Almost every one of us experiences an internal conflict with his body. Especially often women who are instilled in the standards of beauty from childhood are exposed to it. And although the movement of body positive is gaining more and more momentum every year, learning to love and accept your body is not as easy as it seems. Emily and Amelia Nagoski, authors of the bestselling book Burnout, devote a separate chapter to this problem. How to stop striving to bring your body in line with the current ideal? And what are the consequences of such an internal struggle?
Figures and facts
When a girl is just born, every inch of her body is greeted with admiration. Wrinkles, bumps, curvy knees – it all seems beautiful. But by the age of 6, half of the girls think that they are too fat. By the age of 11, two out of three girls have such a thought, and at the transitional age, each begins to control her weight.
But it was not always so. For example, there was no television on the Fiji Islands until 1995 – and no eating disorders were recorded there. With the advent of broadcasts of Western channels, the number of girls with this syndrome has sharply increased to 29%.
There are also opposite examples. In Jamaican culture, for example, the ideal woman must be curvy, so girls are fed “chicken pills” – special preparations designed to gain weight in birds.
An entire branch of industry lives off of the fact that convinces us that we must live up to the ideal. This information enters the brain imperceptibly, drop by drop, and shapes our view of the world and our self-esteem.
From all sides, we hear that low weight leads to health, that diets are healthy, and that body mass index (BMI) is the main indicator that we should be guided by. But is it?
Body mass index is just the ratio of height to weight, nothing more.
Emily and Amelia Nagoski cite in the book the results of an analysis made by the medical journal The Lancet based on 189 medical studies. It found that people who were classified as “obese” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were at lower health risks than those who were “underweight.”
It is also wrong to focus on BMI because people naturally differ in weight and shape. The proof of this is the album by photographer Howard Schatz, “Athlete”, which contains photographs of athletes who participated in the Olympic Games. There are both miniature gymnasts and heavyweights – but everyone is at the peak of their physical shape.
This is how the bodies of NFL players look – they are all different, and all are beautiful in their own way. A source
Consequences of body shaming
What are the consequences of our relentless pursuit of an ideal body?
- Financial losses. Above, we have already found out that the bikini industry is a whole industry that needs to be earned: on endless diets, weight loss programs, sports training and advice from fashionable nutritionists.
- Missed opportunities… How many goals could we achieve if we didn’t direct all our efforts to fight obesity and try to fit into beauty standards?
- Chronic stress from constant immersion in an environment teeming with ideal bodies… In the environment of each of us there is a person who will certainly ask something like “Oh, don’t you really care how you look?” Yes, most likely, such people believe that they are acting with the best intentions, but it does not make it easier for you.
- Discrimination… People with higher weight are paid less at work and are more likely to be bullied at school – not only by other children, but also by teachers. Doctors ignore their complaints and hesitate to diagnose, advising first to lose weight.
- Further damage measured in human lives… Of all mental disorders, eating problems account for the bulk of deaths: 250,000 people a year.
Four strategies of behavior
Everyone chooses what to do with their body. You can continue to fight to change it – even if you understand how difficult and time-consuming it is. Or you can stop chasing social approval. But be prepared to be accused and condemned.
We are taught that the body reflects our human value, our personality traits. But this is not the case. A source
Battles with social norms will become your daily routine. Here are four strategies to help along the way.
Strategy 1: embrace inner conflict
Instead of trying to “accept your body” as body positivity adherents advise, try to accept your doubts first. It’s hard to be detached about your weight and body when the bikini industry attacks us from all sides. But you can sympathize with your own experiences, especially if you understand where they grow from.
When engaging in physical exercise, think not about how it will help you lose weight, but about the benefits for your health and inner state.
Move anyway, just smile at your restless thoughts.
Strategy 2: you are the newest fashion trend
To wean the mind from self-criticism and learn to be kind to yourself, you can use the game “Newest Fashion Trend”. The point is to apply this phrase to any image of you that transcends social standards.
Hanging belly after childbirth? – The newest fashion trend. Got 10 kilograms while taking exams? – The newest fashion trend. Do new wrinkles appear with each passing year? – The newest fashion trend.
You yourself determine the value of your body and appearance
Strategy 3: everyone is the newest fashion trend
Every day we meet many different bodies. We experience condemnation towards those who do not correspond to the generally accepted ideal. We envy those who fit into the narrow beauty standard. And we suffer because of our own “weak points”.
One practice that can help you look at imperfect bodies without judgment is simple gazing. Try looking at pictures of fat women on the internet until your feelings of awkwardness and dislike are gone. Learn to see the beauty of each one.
Research confirms that simply looking at certain body types changes people’s preferences for that body shape.
Strategy 4: “Hey body, what do you want?”
We are used to ignoring our own needs, obeying the rules of society. We know it’s good to drink a smoothie for breakfast and add chia seeds to your porridge. But not all foods recommended by nutritionists can be good for your body.
We live exclusively in the head, passing signals from other organs
To get out of this vicious circle, you need to imagine that your body belongs to someone as helpless as a baby. And to evaluate it not from the outside, but by listening to the inner state. You may need to break away from business, take a deep breath and concentrate. Maybe you want to say this question out loud: “What do you want?”
The answer will surely come. And the more you practice looking for it, the more accurate it will be. How much to sleep and what time to eat? What to do now? What kind of food is there? It’s up to you, not the magazine covers.
Based on materials from the book “Burnout”
Post cover from here
# Mindfulness # Stress # Acceptance