Earlier in the week I overhead a comment that sounded like someone was speaking about how I have gained weight. I cannot 100 % guarantee this was the comment, but whether or not it actually happened is beyond the point. People make rude comments to each other about age, weight, height, life choices etc. all the time. Also, this might be an easy comment to shrug off for many of you. For a highly sensitive person, whose struggled with having positive body image my whole life- this was a doozy!
When this comment happened I really wish I would of had the guts to stop in my tracks and address the issue head on, but unfortunately this is a skill I am still lacking (and need some practice in). Instead I chose to pretend for the time being that I must of misheard, and went on with my day.
But I noticed the comment sticking with me throughout the rest of the day as I worked with my clients. Did I gain weight? I am not sure! I haven’t weighed myself since 2013 (you can read more about that story HERE). I slowly started to get slightly self conscious…maybe my clothes had gotten a bit tighter? When suddenly I had an amazing realization (thanks to 5 + years now of self awareness and personal development work!).
What did I realize?
When someone comments on you this comment is coming from their reality, their head space, based on their day, and their mood, their feelings about themselves and their own bodies. I found this amazing meme on a Facebook page I follow regularly called GO Kaleo:
Although intellectually I was able to process this understanding, I still at the same time was feeling a bit insecure. I decided I needed to carry out an action plan so that this one little comment didn’t ruin my day, and my week.
Here are some of the things I did to work past my insecurities:
#1: Many of my friends know about my journey of learning how to EMBRACE my body and learn to love it, even if I am not 125 pounds and 15 % body fat (You can read more about that journey HERE). So the first thing I did was text a few friends about what happened and how I was feeling. I made sure to finish up the text by saying ‘I am texting you this so you can remind me to continue to EMBRACE my body, have a positive body image, and not fall back into disordered thoughts and eating”. My friends were very encouraging and supportive, as always, which helped.
#2: Next I actually went to Instagram and Facebook. In my journey to teach myself body positivity I found a lot of good resources online from people all over the world who were all shapes and sizes and whose main message was to take care of ourselves, without restriction, guilt, and shame. I came across an Instagram account that I thought was profoundly honest, hilarious, and totally up my alley. Her name is Kate, and she is in recovery from some very debilitating mental illnesses, one of which she is currently battling being eating disorder recovery and having positive body image. The first video I saw was her dancing crazy around in her living room in her underwear to help herself and others overcome negative thoughts and the need/desire to appear perfect. You can check out her Instagram. After reviewing her account, and a few others I follow on Facebook I was once again in a great state of mind, realizing that there are so many other women like me everywhere who are tired of trying to look a certain way, and don’t want to be judged for it either!
#3: Ok, now here’s the funny part. After watching Kate’s account I decided that I also wanted to “Dance it out” on video. I flipped on a song, and pressed record and OMG the craziest dance moves came out, and sure put a smile on my face. It’s impossible to be depressed or anxious when you are dancing around like a fool in your living room. The best way to get out of a funk is to get up, throw on a song and dance! And guess what? I am going to share my dance with you 🙂 You know why? Because I want you to smile. I want it to bring some happiness to your day. Sure I look like a fool! My hair is hanging half out of it’s pony tail, I’ve got the most ridiculous facial expressions, and my dance moves are wild. And sure I fear that you will judge me and think I am nuts. BUT in the end I want to spread more joy, and love, and goofiness, and silliness in this world- rather than judging others. And I think this video will help.
After I made the video I sent it to a friend and dedicated it to all the people in the world who are judged daily. We can find ways to not let these judgments bring us down- but instead lift us up! Which brings me to my next point.
#4: After having this experience I decided that the only plausible thing to do was to spread a tremendous amount of kindness into the world, to counteract for all the judgement and hate. I made an extra effort to smile at others, express thanks and gratitude, say hi to people I don’t normally, and treat others with the respect they deserve.
In 1970, the average age a girl began dieting was 14, according to The Eating Disorder Foundation. By 1990, that age had dropped to eight. Each new study on children, dieting, and body image reveals only more appalling details. In 1991, 42% of first-through-third-grade girls reported wanting to be thinner. That same year, a study found that 51% of of nine- and 10-year-old girls felt better about themselves while dieting. SOURCE
The world needs more women of all shapes and sizes looking, feeling, acting confident. Not putting their bodies down!
In the end I had a FREAKING great week. Whether or not I have gained weight or not, I now know that I can manage these comments and don’t let them tear me down. I didn’t force myself to overexercise the rest of the week. I noticed when I wanted a bit of extra food because I was hungry, and noticed how that negative self talking voice in my head tried to stop me (but it didn’t). I wanted to share for reference how I might have reacted to this comment 5 or 10 years ago:
- When I was in University if someone called me fat I would have:
- Put into immediate action a plan to get on a better diet.
- Forced myself into more exercise that day then I wanted to.
- Felt low, crappy about myself and my abilities.
- Felt like a failure that I can’t live up to societies standards for weight.
- Felt anxious, started to avoid eye contact.
- Limit my social time to spend more time trying to lose weight.
- 5 Years ago, someone did call me fat. This was during a period of time that I had gone from basically not eating food, to eating food again, and I had indeed gained weight. My reaction at the time, was a little healthier. I:
- Called a friend and cried.
- Doubted myself, my ability to eat food and exercise in moderation, and would have continued contemplating some kind of diet/exercise program I should be on to satisfy others needs for how I should look.
- At this point I was working with a nutritionist who supported me in not heading down that downward spiral.
It is so refreshing for me to see that although it took 5-10 years I was able to transform many of the thoughts I have had about my body, and my relationship with food from my whole life.
I wanted to write this to all women, because I know that we all suffer to some degree from this obsession to look or be a certain way. Please reach out to someone you trust and get some support if you are in a guilt, shame, depressed, anxious, self hating spiral. Remember- all the little negative comments you say about your body add up. Stop saying the little ones:) And finally- it’s ok to be upset and sad about something someone else said. In the end, don’t let it break your spirit. Set up an action plan (like mine) for when you are down and need some uplifting!
If you know someone who this might help today, please pass it along 🙂
Love to all you body positive warriors out there!