Let’s Talk About Looks
As you know I’ve been working on my post-baby body lately. And I’m not going to lie, I love that the weight is coming off. I think just about every woman likes to feel fit and lean. And I’m getting more fit and lean every day. But I want to address the issue of “body image.” I have noticed, as I’ve been working my butt off doing my exercises, that the more I take care of my body, the more I appreciate her.* I still have a saggy tummy. I’m still in the “overweight” category according to my BMI. And I have stretch marks on my tummy, thighs, breasts and arms. But you know what? When I treat my body like I love her (by exercising and eating real food**) I find that I really do love her. She’s pretty amazing. Not only can she run, jump, swim and dance she made my daughter and continues to be the one and only source of nourishment my daughter needs! That’s pretty freaking awesome!
Of course, I have those
moments days when all I can focus on are the imperfections. It seems supremely unfair. I would never zero in on all of Bear’s faults, or my best friend’s faults and ignore all their awesomeness. So why is it acceptable for me to treat my body that way? It’s not. That’s why I’m making a change.
If you’re a long-time reader, you know the issue of Fat Talk is something I take very seriously. As Jillian Michaels said, “Fat talk is transcending…. It affects your reality and damages you professionally, personally, and physically.”
I’ve posted this video about Fat Talk a few times before, but not recently. If you haven’t watched this before, please do! It’s so powerful and I cry every time:
Here are a few tips for ending Fat Talk:
- Don’t compare your body to others.
- Appreciate your body for what it can do.
- Turn a negative into a positive. Instead of “I’m stocky,” try “I’m strong!”
- Never Fat Talk in front of your kids or friends
This section of the Fat Talk discussion is dedicated to the statement, “I feel so fat.”
How many times have you eaten something and then said, “Ugh. I feel so fat”? This is completely hyperbolic reaction to overindulging. First of all, even skinny women who aren’t “fat’ say it. Secondly, there’s no way one meal or one dessert can suddenly make you “fat.”
So, what do we really mean when we say, “I’m so fat”? We actually mean that we are FULL WITH AN EMOTION. Oftentimes, it’s shame. Or sadness. Or fear. Why do we express our inner turmoil by hating our bodies? Because that’s what Fat Talk and society tells us to do. Don’t admit you’re scared, just feel fat! Don’t admit you’re lonely or depressed, you’re just fat! We can deal with ugliness, we cannot deal with weakness.
The next time you feel the urge to say, “I’m so fat,” think about what you REALLY mean. By berating your body, you aren’t doing any favors. But by honoring your emotions, you’re living a happier, more honest life.
If only one thing about this discussion about Fat Talk resonates with you, remember this: When you feel guilty about food, you are experiencing distorted thinking.
I’m not saying that means you have an eating disorder. I’m just saying that feeling guilty — raw, consuming, upsetting GUILT — is not a normal, healthy reaction to eating and is thus distorted. I think it’s important to recognize when our thinking is distorted, as the way we view ourselves has a big impact on our lot in life.
All women experience guilt with food to some degree. I know I used to feel a really guilty if I drank two beers and ate a few slices of pizza. Or a big dessert. Sometimes, it didn’t even have to be a calorie-heavy meal to trigger the guilt. I’d have a bigger breakfast than normal, and I would fret that I’d “blown it” for the day or that I’d “given into temptation.”
Guilt is internal Fat Talk. It is shaming yourself for not meeting a perfectionist ideal that is unattainable and determined by the rigid standards our society has created! If you wouldn’t say it out loud to a friend, why would you say it to yourself?
Maybe right now you’re thinking: “But a little guilt can be a GOOD thing!” or “Guilt is a normal reaction to indulging!” But, if guilt was healthy or “normal,” it would be PRODUCTIVE and it would make you HAPPY.
Do you find yourself feeling guilty over food a lot? Well, then — you’re repeating the same actions over and over again, and clearly… Guilt isn’t productive, it doesn’t work, and it only serves to lower your self -esteem. Guilt is a waste of time and takes away from productive things you could be doing with your time — meditating, studying, sleeping, calling your friends on the phone, and more.
You aren’t going to gain weight from one dessert.
You aren’t a bad person for enjoying dinner.
You aren’t weak because you were hungrier than normal.
How do you stop guilt? It’s so much harder to stop than Fat Talk — after all, we verbalize Fat Talk to others and it’s easier to “catch” ourselves in conversation. Guilt, on the other hand, is this weird, creeping feeling that takes over you, ruins your day, and triggers the blues.
I would say I cut down on my guilt thinking by about 90%, which I consider to be a big accomplishment. I stopped guilting myself by really thinking about my eating in the grand scheme of life. Did that pizza make me gain weight? No. Did it actually hurt my health in any measurable way that I ate a bunch of French fries? No. Am I an awesome friend and hardworker who is so much more than the food she eats? Of course!
If there is something about your lifestyle that you want to change, be proactive and CHANGE IT. Guilting yourself about it does not work. Taking action to move onwards and upwards does. Every setback is an opportunity to learn, grow, and improve.
Join me on the quest to eliminate Fat Talk in all its nasty and evil forms from our lives! Remember, it starts now… and it starts with you.
And now she has started Operation Beautiful. All you need is post-it notes and a pen. Leave an anonymous message in a a public place (or leave one for yourself at home) to tell somebody that they are beautiful! As women we seem to spend so much time judging ourselves and each other based on how we look. Why not build each other up instead of tearing each other down? Be sure to check out Caitlin’s blog and send in any photos you take of your Operation Beautiful notes! I’ve started by doing something a little different:
I’ve also left one for myself. I’ve put it on the mirror in my awesome, wall-mounted vanity. I figure what better place to have a reminder?
Now that I’m a mom it’s more important than ever for me to end fat talk. The last thing I want to do is find, a few years down the road, that my hang ups have been passed on to my precious Lucy. It would break my heart and be incredibly unjust. Lucy will be bombarded by false ideals of beauty. I refuse to be responsible for adding to those bad influences. I will lead her by example and my example had better be a good one!
That is why I’m changing my language and my focus. I’m not exercising to be thin. I’m exercising to be strong! I’m not eating right to lose weight. I’m eating right to feel healthy!
I’m also trying to accept and honor the changes in my body that have come from being pregnant and giving birth. My body is not bad now. She is just different.
Speaking of different. My body isn’t just different from the way she used to be. She is different from everybody else’s. My body is not like your body. Your body is not like your neighbour’s body. And her body is not like Kate Moss’s body.
We may feel like our bodies are abnormal because so often the only other bodyies we take note of are those plastered on billboards or displayed in magazines. But, as the video above pointed out, most fashion models are thinner than 98% of American woman! 98%!!! Next time you’re tempted to compare your body to that of a model stop. Don’t. Why not check out these sites instead?
The Shape of a Mother: A “website where women of all ages, shapes, sizes and nationalities can share images of their bodies so it will no longer be secret. So we can finally see what women really look like sans airbrushes and plastic surgery.”
007 Breasts: A gallery of normal breasts “in all kinds of sizes and shapes. These breast pictures are here to let you see normal breasts – big, small, sagging, asymmetrical; big areolas or nipples.” NSFW***
Or, better yet, next time you’re tempted to compare your body stop. Don’t. Don’t compare her at all. Your body is one of your best friends. Treat her right and she’ll treat you right too.
Do you fat talk? Are you trying to change? Will you be doing Operation Beautiful? Tell me all about your thoughts on body image. And spread the word!
*I choose to call my body “her” rather than “it” because it’s too easy to criticize an “it.”
**Real food (like fruits and veggies) as opposed to processed junk.
***Not safe for work