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Take a break from body-negativity (it’s good for you!)

Woman dancing by the sea
Woman dancing by the sea

We live in a body negative culture. Collectively, women’s bodies are too fat, too thin, too tall, too short, too rounded, too muscley, too flabby, too differently abled, too stretched, too pregnant or they’re the wrong colour. For a hot minute, thinness was in, but beauty ideals keep on changing and now the messaging about what’s ‘beautiful’ is getting more complicated.

A lot of industries thrive on women feeling like we’re not enough as we are. The idea that we need to ‘fix’ something about our bodies and appearance is key to most advertising and it filters into how we think about what we wear, what we do, how we exercise and how we eat.

So how do we change this? Obviously, step one is to continue to dismantle the patriarchy. But while we’re doing that, it’s also worth giving ourselves a break from the constant barrage of body-negativity. Maybe taking a break from body negativity is dismantling the patriarchy? There’s certainly a relationship between how we feel about our bodies and mental wellbeing.

So, grab a pen and a paper. It’ll just take a few minutes.

  1. Describe yourself in 100 words, focusing not on what you don’t have, but what you do have. Your shining eyes, your glittering laugh. Be generous to yourself! Be wildly generous! Compare yourself to no one.
  2. Beauty ideals are subjective. If you could come up with your own beauty ideal – what would it be?
  3. Does worry about how your body looks stop you from doing something? What’s one thing you’d like to do, that body negativity stops you doing?
  4. List five experiences, or sensations that make you happy you have a body.
  5. Do you lift, sis? Garden? Knit? Shift from thinking about how your body looks, to what your body can do. You can start by making a list of the cool stuff that your body is able to do.

Now that you’ve written your personal body-acceptance manifesto, stick it up on your wall, on the fridge, put it in the car. Remind yourself, whenever you can. You’re enough!

The questions in article have been adapted from Fariha Rósín’s book, Being In Your Body: A journal of self-love and body positivity, Ambrams, New York.