How to Counteract Body Shame

07.20.19.png

Growing up, my body was always up for discussion — how much I weighed, whether or not I shaved my body hair, whether or not I had blemishes, how I dressed my body, how ‘athletic’ I was, how I moved & carried myself... I learned, implicitly & explicitly, that it’s important to have a ‘good’ body, and that my worth depends on appearing attractive to others.

But this ‘good’ body I was ‘supposed to’ have always seemed elusive — impossible to achieve and ever-changing. And, as a result, I was constantly looking to others for validation & fulfillment, and always felt not-quite-good-enough. I’ve spent years undoing this tangled web of body shame, and I’ll likely be picking away at it for years to come. Here’s what I’ve found that helps:

  • Radical Acceptance • I spent years thinking that, if my body were different, then I could be happy. But nothing has brought more-immediate & true happiness than accepting myself exactly as I am — giving myself permission to be however I am right now, without believing it negatively affects my value as a human being.

  • Kind Words • I used to say all sorts of disparaging things about my body. But part of radical acceptance is finding better ways to talk about bodies, so I’m constantly finding new ways of describing my body that express love & admiration. Rather than shaming myself for having ‘rolls’ or ‘flab’, I exalt my softness & my juiciness

  • Context • Being surrounded by people & media that express a narrow view of beauty or assess people’s worth based on appearances makes radical acceptance & kindness really difficult. We can remove this hurdle by surrounding ourselves with people who are open & accepting & loving & kind, and with media that represents all bodies as ‘good’ bodies

  • Self-Care • Loving my body is harder when my body feels like doodoo! So I try to take good care of myself with sleep, food & water, movement, breath, time outdoors, etc.