With summer fast approaching, you’ve probably noticed local retailers’ displays of bathing suits and brightly colored warm-weather clothing. Does walking past a table of tank tops fill you with dread? Do you go to the dark place where thoughts like “I’ve really got to get these jiggly arms toned up” live? These kinds of thoughts and/or self-talk are considered ‘body shaming’. According to Hannah Blum (2016), “body shaming consists of criticizing our own bodies and/or criticizing the bodies of others.” I think it is safe to say that this practice is never helpful. Simply put, people are not motivated to take care of things that they dislike and our bodies are no exception. If you look at your body with critical eyes and see only flaws, you are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors such as poor diet/nutrition and harmful activity levels. In addition to physical consequences, you are at a higher risk of suffering from low self-esteem and depression (Roberts, 2016). Seeing your body with compassion and gratitude for everything it does for you is the key to self-love and acceptance.
I realize this is not an easy task. Every trip to Target is made complete when you walk to the check-out, past magazines covered in airbrushed beauties and slogans like “how to get that beach bod”. We are constantly reminded of our imperfections. I know that there is very real pressure to try to reach impossible body goals that can be borderline dangerous. I also know that pouring energy into the pursuit of something like wearing a certain size of pants is a waste. Your time and energy is so precious; why spend it worrying about what the label in your jeans says?
If I could wish anything for those in my life, it would be that they love themselves and feel proud of the skin they are in. Psychotherapist Emily Roberts, in her article “15 Ways to Break Up With Your Body Image Issues”, recommends a daily practice of thinking of ways that your body is capable and something to be proud of and grateful for (2016). I would strongly encourage reading through her list of questions; it is uplifting to think about the many ways your body is amazing.
Written by Alexis Anttila, MA, LAMFT
Blum, H. (2016, August 17). Weighing in on body shaming and its effect on mental health. HealthyPlace. http://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/mentalhealthforthedigitalgeneration/2016/08/weighingin-on-body-shaming-and-its-effect-on-mental-health/
Roberts, E. (2016, May 13). 15 Ways to break up with your body image issues. HealthyPlace. http://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/buildingselfesteem/2016/05/15-ways-to-break-up-with-your-bodyimage-issues/
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