What are the barriers that get in the way of you accepting your body? Have you ever thought about this? What really contributes into you not feeling that your body okay? It’s easy to stay in a place where your inner critic lives. Where it can list all the things that are wrong or not good enough with your body. It can tell you all the reasons why you cannot accept, let alone love your body. These words may even feel impossible. But when you start to look at the influences of what shapes how you see your body, you can start to bring awareness to how that makes you feel and how you can change the relationship with your body into a kinder one.
Several weeks ago, this was a question that was asked to a group of mothers and daughters. These women brought to light, once again, the true impact of what is felt as a woman living in today’s society. Here are some of the barriers that were felt:
“The constant negative talk that people and society have about food, bodies and ‘women’s purpose’.”
“Friends talking about food, diet, exercise and weight.”
“Seeing and judging yourself based on others.”
“How others think of appearance.”
“Disconnection from my body.”
“Too hard on myself.”
“Not feeling attractive enough.”
“Not measuring up to the picture in our mind, or magazine pages of how we should look.”
“My body will never be good enough.”
“Am I worth it?”
“Society’s judgements and values.”
“If I love and accept my body, will I become lazy and stop caring?”
I wonder how you relate to these as you read these statements? There is so much truth here. You can feel these words. This place that feels the pressure that society has created on how we should look. And men are not immune to this pressure. It is there for them too. When we sit back and really look at what is felt, it is NOT the message of love and acceptance for your body. But rather, “don’t stop trying to change it, it will never be enough.”
The overwhelming barrier is the judgement that is felt through the eyes staring back at you in the pages of the magazines, in your Instagram feed and through the television screen. Society has overflowed the diet industry’s pockets in creating this perception that you are not enough as you are. Your body can always be better. If its too big, it can be smaller. If it too small, it can bigger. And now, any body can always be fitter. It’s no wonder that this creates a disconnection from your body. It can feel impossible to live up to these standards that are set. The shame and guilt can feel too much to bear, so why bother? “I will never be enough.” “I will never measure up.”
See, these barriers are taught to us. They are passed down to us. The diet industry has seeped into so many areas of our life that it has been imprinted on us for too many decades. We are sent the message, that if my body is different in any way from what is presented, then it must be wrong.
My friend, just because this is the story that is told to you, it doesn’t have to become your truth. You are in charge of how you see yourself. Regardless of how others see you. But that is work. That is looking at what, and maybe who, has impacted your confidence in yourself. What limiting stories about yourself do you tell? What prevents you from accepting the body that you are in?
The women that sat in this group, were of all shapes and sizes. Every woman feels the pressure that is very present in our society. There is no denying the weight stigma that exists. Someone who is in a bigger body feels and experiences situations differently than someone who is thin. Our society paints the message that if your body is bigger, then your body is wrong, you’re lazy, you don’t care about your body and that you must be unhealthy. If you are thin, you are accepted, you must be healthy and take care of yourself.
But what I can tell you from working with people that live on both ends of the scale, that this stigma is what is wrong, not the body size. I have seen people who live in a larger body restrict their calories, kill themselves at the gym, live in hunger and guilt and are “applauded” for all their hard work. To conceptualize that they are disordered in their thoughts and their behaviors with food, feels “crazy” because “look at their weight.” The weight actually tells a story. It tells you that there was once a need for protection, and maybe still is. Protection from hurtful words, from a situation, from not getting the true nourishment that they need, from trauma or from never feeling enough. There are so many layers, when you stop to actually look at it.
See, when society just points the finger at not being okay because of how your body looks, you stay lost in the surface of physical appearance. Society pokes at the holes of not being enough. It tells you not to take up too much space, just do what is “right” and you will be happy. But anyone who has embarked on the journey of looking at their relationship with their body, will tell you that the surface is the safe place to stay. But you no longer want to be there. Uncovering all the barriers that you put up means that you are looking at you. You are looking at what limiting beliefs you have claimed to be your truth. These beliefs that have made you feel that you can not be okay with the body that you are in.
By looking at this, by reclaiming YOU, you find that it is YOU in fact that gets to decide your worth and value, no one else. YOU get to decide that you are indeed enough. YOU get to take the barrier that society has put up and run it over with love, compassion and respect for yourself and body. Reclaiming all the space that has been yours and shining that beautiful light that lies within you.