The ultimate goal in having a positive body image is to feel comfortable in our skin. Part of the paradigm shift we hope to achieve is accepting our bodies unconditionally. In my blog Eating Intentions I spoke of loving yourself unconditionally as your grandmother would have done. But, there is a further step to feeling comfortable in your skin, you actually have to believe your body is not flawed. How is that to be done, if 80% of us feel that there is something wrong with our bodies, that we are flawed from a standard? How can we do that if most of us believe deep down that we are only lovable or acceptable at a certain weight we either maintain by living in food prison or that we hope to get to someday when that diet actually works?
Grandmothering yourself is all about self-care. You won’t be able to care for your body well if you believe 'your body or yourself' is undeserving of care because it is not a certain weight or clothing size. You don't take care of people or things you hate. To feel good in your skin, you need to unconditionally accept yourself wherever you are. For the women obsessed with the number on the scale, this is acceptance and kindness towards yourself if you gain a couple pounds. And for the woman who is constantly dieting, this is acceptance at the weight you are today – not if you lose a certain number of pounds. Loving yourself at any size doesn’t mean being okay with living in an out-of-control eating state. It is about thinking enough of yourself to take good care of all of you, including the emotional side of you. That is the side that lives through the diet anxiety again and again. This is the radical self care you hear about today; you take good care of people and things you love. It means realizing that a few pounds on your body are just a few pounds.
In my workshops, we use a Body Image Journal to figure out where you are not accepting 'your body or yourself.' It focuses on what is in the way of you accepting your body? In the Body Journal I suggested when you start noticing re-occurring patterns of thought, that you confront them; each one. Discuss your emotional thoughts with your logical self. Confront means respond to emotional thoughts in your head with logical answers that resonate with you.
I’d like to show you what this healthy dialogue could look like, so you have an example of how you could to confront your own body demons. My personal Body Journal’s number one pattern is that I think my chest is too large. My cup size has gone up as my hormone levels are going down, and I was unhappy with every part of this development. I may never get to the place where I think my chest is attractive as I age. But, this exercise isn’t about adopting a delusion that I am 25 years old with small, perky breasts. This is an exercise in acceptance of where I am today. I do this in the name of the higher purpose of feeling comfortable in my body.
Here I respond logically to my negative internal thoughts about my chest:
- My breasts look just like my mom, what did I expect would happen?
- Just because I think this letter on my bra size is large, doesn’t mean it is. There are lots of people who have bigger chests and larger cup sizes walking around.
I mentioned you have to find logic that actually resonates with you or this approach doesn’t work. Here’s what resonates with me:
- First and foremost, I don’t have breast cancer. My grandmother and my aunt had both had breast cancer. My Aunt Jenny died of breast cancer. Some of my friends and relatives have had to undergo mastectomies. I understand my complaint is about a cup size, and not a health issue.
- Since I am unwilling to subject myself to a breast reduction, for so many reasons, my choice is, either I can accept my self with this chest or be unhappy each and every time I look in the mirror for the rest of my natural life.
Nana would advise me to, “Chose the option that is a better way to spend your time and is good for your mental health.” So that is what my internal discussion looks like. You see it took quite a bit of intentional conversation. But that was how much discussion was needed. I have needed to repeat this many time when I have negative thoughts about my chest. And, it actually works. I am able to walk around the locker room a bit more free and easy, not because I think I look fabulous and perky, but because this is me, and this will do fine.
"To love yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment." --Ralph Waldo Emerson
- Linda Bacon and Lucy Aphramor, Body Respect, 2014.
- Paul Campos, The Diet Myth, 2005.
- Carolyn Costin, Your Dieting Daughter, 2013 (2nd edition).
- Carolyn Costin and Gwen Schubert Grabb, 8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder Workbook, 2017.
- Renee Engeln, Beauty Sick, 2017.
- Judith Matz and Ellen Frankel, Beyond a Shadow of a Diet, 2014 (2nd edition).
- Susie Orbach, Fat is a Feminist Issue, 2006 (2nd edition).
- Rachel Simmons, Enough As She Is, 2018.
- Julia V. Taylor, The Body Image Workbook for Teens, 2014.
- Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works, 2012 (2nd edition). I boil down some of the essence of this book to 8 steps in MyBodyMySelf Post-its.
- Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch,Intuitive Eating Workbook: 10 Principles for Nourishing a Healthy Relationship with Food, 2017.
Favorite Podcast: Cristy Harrison's FoodPscyhe.
Favorite Blogger: Isabel Foxen Duke, Stop Fighting Food. If you are interested, google Isabel on YouTube; she does lots of interviews with host of different podcasts.
TEDx Adeliade: Taryn Brumfitt: Stop hating your body; Start living your life. Click here.