Body Shaming Has Gotten Us Nowhere

Body shaming is all around us. While it has gotten somewhat better thanks to celebrities speaking out against body shaming practices, it is still very much alive. Sit in a group of women and if it doesn’t start right away, eventually the conversation will turn to what they are doing to change their weight. Sadly, it starts very young. We begin to internalize body image based on media and messages from the people around us by about age 4 or 5. By age 10, 80% of girls fear being fat and attempt a diet. The level of body dissatisfaction just goes down from there. I find this heartbreaking! So many women walk through life shaming their body in subtle and unconscious ways. Whether it is shuddering and beating yourself up as you walk past a mirrored building and see your reflection or pinch your stomach to see how much is there or comparing yourself to someone else to see if they are bigger or smaller than you, you are shaming yourself. Most people don’t see it that way. I wish they would. The reality is that the more shame we carry, the worse we feel and the worse we treat our body. Over the years, I have worked with many clients who view their behavior with food as “good” or “bad”. By extension, we become good or bad. More shame. I have asked them why they do it and overwhelmingly, the response is that they worry if they stop seeing themselves and food this way, they will just completely go off the deep end with food and weight. Let me tell you, this is not an effective strategy. When was the last time shaming actually helped you lose weight or made you feel like you didn’t want to eat that third donut? Shame drives us further into the patterns we are trying to avoid. If we have already “failed”, what is one more cookie or bowl of ice cream? Instead, focus on nurturing and self-love. Focus is reality. It is like water and sunlight. What we focus on will grow. If we focus on all of the ways we aren’t measuring up (shame), this is what will grow. We will feel more and more shameful. If we focus on nurturing ourselves and treating our bodies with the respect they deserve, this is what will grow. I love this quote by William Wordsworth…”Our mind is a garden, our thoughts are seeds. Would you rather grow flowers or weeds.” You can keep doing what you are doing which isn’t working or you can choose a different path. I will assure you that loving your body will get you much further than hating it ever has.

Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis has a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Weber State University and a Master's degree in Social Work from the University of Utah. She has been working in the mental health field since 2001.
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