Women at War with their Bodies

26 April 2019 | Written by Xenia Ayiotis

Filed Under: Body Acceptance Change

What will it take to end the war with our bodies?

Your body is your shelter. It’s your home for life. A relationship with your body is for life. Yet we look at our bodies as something external often with contempt and blame. Body image work is an essential part of feeling free and peaceful around food. If we weren’t trying to change our bodies we probably wouldn’t have such difficulty with food. What do we have our bodies for? Are they here for others’ visual pleasure or to carry us through life?

“Mr.Duffy lived a short distance from his body.”

— James Joyce —

We don’t hate our bodies when we are born. We learn to hate our bodies. We hear things and see things that condition us and create dissatisfaction with our bodies. Perhaps you were teased at school for being too thin or too fat or too short or too tall, leading to feelings of shame and embarrassment. Maybe you were praised for your body and you felt proud or pressure. Growing up you see others receiving praise and gaining approval for their body and you think if I change my body I will also be admired and accepted. Maybe your mother or sister criticised their body and you adopted their habits. It is part of what you do together. You look at images in the media and those bodies don’t look like yours, so you immediately think that there is something wrong with your body.

Here are some ways that you can stop the war with your body.

Stop dieting and restricting food.

Stop the pursuit of weight loss. More on these topics here and here. Feed your body adequately and nourish it with foods you love and your body loves. Reconnect to your body by moving in a way that feels enjoyable and sustainable.

Body Talk

Start becoming aware of how you talk about your body – are you critical of it? Do you blame your body? Do you use hateful speech?

Change your language. It doesn’t have to be loving (yet) it can be neutral. Can you at least stop the hate, the judgement and criticism? It may help to shift your focus from how your body looks to what your body does for you. Recognise that your body works hard all day and all night to keep you alive.

Social Media

Be selective about who you follow. Start following people who promote body diversity and body positivity. Stop following weight loss sites.

“There’s no amount of self improvement that can make up for a lack of self acceptance.”

— Robert Holden —

Appearance praise

Stop complimenting others on their appearance and especially weight loss. You just don’t know how they lost the weight. On the other hand if they lost the weight through dieting, chances are that they will regain it and with that will come feelings of shame and self-blame plus the desire to retreat. Rather give character-based compliments, acknowledging something special about who they are or what they do – “You’re such a good listener” or “You light up the room”. Let’s stop giving appearance so much value.

Acceptance of your body

Very often acceptance is misunderstood for resignation or “giving up”. However we need to accept that focusing on a number on the scale does not work. So if not weight, then what? Taking care of your “here and now” body. Looking at nurturing outcomes that are not about changing your body. Judging your body doesn’t help you look after it. With every act of self-care you are telling yourself you matter and body size has nothing to do with it! Think about moving and stretching, improving sleep, resting, drinking more water or managing stress.

“Accepting yourself isn’t about giving up or settling, throwing in the towel. NO. Accepting yourself is about having your own back and never abandoning yourself. Accepting yourself is about honouring yourself right now, here today, in this moment. Not just who you could become somewhere down the line.”

— Kris Carr —

Practice Self- Compassion

Healing a negative body image requires kindness and patience. Most women struggle with negative body image, we are in this together and we can help heal together.

As Marci Evans says:

“With body image healing there is no right or “wrong” way to feel about your body because healing isn’t about eradicating negativity.”

It’s okay not to love your body. Can you learn to respect it and care for it?

“Compassion isn’t some kind of self-improvement project or ideal that we’re trying to live up to. Having compassion starts and ends with having compassion for all those unwanted parts of ourselves, all those imperfections that we don’t even want to look at.”

— Pema Chodron —

Body acceptance is not easy. It’s normal to find it difficult. Changing from a place of hate to acceptance requires us to let go of ingrained beliefs. Be patient with yourself as you practice healing your body image.

May you find the courage to accept your body
May you learn to care for your body with joy
May you find peace living in your body

Love,
Xen.

Tired of overeating and feeling out of control around food? Dieting and restriction hasn’t worked for you? Ready to end the war with your body?

I can help you find peace and freedom around food, eating and your body:

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