Have you ever looked in the mirror and thought "my (~insert body part here~) is wrong" or "I really need to fix my flaws on my body"? Often followed by thoughts of your next weight loss diet or foods to avoid. Most of us have 🙋 and with the constant reminders of what an ideal body looks like, it's no wonder we are constantly unhappy with our bodies.
Deciding we will "fix our flaws" by manipulating our bodies can be a response to keep us feeling safe in a world that is obsessed with an ideal body. But, it will also keep us trapped in a dieting cycle.
How feeling flawed can affect you
When we feel we have a flaw that can be ~and needs to be~ fixed to make us a better person, we are encouraged to spend a huge portion of our time and mental energy on fixing our flaws. We are fed an idea that once we achieve a body that is deemed ideal by society, the rest will fall into place.
With our time and energy focused on fixing our body, we become more and more wrapped up in our appearance and the worth our appearance creates.
The more we focus on our body as flawed and the more time and energy we place on monitoring our body, the more imperfections we will notice.
Rather than leading to feeling better and confident in ourselves, this way of viewing our body will lead to low confidence and feeling not enough. And this has massive flow on effects to all areas of our lives.
Where does your perception of your body really come from?
Consider the images you see in the media, on TV shows, in healthcare messaging and everywhere else. They portray a very narrow body type as ideal or "healthy" (also translated as more "worthy"). Often other body types are excluded or portrayed as negative character types. But, is there really such a narrow type of body among humans?
Companies selling us weight loss and beauty products exacerbate these ideals further. To sell to us they have to make us feel we have something wrong with our body that can be easily fixed by buying their products.
Then there's the increased pressure on women to look a particular way which have become more extreme since women's rights have increased. Making us so focused on our appearance leaves us less mental capacity to focus on our careers and social connection.
An activity to ditch your flaws!
We are more than our bodies even though this might feel hard to believe in such an image focused world.
1. Notice the messages around you which make you feel not good enough. Where are they coming from and what is their agenda?
2. Reframe these messages or thoughts you have.
- Why do you believe your tummy is flawed?
- Are normal tummies really represented in the media in all their diversity?
- What is the consequence of spending your time trying to achieve a "perfect tummy" (~or insert body part of concern here~).
3. Use these moments to engage yourself in a different narrative. For example, counter-act these messages and thoughts with a body positive podcast, book or social media account or join reclaiming your food freedom for support to develop food and body peace.
What does this have to do with food freedom?
More often than not, our issues with food arise from our concerns with our bodies. We connect what we eat as being able to manipulate our body (even though it is much more complex than this). But to find food freedom, one of the most important underlying steps is to develop a respectful relationship with our body, in all its diversity.
Can you challenge yourself to reframe your thoughts around your body from "flawed" to "normal in world of diverse body shapes and sizes"?
Written by Emma Townsin, Registered Dietitian and Certified Intuitive Eating Counsellor
Emma is the founder of Food Life Freedom and the host of the Food & Life Freedom Podcast. For personalised support to stop stressing over health and heal your relationship with food and your body, learn how you can fast track your way food and life freedom.
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