I used to think that the only way for me to be happy and at peace was to make my body look a certain way.
But no matter what I did, the icky feelings I was trying to avoid by changing my body weren’t going away.
And that’s because it wasn’t actually about what my body looked like.
And that’s the good news.
Because we all know how much time, money & energy goes into trying to control our body & weight.
It’s exhausting. And often, it’s never enough.
If positive body image really was a function of making our bodies look a certain way then that means we would have to spend the REST OF OUR LIVES fighting against & trying to control our body just to feel okay, because our body will continue to change as we age!
So it’s good news that that’s not what we actually have to do to heal our body image.
And I hope that brings you some sweet relief.
But you might be wondering, well what's the "bad" news?
If changing my body won't heal this, then what will?
Time for some realness:
Hating our body is a defense mechanism we’ve been trained into basically since birth.
Because dieting and body shame is SO normalized (& even encouraged) in our culture, we’re often unaware that we turn to attacking our bodies (and trying to change them through dieting) as a way to comfort ourselves from the pain we experience in life.
Instead of dealing with my fear of not being enough, the heartbreak from loss I experienced or the pain from feeling negated growing up, I just zoomed in on my cellulite and round tummy and made that the problem. I thought that if I just firmed up my butt and got a six pack everything would be okay.
In this way, our bodies become metaphors for everything that’s wrong in our lives,
they become the scapegoat for the real issues.
And instead of feeling & dealing with uncomfortable emotions & situations we attack our body and make that the problem that needs to be fixed.
Hating our body is an avoidance strategy.
Since our culture is cruel and stigmatizing towards fat bodies, it's easier to think we have a weight problem, than address things like feelings of inadequacy, fear, anxiety, loneliness, rejection, shame or guilt.
Whether we're conscious of it or not, we think changing our body will protect us from these uncomfortable emotions, and it gives us a false sense of control over our lives. We've been conditioned to believe: perfect body --> perfect life.
But we all intellectually know that thinness will not protect us from experiencing pain. It's an unavoidable reality of being human.
So the answers to repairing your body image are not on the other side of weight loss, they are on the other side of some tough & confronting questions:
What am I trying to avoid dealing with by fixating on my weight?
What am I distracting myself from by obsessing over my food?
What deeper discomfort is my body hatred a representation of?
And what is it costing me in my life to live in avoidance of what's really going on?
While we all need coping mechanisms in life, I encourage you to find more compassionate, loving and effective ways to deal with pain and discomfort then dieting and hating your body.
When we finally stop making our body the problem, we can get to the root of the issues and truly do the honest work necessary to heal our body image.
Which will change your life.
So it isn't really bad news after all, is it?