How many of these behaviours do you find yourself repeating?
Do you turn away from yourself when you see your reflection in the mirror? Have you been known to join in a conversation that focuses on how much weight you’ve gained (or lost), or what you look like in some way? Have you ever held back because of the way you perceive yourself to look? Or, maybe you just can’t accept compliments and find it difficult to say positive and loving things to yourself?
Body-shaming can often go unnoticed and unchallenged because it has become an automatic way of thinking within our society. We have become so used to seeing the body as something that is revered for how it looks rather than the wisdom, health, joy, and experiences that it gives us, that we are often guilty of being a body shamer, either with ourselves or with others. This has led many people to accept the unacceptable and believe that it is okay to judge, criticise and comment on our own bodies and others, and leads to low body-confidence.
Five body-shaming behaviours and their antidotes
1. Avoiding looking at yourself in the mirror
This might not intially seem like body-shaming behaviour. However, it reveals a feeling of not being comfortable about your body, therefore not wanting to look at yourself. This can be a tough one because people are often unaware they are doing it. Begin to change this by deciding to spend just 30 seconds longer with yourself when you see your reflection, and say quietly in your mind: “I am willing to be with me a little more today.”
2. Praising weight loss or weight gain
Either way, it's not up to us to comment on anyone else’s body. We have no idea of what someone may be going through or what they are feeling about their body. Decide that you will find other things to compliment someone on rather than their weight. Focus on how wonderful their energy is, how they make you feel, what they do really well, the difference they make in your life. This also applies to YOU!
3. Assuming health based on body type
Whenever we engage in body stereotypes, we miss the person. Any time we make an assumption about someone because of their size, we reduce them to a one-dimensional object and not a vibrant, wonderful person who has the potential to be healthy, fit, gorgeous, fabulous and anything they desire. Again, this applies to how you treat yourself. Learning the facts about health, exercise, and nutrition – perhaps with the help of a professional – can empower you to feel in control of your health.
4. Ghosting your own body
Ghosting is a term most commonly used when someone you are dating ends the relationship without any explanation. Given that the longest relationship that any of us will ever have is the one with our bodies, you may be “ghosting” your own body without even realising it. Ask yourself the following questions:
- a) Do you check in with your body every day to see how it feels?
- b) Do you speak to your body kindly, lovingly, and with acceptance?
- c) Do you show up for your body by taking great care of it?
- d) Do you ever ignore what your body is telling you by refusing to listen to what it needs?
Notice where you may be unavailable for your body or have neglected it completely. Begin to reconnect with your body by listening to what it needs. Check-in with how your body feels every day and forge a fabulous relationship by really showing up for you and your amazing body.
5. Closing down your body expression
For example, crossing your arms over your belly or continually pulling your skirt over your hips or hugging your jacket around you to cover up your body. When we feel uncomfortable in our body, we often seek to hide or minimise it. The subtle message is that we are not happy with how we look or are ashamed by our appearance in some way.
Choose clothes that make you feel gorgeous and that you can be your authentic self in. Throw out the clothes that feel too uncomfortable. Refuse to wear something for the sake of being fashionable or fitting in, and blaze ahead with your own style that simply rocks your body confidence!
Astrid Longhurst is a life and body confidence expert, coach and author of 'Romancing your body: How to fall deeply, passionately and wildly in love with your body and your life!'
Find a professional with counselling-directory.org.uk