Dealing With Body Shame: How I Learned To Fight Back
Posted on 10 June 2016
(Inspirational note by Unknown)
Raise your hand if you have ever struggled with body image! Yup, I think it's safe to say that the overwhelming majority of women today have experienced some sort of body shame or dysmorphia, for many of which it's a lifetime battle. None of us are immune to the effects, whether we're short, tall, skinny, curvy, apple, pear or banana shaped.... we've all felt it before. And I'm no different. I struggle with my weight and have a love hate relationship with my body, even if it's not noticeable to others. But I wasn't always this insecure. In fact I spent most of my life as a slim girl, praised for a figure that I took for granted. I didn't grow up hating my body as so many of my friends did and I certainly never thought of myself as skinny though I barely tipped 100 on the scale.
But of course that all changed once I started adulting and filled out in my mid 20's. For me, "filling out" meant gaining 20+ pounds within the course of a couple years. While I was at first content to go about my days the same as I always had, other people's negative comments slowly started to permeate my self-esteem as they felt it was their duty to bring my weight gain to my attention. Thanks guys - I got it! While I was still an average sized, healthy woman I apparently wasn't worthy of praise and attention any more. And while I tried to shrug the negativity off and even started a weekly workout routine, I just couldn't get over all the offensive plastic surgery suggestions and the "Do you really want to eat that?"'s.
(Body Shapes illustration by Gemma Correll)
So I began cataloging my meals, wearing all black (the official dress code of NYC) and stressing over how to best hide my "problem" areas. I learned to completely obsess over how I looked every single day and began comparing myself to other women to gauge a sense of my worth. And quite frankly - it was exhausting! It wasn't until I hit the pinnacle of body shame when a guy I was dating kicked me out of his bed because my body was too gross (I didn't look like the porn stars he was used to seeing on TV), that something in me finally snapped.
Something happens to you when you reach your 30's... I guess you can call it "maturity" or whatever. And combined with the growing movement of body positivity, I finally realized that all this body criticizing was total bullshit. All of us are going to gain or lose weight in our lifetime - it's inevitable. Does it take away from who we are as people? Is it unhealthy or unsafe for us or others? If it's something that everyone experiences then why do we demonize it so much, especially for women? There are more important things in life that deserve our attention like poverty, climate change and inequality.
(Graffiti art by Miss Van)
I feel thankful that I had this revelation when I did because it really changed my way of thinking and is finally freeing me up to enjoy life more today. It's made me hope that more women will have their own "body revelation" moment (and hopefully a less humiliating one than I had) so that we can stop stressing and start being grateful for what we have. And I'm happy to report that the body shamers of my past were either booted to the curb or are now too afraid to make those kinds of comments to me.
Sure, it's a constant battle and I often still wish for my old body back but it no longer consumes my every thought or controls my actions. I find my inspiration from strong women like Lena Dunham, Tess Holiday and the sultry girls of graffiti artists Fafi and Miss Van. Their confidence and sexiness encourages me to actually embrace my tummy pooch and tiny boobs as I now sit here posing in lingerie for the world to see. And to be honest, I wouldn't trade the joy of pigging out on pizza with bae for the world....or even for my former 100 pound frame.
Have you ever had a body revelation? How do you deal with body shamers?