As I watched a woman rip her body apart verbally, proving to her viewers she needed to get thin, something clicked for me. We watch others feel so badly about the “before” picture, not realizing someone else could want to look that way. The “before” picture could be someone’s goal weight, meanwhile the person is ripping it apart and criticizing it. For instance, I saw someone completely self-loath verbally, showing a “before” look at themselves. They were so grossed out with themselves. I thought, no that’s not right. It’s okay to want improvement but attacking yourself in front of others causes other people to see themselves in a negative way as well. Maybe you can relate, if you watch someone get all negative and point out flaws, you start to wonder about your own body. Have you noticed when you are hanging out with someone you think is beautiful and they start being self-critical, you start to think well what does she think of me. It’s a terrible loop of body shaming. Just because you body shame yourself does not make it okay. You are, in a sense, body shaming all women if you shame yourself.
I think we need to point out our assets if anything. We live in an appearance based culture but hating on yourself is part of the problem. Way back in high school I met a girl with an eating disorder and almost every day she wouldn’t eat much and would say “I am so fat.” She was tiny and all I could think of was, what does that make the rest of us, if you think you are fat? At such an impressionable age, it was not a great influence. I think as adult women we should keep our insecurities to ourselves the best we can. Because the insecurities you are verbalizing will only influence more women to focus on appearance. The truth is we need to make it less of an issue by minimizing the amount of time we think about it and talk about it.
Understandably health should come first, eating well and exercise are top priority. But all this negative shit about our bodies is not emotionally healthy at all! The “before” look at the fat rolls is just another form of body shaming. This is an issue with men and women but because I am a woman I am speaking directly to the ones who I know speak negative crap about the female body, fat, thin, medium and so on. It’s all a bunch of appearance-focused negativity that does not help anyone feel confident. Confidence and living a healthy lifestyle come from daily movements towards balanced eating and activity. Feeling good about your appearance is about acceptance, joy and about living your life focused on meaningful relationships with others but especially yourself.
Let’s all join and stop hating on our “before” pictures. Let’s remember that each of us change with the seasons. Your friend could be stressed, going through a life change or having hormone issues. Let’s find more understanding for each other, more compassion for the changes we face with life. But most of all let’s have patience with our bodies and life experiences. We are all in this together and we can all support and help each other reach goals in a nice friendly way. Criticizing yourself publicly or amongst friends is not the answer.
If you're struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.