Body image – we just might all be shallow

When my kids were little and they were snuggling up against me, they’d squeeze my arms and say, “Mommy, your arms are soooooo squishy.”  Now, I don’t know about you, but squishy arms isn’t what women really want to have – or hear that they have.  But in those moments, from my children, it was the BEST thing ever – what could have been a higher compliment?

I don’t remember a more powerful week than this last week at Weight Watchers.  In continuing with the holistic approach, last week’s topic of the week was Body Gratitude.  We discussed the negative things we feel about our bodies, what we say to ourselves, the good things our bodies can do as well as how the way we treat ourselves emotionally can help or hinder our weight loss efforts.

Do you look in the mirror and say wonderful things to yourself?  Do you say anything?  Is there a “when did that wrinkle arrive?” or a “your stomach is dangerously big?” or a “Why do I have such mousy brown hair?” being said or thought?  Or worse?

In my first few meetings of the week I had members put a negative thought about their bodies on paper in a basket and we talked about them – anonymously.  I heard some really hard things.  I heard hate, frustration, and disgust.  I heard “who needs to see THAT?” I heard that their bellies were fat, that their arms were flabby, that their legs rubbed together, that their fat made them ugly, that their legs were bumpy and lumpy.  I heard their tears when the room tried to reframe the negative. In my last meeting of the week, I forgot to have them do that in the beginning.  So impulsively I paired them up.  It’s a smaller, more intimate meeting anyway and I told them to think of the negative thing they say about their bodies and tell their partners that THEY had that.  For instance, if I hate my fat belly, I’d have to tell my partner they had a fat belly.  They all looked at me in horror.  NONE of them would say a word.  Why not?

Because people – and especially my members (I’m very bias!) – are basically really good people with good values.  They wouldn’t insult another human being, even when told to.  So why do we talk so loudly with the negativity to ourselves?  Why are we not apologizing for saying mean things to ourselves when we would apologize for saying those same words to anyone else? Why are we not counted as human beings who deserve respect?  Kindness?  Love?

Do you love your body?  It’s a simple question.  Answer it.  Do you love your body?  Can you say it out loud – “I love my body.”   If the answer is no, why not?  And if the answer is a fat belly or flabby arms or big legs or some such other fat-related item, there’s a problem.  Even if the answer is “I’ll never be thin enough, good enough, small enough” there might be a problem. In discussing this with a dear friend, she came up with the simple brilliance – it’s a shallow way of thinking if we can’t love ourselves because we’re fat or lumpy or have flabby arms.  Do we expect everyone else we love to have perfect bodies?  Do we not love people without perfect bodies?  Do our bodies – the shape, the size, the volume, the genetics – define who we are as people?   If I don’t like myself because my thighs are too big or my tush sticks out too far, how does that not make me a very shallow person?   I have no problem loving anyone whose thighs are too big and their tush sticks out.  Could I have loved my mother more if she were thin? I can’t even imagine her hugs if she were thin, nor do I want to.

I don’t pick those I love based on their body perfection or even their struggle for body perfection.  I can guarantee that the part you hate the most about yourself would be a welcome replacement to someone who doesn’t have what you have.

I asked my members to think and spit out as many GREAT things that THEIR body can do inside a minute.  I could barely keep up with all their wonderful things.   We can do some fantastic things with our bodies.  We’re so lucky! Can we LOVE them now?

When we hate our body we look for ways to punish it. Sometimes that involves food or drugs or a myriad of combinations.   We can be doing well on our weight loss, but we still hate so we need to punish. We don’t look forward to taking care of those we hate or don’t like. But we enjoy taking care of those we love.

Loving your body doesn’t negate that you want to make it better or stronger or healthier.  Loving your body actually makes it easier to make it better and stronger and healthier.  If we start from a place of love rather than a place of hate, the process of changing will be more joyous and less punishing.

Show it some love!


One thought on “Body image – we just might all be shallow

  1. I love this post. A little piece of advice I give my coachees… when you say negative things about yourself, imagine if someone ELSE was saying those things about you… to someone who loves you (your mom, husband, sister, etc.). What would your loved one say? Probably some version of, “shut up, leave her alone, that’s not true, you’re just mean.” Say that to the negative voice!

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