All Things Body Image
Updated: Apr 21
Body image is a crazy complex topic to talk about. There’s so much to it and so much I have to say around the subject. Bear with me on this one. It’s SO important to talk about it and it baffles me that we are so consumed with hating our bodies and just consumed with thinking about negative body image on a daily basis.
Last year when I was running the Detroit Marathon, I was baffled by the thought that I used to be so consumed with how my body looked or nit picked pieces of myself apart. In that moment, every part of my body was aching. It was around miles 16-20, where you’re over halfway done but definitely not quite to the finish line yet. I remember thinking HOW was my body still moving? It was amazing that my body was still carrying me, moving me forward to reach a goal I had worked so hard to achieve. There was so much pain but in the months leading up to race day, I had nurtured and taken care of my body. I showed it love and respect by fueling it properly and allowing my body to do its job.
Our bodies are SO complex, it’s amazing. They are so much smarter than we think.
When I was in college, I battled an eating disorder- which completely destroyed the way I viewed my body. I spent so much time hating myself, especially when I was in the hospital at my worst point. It took so much time reconstructing my perspective and appreciation for my body. When I was in treatment, of course a huge focus was redirecting that negative body image into developing a positive body image. We not only learned positive self talk and ways to stop comparing ourselves to others, but how our body functions as well. We learned all about carbs, fats and proteins to truly understand how our body works and appreciate the work it’s doing on the inside.
In a world filled with diet culture, fitness and weight loss- of course we’re thinking of these things and have developed negative body image!! Now, I definitely believe these can be discussed in a positive light, however, so I don’t want to dismiss that. Fitness and weight loss have been so positive for a lot of people and with anything, it can be discussed in a good way. But we’re bombarded by “quick fixes” and diet hacks and “do this” and “do that” or “this food is bad and this food is good” and there are so many products out there that are marketed to aid in weight loss or suppress your hunger, it’s so overwhelming. It’s so overwhelming that we never feel like anything we do is good enough, because we constantly compare ourselves to others.
Our society heavily promotes a very specific beauty ideal and basically wants us to drop everything and do anything and everything you can to achieve this ideal. It’s so unrealistic to try to morph ourselves into a beauty ideal that was given to an individual. It’s unrealistic to try to change to be anything other than ourselves. We were all created so differently, so whether it’s a beauty ideal or certain body type that isn’t your own you’re trying to achieve, it may never feel good enough because it might not be the body type you were born with. We’re so generated now to walk into a room and immediately compare ourselves with the person next to you or the really pretty girl across the room. But guess what? She has a completely different life than and her body has completely different needs. You could be feeling like a rock star and the second someone you’re comparing yourself to suggests something or begins to tell you about their eating habits or fitness routine or where they shop for clothes, you feel like you’re doing it all wrong. You could be CRUSHING your fitness goals and prepared to run that half marathon next week, but because we’re so hard on ourselves and get caught up in comparison, if someone suggests that cardio is “bad” and they only lift weights, in our minds, all of our hard work may mean shit.
I’m speaking from experience here, and this isn’t everyone nor does it happen all the time. Maybe four years ago I would have felt this way, but since then have been able to work through the negative body image and self talk. But I still think it happens to a lot of us in some capacity. Unless I’m just completely miss the ball, hopefully you get what I’m trying to say!
Now don’t get me wrong, I totally support wanting to change your body. BUT that comes with stipulations- are you fueling your body properly? Do you have the right mindset? Are you doing this for yourself? If you want to go to the gym and lean out your body- develop abs, arm muscles, lose weight etc. have at it. It’s great to have goals in the gym or outside the gym, whatever it may be. But do it because you know it’s what’s best for your body and what it wants, all while still taking care of your body and not thinking/comparing yourself to something unattainable. Doing it because you love it and want to be your best and healthiest self- whatever that definition may be.
One of my favorite sayings is that change is our greatest consistency. Just like life, our bodies are constantly changing. We try so hard to maintain consistency and build up a routine, but everything is in a constant state of change! Routine and schedule are amazing, but recognizing that change is inevitable and that your body has a mind of its own is so freeing. Learn to love the changes within you body and let that lead to more days of positive body image and less of the negative.
Your body is complex and smart, constantly changing and has the ability to propel you through life and fuel you to live it out to the fullest. Your body is yours and it’s unique! No one has one just like it- and that’s special.