Body shaming is still a recurring feeling all of us get. We hide from a mirror or our loved ones. Appearance is such a high priority for everyone in this day and age. We focus on how we look to others. Their judgments of us are what fuel our self-esteem. The question is why? Why does it matter what others think of your body? It’s yours. Let us explore why body shaming exists and how we can heal ourselves from it.
What does Body Shame Look Like?
Body shame comes in many shapes and forms. The origin however can be a numerous number of reasons. The big three that are most common are social media, family/friends’ voices about it, and most importantly your own voice.
Social media focuses on a certain body type—the super symmetrical shape that is tall, thin and has proper curves. This ideal body is false and does not exist. There are several kinds of unique beautiful body types for men and women. The true beauty that isn’t even mentioned is the personality and quality of a human being. Appearance is the first thing we see, so many people judge one another. However, if we learn to focus on the conversations and actions of others, it can make a big change in how we see bodies.
Family and friends are another reason our idea of body image can be negative. How a family member reacts to your appearance or on forms of media can resonate with you growing up. The way friends talk about others and comment on how you look can also make an impact.
The biggest impact is your own voice. Your voice is the most important, and the only one that should matter. How you see yourself is what shapes you.
Why Body Shame Can Happen?
Based on the big three reasons, body shame can begin forming during childhood. Growing up in a certain environment, we can hear and see different behaviors when it comes to the topic of appearances. How we are taught to view others and judge them also can manifest in the way we view ourselves. For example, if we constantly see on social media figures of big and curvy bodies as a negative body type, then we may see that as such. However, that’s not the case with any body type you fall into. If you have been struggling with accepting your body for all the amazing things it can do, let’s begin with a few steps to affirming your self-love.
5 Ways to Heal from Body Shame
- Follow Body Positive Accounts
Social media can be a negative source where society focuses on an ideal body type. Try to cleanse your social media account by being selective on who and what you follow. Follow more positive accounts that acknowledge painful experiences and struggles and embrace everyone with welcoming arms. Here are three examples of Instagram accounts to follow:
@Beafeministgirl- this account is everything pro-feminism and men. It encourages women to normalize physical attributes about themselves, including ways of thinking and appearance.
@Sistercody- this person is an artist who uses his drawing skills to create scenarios of awareness. Many of his simple stick figure drawings add color and insight to acknowledging one’s negative feelings and the positives as well.
@Positveesayingsdaily- this account posts content about mental health, body image, social acceptance of race, gender, stereotypes, status, and more. There is no toxic positivity only acceptance of everyone’s feelings. They also post daily reminders and suggestions to occupy someone who is having a bad day.
- Write something nice about yourself every day
It’s one thing to hear from something or someone positive advice; it’s another to tell yourself. Writing is a great way to let out all the insecurities you have. You can keep a journal and write one thing you love about yourself. It can be about anything: physical appearance, capabilities, behaviors, actions you performed that day, it can be about role models or friends. The possibilities are endless for your self-love journaling.
- Listen to Podcasts of Body Acceptance
Hearing others’ stories of similar experiences can help you empathize and learn from your own. These three podcasts’ suggestions discuss body image, dieting, self-affirmation, relationships, sex, being a woman, body health for mind and body, and body acceptance overall:
- Self- Awareness of Negativity
You may be on this self-loving journey to prevent body shaming. There can be challenging moments where reassuring yourself doesn’t come easy. You may slip back into your body shaming ways. For one, that is okay, no one is perfect and we must accept the sadness that comes along. One thing we can do during these trying times is to become aware. Having awareness of our actions and behavior during or before we become negative can help for future body positivity.
If you are feeling self-conscious about how you look, ask yourself why did that thought come up? Sometimes asking yourself the ‘why?’ question can lead to many breakthroughs. Being aware of your reactions to certain outside voices and behaviors will help you better understand where this negative body shaming is stemming from. This can prevent toxic positivity and negative commentary occur.
- Mirror Work
The last way to help heal your body shaming is mirror work. Mirror work is an interesting method of self-love. This method has been procured by Amina Peterson, an intimacy coach from the new Netflix series Sex, Love, & goop. Peterson explains, “Mirror work moves us out of this space where our beauty is for other people to consume and not for us to realize.”
Instead of relying on the comments of others, this mirror exercise will help you see yourself for who you are. Only you will be looking at yourself, no judgments. You may be wondering how can this help me at all? Peterson poses the question, “How am I going to get to a space where I experience true intimacy with a partner if I’m terrified of self-intimacy.” This exercise is to face your body and learn self-intimacy. It may seem bizarre to look at your natural body in a mirror, however, the first step is to acquaint your eyes to what others may see, whether it be your romantic partner or others who see you in clothes.
In order to prepare for the mirror, work you must set up the space by cleaning and cleansing the space using whatever makes you comfortable. Next, prep your body, this can include taking a bath or lotion up. Then it’s time to disrobe in front of a full-length body mirror (if you do not have a body mirror, that is also alright, you control this experience). Finally, the challenge is to really look at yourself. Do not judge yourself just see. Ask yourself ‘why’ whenever you stumble on a place you are uncomfortable with. Then self-affirm. Look at yourself and say aloud affirmations about what you see.
These five guidelines of practicing self-love and body acceptance, are just a stepping stone to the journey ahead. The way you see yourself is what matters. Loving yourself is the key to loving others and spreading positive vibes. Body shame is something you may be struggling with, but it can be healing to be aware, talk and write about, find positive sources, and see yourself.
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