When it came to body image, MY motto used to be, “If I can pinch it, it jiggles, or there’s a crease… I’m too big or it’s getting covered up, and covered up QUICK!”
As a teenager, I dealt with depression and anxiety due to unhealthy relationships present in my life and the added stress of moving to a new home 3 states away from where I grew up. I lost 25 pounds within six months before our family moved. My mind was filled with so many anxious thoughts and I did not lean into health coping skills at that time. However, I wasn’t alone in my struggle. According to one study, 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies and resort to dieting, and only 5% of women naturally have the body type often portrayed in American media.
I still purposefully avoid eye contact with the photoshopped icons of perfection on covers of pop culture magazines as I wait in checkout lines. I don’t even want the temptation to start walking down Comparison Avenue again. We just can’t seem to avoid these images. A plethora of fitness and health products flood our newsfeeds and beckon us to “try the newest weight loss plan”. We can also easily fall victim to sizing up our own beauty or weight to our friends on social media. The key is to remember this: filters are false. Beauty filters on several apps often change the size of your eyes, smoothness of your skin, or the contours of your face to make you feel more beautiful. If this wasn’t extremely addicting, why do so many of us use them when we post selfies and update our profile pics?
Where modern culture and medicine can’t provide ways to remove or cover up our “imperfections”, photo filters try to give us a temporary solution. I am by no means shaming anyone who is interested in cosmetic surgery or products to fight the aging process. I do, however, want to challenge each of us to learn to love who we are in this moment… sweats, no makeup, bed head and all… to love the skin we’re in!
According to verywellmind.com, body positivity can mean:
- Appreciating your body in spite of flaws
- Feeling confident about your body
- Loving yourself
- Accepting your body’s shape and size
**Body positivity also means enjoying the body you have and not beating yourself up over changes that happen naturally due to aging, pregnancy, or lifestyle choices.  [Can I get an Amen?]
I had my first child at a young age and was able to return close to my pre-pregnancy weight fairly quickly. However, 10 years later… when I had my second child, my body didn’t bounce back the way I wanted it to. I walked away with a roadmap of stretchmarks around my middle and legs. I just felt like I looked “worn out”. Today, multiple worry lines in my forehead and under my eyes still exist.
But you know what? I’m okay with it now.
I now view those marks on my body as signs from a time when I held a little human safe and nurtured it into this world we live in. Sometimes, stretch marks and increased post-partum weight gain comes with life, but it doesn’t make me less beautiful or worthy of love.
Body shaming is a form of abuse a partner uses in attempt to control the amount of food consumed (or left uneaten) in order to change the other’s appearance. This form of manipulation can sit at the back of our mind long after a relationship ends if a new pattern of body positivity is not developed. Depression, low self-esteem and eating disorders often come along with an unhealthy view of body image. Learning to love yourself after a toxic or abusive relationship often takes time and support from others who believe in your success. You may consider adopting a new perspective during your healing process that could include the following lifestyle changes:
- Eating a balanced diet
- Choosing to become active for at least 30 minutes every day
- Staying away from extreme dieting behaviors
- Setting healthy lifestyle goals that support self-care strategies
- Associating with others who encourage you in your goals and speak life into you
- Learning to love yourself, just the way you are
Whether it’s body shaming, manipulation or physical abuse, it’s never too late to get help. If you or someone you know has been affected by relationship abuse, call our 24/7 help line at 601.693.4673 today.
1Palmer, Mario. "5 Facts About Body Image." Amplify. Accessed February 24, 2014, http://amplifyyourvoice.org/u/marioapalmer/2013/05/21/byob-be-your-own-beautiful.
2Want to dive deeper into this topic? Check out this link on Body Positivity
Read more about how to love your unique self at The Body Positive
#carelodgems #bodyimage #toofat #tooskinny #justright
Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash