"I'm too old to wear that"
"Those clothes aren't made for a real women"
"I love these jeans, but do they make me look fat?"
"I adore colour, but I only wear black because it's slimming"
These are just a few of the things I've heard people say in the fifteen years I've been working in retail. These are thoughts people share out loud, but what's also going on inside? We say things to ourselves that we would never say to our best friends or loved ones, and yet it's somehow okay to say it to yourself in the mirror. And yes, I'm a victim of it as well, the negative self-talk does not discriminate.
What I've come to realize in the wake of the body positive movement, is that you are almost forced into this idea that you HAVE to love your body no matter what. This idea perpetuates the guilt and shame that comes from your body - on days I am struggling, it makes me feel like I don't love myself enough. And there I go again with the negativity and being hard on myself.
Research has shown that saying random positive affirmations to yourself in the mirror when you don't actually believe them, makes your subconscious mind reject the idea, which in turn creates more stress and resentment towards the thing you're trying to be positive about. It works well for people who inherently have high self-esteem but fails for the people who really need coping mechanisms. Seems pretty silly right?
Enter Body Neutrality!! Have you heard of it?
Allow me to blow your mind: being body neutral means that how you feel about yourself as a whole, has nothing to do with what your body looks like at this moment. Acknowledge what your body DOES rather than how it appears.
Does your brain help you make decisions in work and life? That's your body doing something amazing! Do your legs and arms work, and help you get out of bed every morning? YAY BODY!! Did your body grow and give birth to your child? HOLY SH*T!! None of those things have anything to do with if you have cellulite, if your thighs touch, or if you think you're too old to wear a mini skirt. Taking the focus away from how our bodies look allows us so much more space to focus on other things. It creates space for some middle ground, not loving or hating our bodies, but simply accepting them for what they are, bodies. They don't identify who you are, they don't make you a good person, they don't make you better or worse, they simply exist.
So, like anything else, this takes practice. It's never easy changing an internal dialogue we've been fed our entire lives. Here are a few things to keep in mind when the scary body image monster comes to mess up your day:
The SSG Team