Body Kindness Check In
If you feel like you’re being drawn into a negative, judgemental attitude about your body right now, you’re not alone. As an exercise teacher, lately I have definitely observed a lot more negative comments from people about their own bodies and people expressing that they feel sheepish about "not doing enough".
The end of the year can get us feeling nostalgic or maybe have us assessing “how we did” over the last 365 days. It’s not unusual to start comparing December 2022 us to January 2022 us, and to then get judgemental and critical about whether or not we met our own expectations. In fact, that’s something that a lot of advertising and marketing is encouraging us to do, and those marketers will take advantage of our dismay or dissatisfaction by encouraging us to purchase their products and programs.
In addition, during this time of year, many of us are spending an increased amount of time with people who might be outside of our everyday social circle, and not everyone in your workplace or extended family may share your body-positive perspectives. You may be getting invited to more fancy social events and having your photo taken more often. Sadly, it is really, really common and normalized for people to make fatphobic, inconsiderate, and harmful remarks about their own bodies and your body during the holiday season/year end, and there can be some very weird things that come up from others about food and exercise. (I’ve already heard about quite a few unfortunate experiences from our clients already… Yikes)
That can be really hard to navigate socially, but it can also make it hard to keep a positive attitude about yourself and your body. That can be especially true if you’re grappling with feeling like you haven’t "pushed yourself enough" athletically or if you’ve gained weight over the past year or if you feel like you’re more “out of shape” than society tells you that you should be in order to be worthy. Even if you don't celebrate the holidays, if you're recovering from disordered eating or a disordered relationship with exercise, this time of year can be particularly rough on your mental health, because we're constantly being reminded of diets, thinness, physical accomplishments, and body comparisons nearly everywhere we turn.
Your value doesn’t come from external factors (including how you look)
This might be a good time to remind you that your value doesn’t come from external factors (including how you look), and not all types of growth, accomplishments, and good qualities are things that are visible to others or things that will show up in a photo. Even health isn't something that's visible to others. Try to dwell more on the things you’re proud of that you’ve invested your energy into over the last year, like maybe listening to your body more, nourishing your mental health, trying new things, learning new things, and growing as a person. Try to avoid comparing yourself (and your body) to others. You don’t need to justify your body’s worth to anybody.
Also, as a reminder to everyone, everywhere: DON'T COMMENT ON OTHER PEOPLE'S BODIES.
As an additional reminder: Do not compliment weight loss. You don't know the circumstances around that person's apparent weight loss, and your "compliment" may not be helpful. (For example, some of the most painful and harmful "compliments" I received about my body's thinness were when I was struggling to recover from my eating disorder... Yikes. Don't be that person.)
And while we're at it, don't comment on what people are eating either. Or how much of it they're eating.
We might not be able to change the advertising and messaging we're exposed to and we might not be able to change the opinions and perspectives of the people around us, but at least being aware of our environment and what may be triggering negative thoughts can help us keep perspective and perhaps take extra effort to counteract that negativity with self-care.
If you can, for the next few weeks, I encourage you to lean into rest, relaxation, and self-care as much as you can so that we can go into 2023 feeling as grounded and fresh as possible.
You're nearly there!
Note: If you find that you're struggling with body image or disordered eating right now and you would appreciate some resources to support yourself over the next few weeks, please feel welcome to reach out. We'd be happy to send some your way!