Imagine being proud of your belly, sticking it out and walking around naked, like you just don’t care. If you have ever been around a three or four year old, this is how they are. They are so proud of what their body can do because it is all so new to them. My daughter loves looking at herself in the mirror and really has no qualms about touching and being curious about her body.
As we get older, children, especially girls start to feel uncomfortable in their bodies. A lot of it has to do with our culture around sex and some of it has to do with body changes that come along with puberty. These factors can cause body shaming. Instead of helping young girls embrace their changing body, we shame them. Our society tells girls to cover up and hide their bodies and then we become obsessed with our bodies and then diet culture tells women and girls that their worth is tied to how they look and they need to be “skinny” and look a certain way to appeal to boys and men. This is harmful in so many ways and creates disordered eating, which can range from overeating to binge eating or under eating. According to the Boston Medical Center, an estimated 45 million Americans go on a diet each year and spend $33 billion each year on weight loss products.
I went on weight watchers the first time in my early 20’s and then the second time in my 30’s. I know for many women and girls, diets can start a lot earlier than that. I didn’t grow up in a home where I was shamed for my weight, but I know many that have been and it’s taken them years to have a “normal” relationship with food and exercise. These women have skipped meals in order to be a certain size or maybe have gone to extremes with exercise, forcing themselves to exercise every day for long hours.
When women are so focused on their weight, it doesn’t give them time to focus on anything else. I think of all the time and energy I put into weight watchers each time I was on it. Furiously tracking my points, deciding what I could eat and what I couldn’t eat. I reached a point where I could only eat 21 points a day and it was so nerve racking, I wanted to eat something other than chicken and salad. I remember thinking, I could ONLY have one piece of pizza or half of a burrito from Qdoba and I was still hungry and wanted more. It was horrible and all that because I thought I needed to be thin to be pretty and attractive. These diets were a big distraction for me, I could have been doing things that I wanted to do and enjoying my life. When I was on a diet, I remember it being stressful and I wasn’t living my life to the fullest. They were both in times of life when I started seeing my friends doing all the things I wanted to do, they all had jobs, were married and having kids, which wasn’t happening for me at the time. Norm and I were dating on and off, I didn’t have a job in my field of study, I was living at home with my parents and in my perspective back then, my life sucked. I immersed myself in losing weight because I thought it would make me happy, but not really. I lost some weight, but all the problems I had were still there at the end of the day. Instead of being fat and unhappy, I was skinny and unhappy. In reality, I was always looking for other things to make me happy, getting married would make me happy, having a kid would make me happy, losing weight would make me happy and really none of those things made me happy.
I had to make myself happy internally and in the past few years, since joining BARE and really focusing on my self-development, I learned that I don’t need to be “happy” all of the time and I’m also learning to love the body I have. I look at my daughter and the love she has for her body and I want that mentality back for myself and for others too. I may not love my body just yet, but I don’t hate it either. I have a belly and you know what, we all do. In fact, just recently my daughter asked me if I was pregnant and it could have really bothered me, but I didn’t let it. I told her, that’s my belly babe, just like you have a belly.
My challenge for you this month is to look at your body with curiosity. Try looking at yourself naked in front of the mirror and saying “I love you”. If that sounds too hard, then try a baby step. Look at your favorite body part and say that and then move on from there. If you do this every day, who knows you may start liking or loving your body just the way it is.
P.S. If you want to dig deeper into this and more, did you know that I offer a free 30 minute mini-session? Click the link here to schedule that call!