Let’s imagine you and I are sitting face-to-face right now, no-one else is there, and I ask you to give me one word to describe your body… what would you say?
I mean, the very first thing that pops into your mind.
Perhaps you might say ‘imperfect,’ ‘fat,’ ‘frumpy,’ ‘wobbly,’ or even ‘disgusting.’
This word may even roll off your tongue with ease, because you’ve become so conditioned to hearing it inside your own head you wouldn’t have to think very hard to come up with it.
As women, the relationship we have with our bodies is dysfunctional at best.
But, in case you didn’t already know, it is not ‘normal’ to hate your body, although you’d be forgiven for thinking it was, listening to women talk about themselves (and others) these days.
As someone in the ‘business’ of helping others improve their bodies, I am acutely aware of the pressure to look a certain way.
I mean, would you really trust what I said if I was overweight myself?? I doubt most would, and I totally get that.
However, while I encourage people to be healthier, it’s never about finding happiness in the perfect body.
If that is your motivation, it’s very likely you will be severely disappointed when you reach that state you’ve deemed to be ‘perfection.’
I’m all about striving to be the healthiest version of ourselves. Absolutely I am! But please understand this is not the same as trying to become model thin, or obtain a thigh gap, or any other such thinspo nonsense!
Stop Comparing Yourself
I believe one of the biggest sources of the discontentment women have with their bodies, is the constant comparison with others.
We compare ourselves to our friends. To supermodels and movie stars. To the women walking down the street who is a complete stranger. We even compare ourselves to the 19-year-old version of ourselves.
And, it’s not just our bodies we are constantly comparing either.
It’s what we eat, what clothes we wear, what our kids look like, and what our homes are like, to name a few
This comparison is incessant, and completely ridiculous.
Talk about putting pressure on ourselves.
Theodore Roosevelt said,
“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
Were truer words ever spoken on this topic???
The only way to stop this crushing and deeply destructive behavior is to learn how to be content with such things as ye have (Hebrews 13:5 KJV).
So, how about we just love the life and body we’ve been given for once?
Please understand, I am not for one moment suggesting this is an easy feat.
If it were, millions of women (and men) would not be enslaved to body image issues every second of every day.
But do believe me when I say, it is possible to find a balance that isn’t destructive.
You Are a Role Model
Whether you like it or not, you are a role model to those around you.
So, stop and access that influence right now… are you having a good influence, or a not-so-good influence?
Think about your children, maybe nieces and nephews, even grandchildren and ask yourself,
“How am I going to teach those influential little people in my life to have a positive body image, if I can’t do the same?”
Perhaps the good influence you can have appears very small, but it is still worthwhile.
Please don’t leave it to someone else… it really does start with you.
The following video may seem hypocritical to some, coming from a beauty company. I don’t care where it comes from, the message is powerful and we need to grasp it…
In short, talk to your children before the beauty industry does!
Challenge the ‘Meaning’
If you are striving to be fit and healthy, there is certainly a need to check yourself and make sure you have the balance right.
In truth, I have absolutely no problem with people wanting to improve their body in some way.
In fact, if you want to be a bodybuilder, fine.
If you want to be the next Jessica Ennis, fine too.
If you want to stay exactly the way you are, also fine.
What is not fine is the mindset that says, I won’t ever be happy unless I achieve supermodel thin. Or, until I have a six pack. Or, until I achieve whatever I deem to be the ‘perfect’ body.
That is not okay!
So, if you’ve fallen into this trap, what should you do?
Well, it starts with your own belief system about your body — you need to challenge the ‘meaning’ you give to what you weigh, and how you look.
Start by getting your focus off achieving an ideal number on your bathroom scales, and instead focusing on the quality of your meals, and the enjoyment you get from movement.
Of course to do that, you can’t be starving yourself and living on lettuce leaves. Nor can you be slogging away with a fitness program which you absolutely hate, but that’s really a topic for another day.
You don’t need to get complicated either, just start making healthier choices to ‘feel better,’ rather than fitting into a size zero dress.
Ultimately, this shift in mindset will help free you from a life of comparison, deprivation and torture… if you let it!
Remember, you can be the change you want to see in the world… but you must begin today!