Spring time is rampant with all sorts of "detoxes" and "cleanses" encouraging you to stress out about how your body looks. And, even though I like to think I'm immune to this nonsense, I'm not. Today, I found myself thinking WAAAAAY too much about my belly.
I'm a child of the 90s and during key developmental parts of my life, "midriff tops" were a super big deal. Can you say Hit me baby one more time? I've always been REALLY insecure about my belly.
I wanted to share what really works for me to get out of the body shaming funk so you, too, can stop the cycle:
1. Stop trolling pictures for what sucks and instead see what's cool. Extra credit if you can love something you used to hate.
I read this awesome post from Megan Janye Crabbe on Instagram the other day and it really stuck with me.
Sometimes the thing we think is super ugly on our body is actually pretty cute.
If you can't love your armpit rolls or your squishy belly, then just try to identify things about yourself that you do find beautiful. I like my brown eyes and my tendency to be ridiculous. These are both very visible in the history of photos on social media that I troll when I'm feeling body down.
2. Expose yourself to different bodies so you don't feel obligated to be like a magazine cover in order to be naked.
I've mentioned before that seeing a greater range of body types makes us more comfortable with people who break the media mold.
It's a good idea to start following women who you think are sexy that have "non-traditional" body types. We're fortunate nowadays because women like Lena Dunham (however you feel about her HBO show) make it a priority to show their bodies - bodies that are not what we usually see in the media.
I heard this crazy factoid from Jes Baker of the Militant Baker in her 2014 Ted Talk:
"91% of women are unhappy with their bodies...only 5% of women have the body that we see the media."
This sentence blows my mind. 95% of women do not have the body that we see most of the time in media. That is BANANAS. And yet, that look is the standard of how we expect women to look. No wonder we feel inferior.
Doesn't it feel better knowing that you're part of the 95%? Most women don't look like what we think they should look like.
When I'm feeling really down, I go on Pinterest and create a board to remind me that other women have bellies and they're still totally sexy. They still get laid. They're still successful. Their parents still love them and it's all okay.
Check it out here!
3. Think about all the other awesome things about yourself that have nothing to do with your body.
In Amy Poehler's book, Yes Please, she writes, "Decide what your currency is early. Let go of what you will never have. People who do this are happier and sexier."
The truth is even though I've struggled with body image for much of my life, I had the fortune of having parents who always reminded me that I had value in other ways as well, whether it was because I could swim, play piano, do math, laugh, or make jokes.
The truth about picking beauty or your body as your currency is that one day you will get old and all that work will be undone. So pick something else that will last longer, like photography, writing or architecture.
If you're still feeling crappy....
4. Consider what else might be bothering you.
If I'm having a particularly bad day, I've noticed that this is when bad body image thoughts pop up. For example, if I'm late to work, my boyfriend is fighting with me, and I can't seem to ever get my laundry done, I'll find myself weirdly concerned about how my pants are fitting me that day.
With all the morality tied up in eating, it's really easy for the voice of "I'm not good enough" to become "I feel fat."
Fixating on weight loss is absolutely a coping mechanism. It feels like something we have control over when there's a lot of other chaos in our life that we feel like we can't control.
Weight is not that easily controlled. Spend some time taking care of yourself and coping in whatever healthy way works for you because you had a tough day.
5. Remember that you are good enough already. By already, I mean now. Today.
You are not a worthless human being who doesn't deserve to see the light of day during summer or go to the beach because your BMI is above a 25.
You are still awesome and deserving of love and fun - even if you think you're fat.