Over the past years, “body-shaming” has become a hot topic, not just online but in everyday life. Unfortunately, body-shaming can happen to almost anyone — regardless of gender, ethnicity, social class, or age. Celebrities, pregnant women, thin people, curvy people, fit people, athletic people, young people, old people — the list of who’s become a target for body-shaming is endless. We also have a tendency to talk negatively about our own bodies, not only to one another, but to ourselves. As a culture, we’ve become obsessed about body size, shape, and weight.
What is body-shaming?
- Inappropriate negative statements and attitudes about another person’s or your own weight or size.
- Criticizing yourself or others because of physical appearance
Body-shaming can manifest itself in a variety of ways, but usually it will usually appear as:
- Self-criticism of yourself and your appearance through comparison to another person.
- Criticizing another person in front of them.
- Criticizing others behind their back.
Examples of body-shaming:
- Look at my ____ (body part).
- I can’t wear that… because ____ (reason)!
- I am such a “insert negative feeling” for eating that.
- You shouldn’t wear that because of the way you look.
- You’re so thin that you look like a skeleton.
- You’re the kind of person who needs to exercise.
- Did you see what she’s wearing today? (said in a negative tone)
Regardless of how or why body-shaming happens, it most often will lead to comparison and shame, reinforcing the idea that outward appearances are essential for human worth and love. The result — an unhealthy relationship with food, exercise, and especially an unhealthy relationship with yourself. This just continues the cycle of shame, comparison, and never feeling like you’re “good enough”.
This month, I challenge you to become more aware of your relationship with body-shaming. Is this something you do on a regular basis? Is this a way you cope with being uncomfortable in new situations? Do you surround yourself with people who are body-shamers? What can you do to reduce and eliminate body-shaming?
Remove the Body Shame
Stop commenting on other people’s body shape and size. Find something else to talk about. End of story.
Enough with the negative thoughts and words. Instead of criticizing yourself, come up with ideas on how you’re going to move forward on your journey. For example, when you’re buying a dress and have tried it on, only to find it’s too tight, say to yourself, ‘I’ll get the larger size so it hangs better” rather than saying “My legs are so big and I’m so fat.” Acknowledge not being comfortable and embrace your body and self for who you are and where you are on your journey. All bodies fit.
Fuel your body with foods that empower you to live mindfully. Choose foods that make you feel good, energizing you to live the way you want. Keeping a food and symptom journal and working with a dietitian can help you identify what foods work well for your body, helping you achieve your goals.
Appreciate your body with a neutral approach. Instead of focusing energy on what your body is not, try to think of your body as a vehicle for your life– and that’s it! This simple shift into “neutrality” can make a big difference in the way you perceive yourself and your capabilities. In time, self-love and appreciation will in return result in a healthier body and mind.
Recognize that negative self-talk and body-shaming are not productive. Negative self-talk and body-bashing only sinks you into a deeper depression, leading to a cycle of self-loathing, emotional eating, and more body-bashing.
Practice self-love. Practicing self love means practicing self care. Nourish yourself with good food, movement, hydration, and rest. Remember to lift yourself and others up with positive words, thoughts, and actions.
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Jennifer is a Registered Dietitian and the owner of Eat With Knowledge in Nyack, NY. She is on a mission to help people heal from diets, and find peace and balance with their food choices. She leads a team of dietitians who support the philosophy, “Feel Fabulous about Food!”
Start your own healing by downloading her Free Stop the Cycle of Binge Eating guide or her Free Hunger – Fullness Scale.