Despite the conversation about body acceptance and love attracting more interest over the last decade, according to SingleCare, cases of eating disorders grew from 3.4% to 7.8% in 2020 globally. If you’ve watched the Netflix documentary ‘The Social Dilemma’, you might also remember the staggering statistics revealing the link between the self-harm increase in teenagers and the rise of social media.
It’s scary and devastating.
So, why we don’t love our bodies?
When we were born and most of us were chubby babies, we loved our bodies. We’d play with every part of it without judgment or any belief about whether it was worthy of love or not. Back then, we loved our little body.
But as we were growing up and understood what our culture considers ‘beautiful’ and ‘worthy of admiration or positive attention’, this love started fading away. We were sold this idea of perfection and we couldn’t fit in it.
So, we’ve decided. Our body wasn’t worthy of love anymore.
Especially women are deeply conditioned to accept themselves only through socially approved lenses of beauty. ‘I will feel beautiful when my cellulite disappers,’ or ‘I’m not as sexy because my breasts are not that big’ are thoughts we’ve all had. We often try to mould ourselves into a certain ‘ideal’ shape and we even hop from diet to diet, but rarely getting the results we want.
Why is that? Because what we’re really looking for isn’t a body change but to regain our capacity to love ourselves and our bodies again.
The problem is that self-love can’t be found in diets or in small containers of anti-cellulite or anti-wrinkle creams. That’s why we’re stuck in vicious cycles of self-improvement that lead to no or only superficial improvement, but it changes nothing when it comes to how we feel about ourselves and our bodies.
That’s why now more than ever is important to intentionally change the relationship with our bodies, instead of allowing the messages we’re constantly getting from outside to control how we see or feel about it.
Here are my recommendations:
1. Appreciate your body now
Can you image waking up one day, looking yourself in the mirror and appreciating EVERYTHING that you see in it?
Can you imagine going back to this self-love or even ignorance state you’d be in when you were a baby, and you just accepted yourself as you were? Without any need for correction, other than conscious changes that come from a place of love – not shame or ‘not enoughness’.
You even welcome new features and changes. You’re not afraid of them anymore, but you appreciate their presence because they show you that you’re alive (as opposed to getting older).
How would you feel if you knew that you are enough as you are? What would change if you started appreciating your legs, your arms, your heart, your organs and your body as a whole for working very hard daily to keep you alive?
This would be revolutionary, right?
I’d love to invite you to start speaking some words of love, gratitude and appreciation to your body daily. The same way you’d speak to a child or a dear friend of yours, start speaking to your body with the same care and tenderness.
If you turn it into a practice, your body will start listening and when it does, you’ll no longer need to make decisions from fear or shame anymore.
2. Look after your body
Looking after our bodies and having a healthy lifestyle to the best of our ability is important.
No doubt about it.
However, there’s a very interesting paradox when it comes to body changes. The more ashamed we feel about how we look, the more likely it is that we’ll sabotage every attempt to create healthier habits and stick to them, whether they are nutrition or fitness habits.
The other thing that’s very common when we try to change our body is becoming addicted to a healthy lifestyle to the extend we deprive ourselves of actually having a life and fun experiences.
These are cases whereby shame has led to body changes, but what actually happened is that an addiction to cake or to diets has been replaced by an addiction to going to the gym.
Addiction, no matter what we’re addicted to, is a sign that we’re still looking for a distraction from our emotions – it’s a way to numb what feels uncomfortable.
So an addiction to going to the gym might give us our ‘dream body’, but if we don’t look deeper and heal our shame, we’re still as far from living a fulfilling life and loving ourselves, as we used to be.
3. Go deep and heal yourself
No diet, no gym or body cream can ever give us what we all crave and look for – love. Wanting to look good and feeling confident is healthy – there’s no problem with that. This desire becomes an issue when it turns into an obsession. Obsessing over how we look is a sign that we need to go deep and do the inner work.
There were times in your life you accepted the belief that you’re not worthy of love, that you’re not enough as you are. This might have been directly linked to your body or not at all. Often our bodies become the parts of ourselves we project other unhealed wounds on. For example, eating disorders often have their roots in the relationship with our caregivers or even sexual abuse.
There’s no small or insignificant trauma. All traumas deserve attention and need to be cared for.
I don’t care how you choose to heal – whether you choose to heal within a community, work with a therapist or a coach. I just want you to do it.
You deserve a good life and abundance in all good things, but most of all you deserve to love yourself again… and this love can only be accessed through healing.
Remember that the path towards loving your body and self is a process. Honour your personal timeline and where you are right now. Be gentle with yourself and prioritise your well-being above everything else.
You freakin’ deserve this!