Do you want to pass down a good body image to your kids? (Along with food freedom)? Do you wish your own body image was a bucket-load better?
Cos here is the simple truth – as a culture, we are failing MASSIVELY at growing humans with a good, health body image.
One recent survey found that 89% of women wished they were thinner!
And trust me, that is not because 89% of women are above the weight range that doctors (incorrectly) deem acceptable and healthy.
No, no, no.
Those 89% of women believe they need to be thinner, because our culture tells them that a thin body is better. And that without it, they are not acceptable.
Once I Get My Eating And Body Sorted….
Have you told yourself that once you get your eating and body sorted, then you can get on with everything else?
That once you get the eating and body stuff sorted, you’ll feel better about yourself, have more confidence, be accepted by family, friends, work colleagues and society. You’ll stop worrying about your body and what you’re eating, enjoy food again, be healthier and fit your clothes better. In short, life will take on a blissful new rainbow-coloured theme… and then you’ll have time to focus on life.
This twisted tale is passed down from generation to generation, mother to daughter, sister to sister. Each holding the knowing closely to themselves; pushing it down into the aching void they feel inside. “Get the food and body stuff sorted, then life will be better.”
Only it’s impossible, because diets don’t work.
And your body will fight back hard and fast every time you try to starve it (a.k.a. diet).
Which is why the diets fail and you end up back at Step One, starting another new diet that is supposedly going to work (and again, doesn’t work).
So what causes us to get stuck in this loop of wanting to be thinner?
Our Cultural Idolisation of ‘Thin Bodies’ Causes Disordered Eating
I often hear celebrities justifying their latest round of weightloss with comments like, “I just feel better when I’m smaller, that’s just the way I feel, it doesn’t mean everyone else needs to the size.”
They know that in 2020, year of ‘body positivity’, we’re supposed to love ourselves the way they are….
And they’re not lying when they say they feel better when they’re smaller. They truly believe it, thinking that some miraculous change happens throughout their body.
What they don’t realise is that they FEEL BETTER when they’re smaller, because of the CULTURAL PRESSURE to be smaller.
It is nothing specific to their body. It is the unburdening of social pressure from their shoulders that they feel.
They no longer carry the weight of their agents, fans, and the media all saying, “She’d look really hot if she lost a bit of weight,” or “She’s so pretty, just a bit too chubby.”
It is 100% peer pressure.
And that peer pressure and cultural idolisation of ‘thin bodies’ often leads to disordered eating; in other words, taking ANY path possible to shed the weight.
It’s not at all about eating healthier; it’s about being smaller at whatever cost (loss of health included).
Body Dissatisfaction Ruins Your Life & Wellbeing
The peer pressure we feel to be thinner is horrendous and harmful.
Women who have higher levels of body dissatisfaction experience more social anxiety, a reduced quality of life, low self-esteem and depressive symptoms.
Nearly two-thirds of average weight adolescent girls wish they weighted less than their self-reported weight. How sad is that?
Worse still, younger women with higher levels of body dissatisfaction are not only more likely to suffer from depression, they’re also more likely to think about suicide.
Sadly, girls as young as 5 years old have reported concerns about their body and weight, and they already understand how to diet. At just 5 years old.
And young girls are prepared to do all manner of harmful things to lose weight and get that thinner body…. fasting, using diet pills, purging, over-exercising. And all while their young bodies are still trying to grow and develop into a healthy adult body.
How did we get to this place where the desire to be thinner is not at all about being healthier?
Where loads of young girls who are already underweight report taking extreme weight control behaviours in the past week in order to become thinner?
That weight-loss is pursued, irrespective of current weight status, and through harmful behaviors to the detriment of the health and wellbeing of girls and women right throughout our life-time, should be more shocking to us than it is.
And yet its widely accepted. We’re numb to our western culture of dieting.
It seems ‘normal’ to pursue ‘thinner’ at all costs. But it’s not normal and it’s certainly not healthy!
How To Start Repairing Your Relationship With Your Body And Self
Aside from recognising that the desire to be thinner doesn’t really come from inside you, it comes from the Diet Lie, you can also take steps to try and heal.
- Minimise the amount of time that you spend talking about food and diets with other people; excuse yourself from those conversations.
- Reduce your gym time if you’re over-exercising.
- Cull your social media feeds, so you’re not following thin-obsessed and image-obsessed accounts that have you fixated on your body and weight.
- Relabel your emotions to ensure they are not related to your body (i.e. rather that saying “I feel fat today”, instead say, “I feel sad/helpless/hopeless today”).
- Reduce body checking – that’s pinching your tummy rolls, arms, legs or other places to check how big/small they feel.
- Reduce body avoidance – try to slowly allow yourself to see your own body in the mirror.
- Start following social media accounts that express a diversity of shapes and size AND don’t focus on body talk – larger bodied people, ethnically diverse, different genders talking on topics you’re passionate about (other than bodies/diets/being thin). Remind yourself that people come in more than one size and shape (thin, white women).
- Journal about your self-worth – write down 2 or 3 non-body related things about yourself that you appreciated. It’s time to remind yourself that you are more than a body.
- Join my online Intuitive Eating course – the 10 modules will help guide you through the process of finding ease with food again, stop fighting against your body and your food cravings, and feel better and more confident in your body than ever before!
It’s not going to happen overnight. It’s been a life-time of listening and absorbing cultural messages about being thinner, that’s got you to where you are today.
So it’s going to take more than a week or two to get out of this rut.
But if you truly want to improve your happiness, build your self-worth, reclaim your life and set a fabulous example to your children…. then start the work today!