For [body] shame

[Just a head’s up that if reading about body image is an uncomfortable or triggering topic for you, this might be a post to skip. What we read can affect us in a positive or negative way, so please use your best judgment and choose literature that nourishes your body and mind. If you’re in recovery from an eating disorder, my healing wishes and heart are with you.)

There are some things I’m careful not to do in front of Liv:

-say the “F” word.. even though it still slips out sometimes (especially while driving)

-eat handfuls of chocolate or face-burning spicy foods, just because she always wants a bite

-body shame.

Even though there are some parts of my body I don’t exactly love, I don’t want Oliv to know the difference. Of course, I’m proud of my body, and am thankful it helped me carry a beautiful, healthy baby. At the same time, I think as a woman there are always little things we would love to change if we could. If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you’re probably aware of the fact that I don’t love my nose. I call it my “honker” and hinted at Tom to let me get rhinoplasty for years. After being repeatedly shot down because my nose makes me me, I’ve given it a rest. And now, the thought of someone taking a hammer to my face scares the bejeezus out of me.

Me and liv

Since having Liv, I notice the stretch marks on my belly. The other night, I told Tom that I’m like a tiger who earned her stripes 😉 Would I do it again? In a heartbeat, and I pray I’m able to, but I can’t say I love the stretch marks, even though I love the reason why I have them.

Despite the little things I would physically change, over time I’ve become more accepting and loving of my body. I think part of this comes from being older and more confident with time (I used to be really, really insecure. Having a verbally abusive person in your life will do that to you), and the other part is from having another human to take care of and realizing where true priorities lie. The funny thing is that back in the day, when I was my own harshest critic, I looked pretty much the same as I do now (save for a few new undereye bags). I’ll look back at pictures from a time when I was working to change so many things and think, “Wow. You wasted a lot of brain space worrying about nothing.”

Even so, just last week I realized that I was doing something I hadn’t done in quite a while: body shaming.

I was talking to some friends (this was relevant to the topic somehow?), and told them that when I sat down on the couch the previous night, my thighs got stuck together and make a horrific noise. Looking back, it’s kind of funny, but also, “WTF?”

As a girl who’s always been the one to tell friends they’re perfect and gorgeous as they picked themselves apart, here I was participating.

As women, I think body shaming can be a bonding thing (which is also very WTF). It can also be another way for women to compare themselves against each other. Women looooove comparing themselves to other women… and it’s stupid. Sure, comparison can be motivation and encourage you to make positive changes, but it can also be demeaning. It’s important to remember that everyone’s situation is unique. You never know what battles someone else is facing.

After my noisy thigh exclamation, I made a promise to myself that I would not get back into the body shaming trap. I’m endeavoring to lead by example for Liv: how to be compassionate, loving, truthful and have a positive self worth. Having confidence while still being humble is critical… especially when it comes to school, friends, and making smart decisions. If you have no confidence, you will be easily peer-pressured into things you don’t want to do or make poor choices for the sake of others’ approval.

I know that inevitably, she’ll be a teenager. She’ll start to think of things that she doesn’t like about her body, and these things could be largely influenced by her friends and the media. For Tom and myself, it’s an important goal to teach her of all of the things her body can DO without emphasizing how it looks. (Even though, yes, I do and will continue to tell her how beautiful she is.)

I don’t remember everything about my childhood, even though I have vidid memories that stand out. While the details are kind of fuzzy as far as what we did each day, I clearly remember how I felt growing up: loved. My mom and family always made me feel loved and that I was safe. My mom was beautiful to me, because she took care of me, taught me, and did fun things with me… not only because of how she looked (even though she was, and is, absolute stunning). I can only hope that Liv will feel the same way <3

This is a huge topic, but I would love to hear any of your musings or experiences with body shaming (how you stopped, or how you’re going to stop), teaching confidence to young girls, or even your favorite memory with your mom.

xoxo

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Comments

  1. Elizabeth says:

    You have a cute noise! We truly are our own worst critic and I think it’s crucial to be aware of it and use it to focus on positive growth (not body bashing).

