changing the body shame conversation

Have you ever been with a group of women and the weight loss and body shame conversation comes up? Or maybe a better question is have you ever been with a group of women where this has NOT come up? If you’re not sure what I’m talking about let me share some common examples that may spark some memories:

“Oh my gosh, I have gained so much weight this week, I really need to get back on that diet.”

“I need to hit the gym tomorrow, I ate so much tonight”

“I hate my thighs, I wish I had skinny thighs like you”

“I wish I could take the fat from my stomach and put it in my boobs”

“yuck, I look so fat and pregnant right now”

“Don’t post that picture, I look so fat”

“Let me stand in the middle for the picture, I always look huge when I stand on the end”

“I’m such a fatty, look at my plate” - (says the girl with 2 baby size portions of food on her plate)

“All my carbs go straight to my butt and thighs, it’s the worst thing ever”

“I need to lose that dang 5 pounds!”

“I’m so weak, I can’t even do 1 push up”

You get the idea. Here’s what I think about this, the “body shame” convos needs to go. In our society it’s become this small talk habit when women get together and it drives me nuts! It’s almost like there’s this mindset that we should always be striving to change something about our body, and heaven forbid you would ever think positively about how you look! 

The sad part is I’m looking at these women who are saying these things and I’m thinking, “you look so amazing!! If you are saying that about your body, how should I be feeling about my own body?” And I’m sure some of you have felt this same way! These comments can be a negative trigger to our own mindset and someone else who is in the conversation. Basically there's NO GOOD that can come from these conversations. 

It seems it’s become an accepted and expected thing to talk down on ourselves, and if we say anything positive about our bodies we may feel cocky and self centered. BUT LET’S CHANGE THIS. No one should ever feel guilty for celebrating their own body and admitting that they feel awesome. And we should NOT feel obligated to join in on the body image pity party. You might ask, How do we change? How does this happen? How can we change this? Here are my thoughts.

  1. First off, Redefine Beauty in our culture. We need to get over this one ideal body shape and accept beauty at all different shapes and sizes. Redefining beauty so that it has nothing to do with a six pack and a thigh gap, but everything to do with the heart of a person.
  2. Be careful where you put your attention and praise. I think part of the reason people feel this pressure to fit into that ideal body shape, is because that’s what’s getting the praise and attention. I’ve totally fallen into this trap before. I saw that all of the most popular fitness accounts on Instagram were the girls showing off their rock hard bodies. Naturally I thought, “well if I show my abs in this picture then people will follow me and I’ll get more positive feedback”. And sure enough, a lot more likes on the ab picture than the picture of me fully clothed in my kitchen. Interesting. Sex sales, but we can change this. 
  3. Change the conversation to a positive one. From my experience, it only takes one body shaming comment to trigger a whole room of women talking about what they don’t like on their bodies. What if we could change the entire conversation by saying one positive comment!? Can’t think of anything? How about trying something like, “I had an awesome breakfast this morning. I woke up early and made an omelette! I feel great” or “I went for a run yesterday and it felt awesome!” or “I bought a new pair of jeans yesterday, and they look pretty dang good! I highly recommend this brand” or “I’m so happy that I’m healthy!” One positive comment can change the direction of an entire conversation. 
  4. Strive for YOUR healthiest self, and don’t compare. I’m not promoting us all to just sit around and be lazy and be happy with the way we look no matter how big or small. I’m suggesting we accept that healthy may look different on everyone. As long as we are fueling our body with lots of good wholesome foods, getting a healthy dose of movement and exercise, getting enough sleep, and all of our organs and hormones are in check, isn’t that healthy? For me, and I would guess for most women, a rippling six pack is not maintainable while keeping my menstrual cycle going. I want to be fertile and stay fertile! If a very important system in your body is having to shut down in order to reach a desired weight or fat percentage, is that really healthy? I’ve learned that it is NOT. Accepting that someone else’s “healthy” may look much different on the outside than ours does is key for self love. If you haven’t accepted this, I encourage you to try now. 

Changing this conversation starts with us. My heart ache’s for the young girls who have to grow up listening to the adult women in their lives complaining about their bodies, and talking about the next diet they're going on. That’s the first trigger. Then it becomes second nature to these girls growing up. If that’s what you hear, than that’s what you start to think. Be a different influence for your daughters. 

My challenge for all of you is to bring some body positivity to the world. Next time you're with your sisters or friends, don’t give in to the body shame talk. Stay positive, love your body for all of the awesome things it can do. Tell other women how awesome they are and how great that dress looks on them. We have to lift each other up to change. 

I would love to start the hashtag #myhealthybodyrocks , so spread the word! Share what your healthy body can do for you and use #myhealthybodyrocks on your instagram stories or your feed. Because your healthy body DOES rock :)