Today’s Soften Saturday post is from Alta of Tasty Eats At Home. Not only is she brilliant in the kitchen, she has great insight into the challenges so many of us face when it comes to accepting our beautiful bodies.
Break Free From the Chains of Body Shames by Alta
Body-shaming is everywhere. Just take a look at the tabloids, social media, the news – and just listen to people talk about one another, or themselves. It’s not new, but as media creeps into every facet of our lives, it seems that this message just seeps in. That message that somehow, no matter what, there is something wrong with the way someone’s body looks. Hot-and-sexy Celebrity A has gained weight. Always-happening Celebrity B has let herself go. Otherwise-perfectly-healthy-and-beautiful Celebrity C has *gasp* cellulite. Just the other day, I saw that a tabloid had a caption on the front page, showing Kate Middleton leaving with the royal baby from the hospital, sharing a “Post-Baby Weight Loss Regime”. Seriously? The woman just had a baby 24 hours ago. TWENTY-FOUR HOURS. That’s what a post-partum belly looks like. (In my opinion, she looked amazing.)
And along that same line, there’s the diets. Low-carb. Low-fat. Paleo. Primal. Gluten-free. Sugar-free. Detox for 10 days and lose 5 pounds. Lose one dress size in just 4 weeks. There are a million versions of the same underlying message: you’re not good enough. You must get smaller. Thinner. Lose a size. Take up less space. Become less.
It’s hard not to get wrapped up in the nonsense. It’s everywhere, after all. And it’s easy to catch yourself saying things right along with other people. “She shouldn’t be wearing that outfit, she’s too (fat/skinny/boobs too big/butt too big/whatever).” Or often out of the mouths of those of us eating what we deem to be healthy diets, “If only they ate better/gluten-free/primal/paleo/vegan/vegetarian/whatever, they could lose the weight/gain muscle/be healthier.” I’ll admit it. I’ve said it or thought it. Not just about others, but perhaps the most damaging of all: I’ve said it to myself. Repeatedly.
It’s almost a given, right? With women, especially. We get together, and eventually the discussion turns to diet or weight or clothing, and we can’t help but talk about how fat we are, how we hate this part of our body, how we can’t eat that or wear that. Or we say it about others in some form or fashion, from the harsher “She’s really let herself go” to the self-deprecating “She looks great; I’ll never look that good.” It’s this whole ritual in our society. We degrade one another. We degrade ourselves. It’s as if it’s not okay to say “hey, I’m okay with how I look,” much less even admit out loud, or to ourselves “hey, I’m beautiful, and I’m okay with me.”
Well, folks, I’ve got news for you. You ARE okay. You ARE beautiful. Right now. Just as you are. Not five, ten, twenty, fifty pounds from now. Not when you lose that baby weight. Not except for your stretch marks/acne/fine lines/cellulite/bum knee. ALL OF YOU is beautiful. Awesome. Perfect. Just how you are. And so are your friends, your family, all the celebrities that are ousted on the tabloids, the strangers walking down the street. All of these people are beautiful.
Of course, it’s easy to say that. Easy to write it, easy to read. But to believe it? To live it? That’s harder. I struggle with this many days, but I’m learning to let go of the shaming. The negativity. The not-good-enough-itis. I’m no longer making critical remarks of others – not in my head, and certainly not out loud. In fact, I’m taking moments to stop and see the beauty in others. All sorts of beauty, in all ages, in all body types, men and women. Have you ever looked at photographs of people – not photoshopped, fashion and celebrity photographs, but real, everyday people. Like here, for example. These people are all beautiful, and the photographer has an amazing eye and ability to catch that beauty. I feel like it might sound silly, but I am working to look at people through that same eye, and appreciating all that I can see. Let me tell you, it’s a game-changer. Everyone really is beautiful. It’s kind of amazing. Once I started practicing this on a regular basis, I am learning to look at myself in that same manner. And you know what? I’m finding I’m beautiful too.
While I might not have the power to single-handedly take this mind shift and change society, ridding us all of the systemic body-shaming, I can share it here with you. I can share it with friends. And perhaps most importantly, I can share it with my teenage daughter, who is just learning her way in the world. There will be many places and opportunities for her to hear the typical judgmental words used against our bodies. What she needs to hear most of all from those closest to her is that she is good enough. If I tell her she is beautiful, choose to speak of others in a positive manner, and regard myself as good enough and in a loving, accepting frame of mind, then I hope that this helps her form a similar self-image. If I can change my mind for the better, perhaps she can change hers as well – and with that, we can change the world.
Thanks, Alta, for contributing this post. I hope all of you beautiful readers will drop by Tasty Eats at Home, Alta’s site full of gluten-free, dairy-free goodness.
Thanks so much for letting me share, Johnna! <3 This is a great series.
Shirley @ gfe & All Gluten-Free Desserts says
This is a great post, Alta. Thank you for writing it. It’s not an easy topic though and there are ongoing conflicts between what is said and what is done, so to speak. Case in point, you’ll read wonderful, uplifting posts like yours and then the same person who wrote the post will share an article on combatting obesity .. as if there aren’t human beings behind that label. I don’t think that many think about that when sharing, but that’s how I see it. I see that term and immediately click away after getting a sickening feeling in my stomach, I don’t comment, I don’t share, etc. Such actions/sharing/articles feel like a slap in the face (understatement) to anyone who is overweight. Yet, I believe in the power of being healthy and weight is tied to that without a doubt. Again, it’s not an easy subject. Doing away with the word obesity would be welcomed by most I believe. There’s just something about being put in these categories … fat, obese, ugly, etc. that makes folks not even want to do better. Honestly, nothing makes me want to put crap food in my body more than reading an article like that or hearing comments from friends on people who’ve gained a lot of weight, etc. Sad, but true. Again, these are all discussions that need to be had and there are no easy answers, but I appreciate your post. Now may we just live up to it … in regard to others and ourselves!
Exactly, Shirley. Shaming obesity, labeling, categorizing or otherwise making people fit into certain boxes does no good. I am all about health and wellness, but I’m learning that the number on the scale, the size of your pants, etc. many times has nothing to do with how healthy you are. There is also so much more going on with a person than their size/weight/appearance anyway. That’s where I really love seeing the unique beauty in every person – you can appreciate beauty in everything more when you take away what the accepted standards are and just really look with your heart. Saying only people of a certain size are deserving of the words “beautiful” is like saying that summer is the only “good” season of the year. All seasons are beautiful. All people are beautiful. <3
Shirley @ gfe & All Gluten-Free Desserts says
Just checking back on follow-up comments … so well said, Alta. Think about all we lose when we don’t accept and love the folks in our lives who don’t fit into the accepted definition of fit and healthy, etc. It’s such a shame to live that way and everyone loses out when we do.
Thank you again!
Love what you’ve said, Shirley! I think the key here may be to change what the accepted definition of fit and healthy is. We can’t really tell that looking at someone.