  2. What a beautiful and insightful post. I believe that body shaming is just a way for us to keep ourselves small. We focus upon our bodies, which are going to change, get old and eventually fall away anyway, instead of focusing on how we can full and nurture ourselves and others to make this world a better place. You do not have to be small, or have a perfect body to be amazing. Look at Oprah, she is one of the most influential women in the world, and she has been over weight for almost her entire professional career. It does not matter. Value comes from what you believe in your heart. I believe when we start to give ourselves permission not to be small, to stand in our power, we will never again feel the need to shame our bodies. When we open our hearts to fully loving and accepting ourselves, our bodies included, we can do so in a much more powerful way towards others. When you know that you are beautiful, always, you will see how beautiful everyone else is always, and you will have changed the world for the better in just that simple act.

  3. This is a great post. My mom was the same – made me feel beautiful and loved and didn’t teach me any sort of body shaming. The hard thing is that young girls, even if they don’t get it at home, the media and other people can still lead to insecurities and I still struggled with body image in my teens (as many do). But you are right that the most we can do is be positive influences and hope that they figure it out as they get older and learn from your confidence. I’m sure Liv will be a beautiful and strong girl and eventually woman like her mama 🙂

  4. RachelG says:

    I body shame on a very regular basis and it’s hard for me to believe my friends and family when they tell me that I’m beautiful and perfect the way I am. In fact, I’d rather not hear them say that because I’d rather not talk about my appearance. I’d rather not bring attention to my body. As I look in the mirror while I’m brushing my teeth I notice if my face is looking pudgy. When I change in the morning and at night my eyes immediately shift to my belly. My belly that I hate that I don’t believe will ever be what I want it to be. I’m not 5 foot 7 120lbs and just think that I’m fat. I’m 5 foot 3 and probably around 145-150lbs. I’m actually the fittest I’ve ever been, as some of these pounds are definitely muscle. However, none of that matters. I really try to accept that this is my body but sometimes that feels like I’m giving up on trying to get fit and slim. I am absolutely the first person to tell a girlfriend to be happy with the body she has, and I mean it when I tell her that. It’s frustrating that I can’t believe the same thing about myself.

    Phew! Getting that house was a huge relief! Sometimes I feel like I bogart my loving fiancé with these concerns, and while I know he’ll listen, it’s easier to keep it in. Bless this blog for giving us all an outlet.

  5. I had body dysmorphic disorder throughout High School and was diagnosed and received therapy in college. It was very hard to cope with being, what I thought, was fat. In reality I was a perfectly healthy teenage girl. My mom also made comments about what I ate and how I looked that weren’t always encouraging or positive, which really affected our relationship.
    Looking back on old photos I WISH I still had that body that I so despised. Now I really am overweight and struggling with feeling attractive. I didn’t print off my wedding photos until a year after we had gotten married because I hated the way I looked.
    My husband has been so loving and supportive with my efforts to lose weight and become healthier. Thankfully, he has also been building my self esteem by telling me he loves me no matter how I look. Being healthy for us to start a family is my goal and even with the stretch marks and the extra weight, knowing my husband thinks I’m beautiful has made me start to feel beautiful.

  6. Kelly Kurcina says:

    As a Mom to a 19 year old, I am proud to say that being in this business (group x instructor/trainer, etc. since before I had my children) I made sure to NEVER say anything negative about my body. I was raising a daughter after all! I always made it about health and while I did get my nose fixed (so happy I did b/c I did it for me!) she has never had food issues and practices amazing portion control and balanced eating. I also never swear and it is forbidden in our home b/c I think it just pulls negativity into the air!

  7. I also consider my nose a “honker” 😉 But your nose has never stood out to me in any picture and I’ve been following this blog for years! So maybe people think the same about me 😉

    We are our own worst critics. I stopped the body shaming when I accomplished some major health and fitness goals and realized I was doing the best I could with what I have. I can’t change the shape or size of my bones and features but I am at my fittest and healthiest ever. I refused to compare my body image to others because I will never be anyone but me. I might as well make the darn best of it 😉

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