them just yet. Honestly, you probably won’t. But it’s a fake it ‘till ya make it situation, friend. We have to start somewhere, and that somewhere is in our own heads. Start treating yourself better inside of your own head and see how much better you start to feel.
At the end of the day, we cannot hate our way into a body that we love, no matter how much we physically change it. We have to start with our state of mind.
Honestly, this book is pure gold. I will again, strongly suggest that you do yourself a favor and read it. I’m going to dive in for a second read after writing this. With some of the nasty thought patterns I overcame years ago resurfacing recently, I could definitely use a refresher course on cleaning up my own mind as well.
Improving my own body image was one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. Letting go of body hatred has had the single, biggest impact on my health and happiness, of any change I’ve ever made.
Body hate is a serious issue that affects all of us women on some level (and a ton of men too, but that’s a topic for another day.) The best chance we have at overcoming the enormous challenge of accepting our bodies and believing that we are deserving of all the good things in life, regardless of what we look like, is to make a point of working on it. It starts with reading important books like this and making a commitment to put in the work, one day at a time.
What do you think? Any of this triggering you? Can you relate to any of it today? What have you been doing to try to overcome your body hate? Leave a comment below, we would LOVE to talk about this with you!