Our body image obsession: 4 ways to approach the issue
Is it just me, or are we all a bit obsessed with how the body looks? It seems like everywhere I turn, people are talking about it? Social media is flooded with before and after photos of men and women who are showing us their semi naked bodies. Fitspo, weight loss journeys, post baby transformations etc. I see post baby weight loss photos. I also see images of women embracing their new ‘mum-bods’: celebrating their new muffin tops and saggy boobs. Go you! And I must say, I honestly do feel pride when I see people succeed in their goals. And I do enjoy a positive body image movement from time to time.
I too have been guilty of caring about how my body looks at times. I know we are feeling the pressure from all angles, but WHY do we care so much? It seems like such a ridiculous thing to obsess over. There is such a fine line between healthy goal setting and weight obsession.
Since having my tiny human exit my body I have gained a new appreciation for what the human body is capable of. To be honest, my relationship with my body has never been better despite being significantly heavier than my pre-baby days. And I can honestly say I’m fine with it. Most days. (“…Who cares Kendall? Why are you discussing your weight again?”)
What I have noticed is that every second person seems to be obsessed with my weight and how my body looks. It’s comments aplenty around here! No one is criticising my body, the remarks are always positive and have very good intentions to make me feel great. I appreciate that. And I too have commented on others’ post baby weight loss in the past with nothing but good intentions. If you’re someone who has done the same there is no need to feel guilty! I’m just wondering why we feel that weight is worthy of discussion?
Regardless of whether we are discussing or ‘following’ positive body image movements or negatively discussing our weight with our friends, either way, isn’t this feeding an unhealthy focus on a very superficial part of ourselves? Isn’t there so much more to our individual, unique identities?
Even the ‘thin and fabulous’ are guilty of having unhealthy relationships with their bodies. There are now plenty of ex-body builders and fitness models who have come forward about how much their mental health suffered from obsessing over how their bodies looked.
I’ve been reflecting about this a lot since my body has become such a hot topic of conversation amongst friends and family. I’ve noticed how ‘normal’ it is for us to burn through hours of conversation about weight loss and how unhappy we are with our bodies. It seems as though women in particular are obsessed with this as a conversation topic. Often it’s either putting ourselves down in regards to how our bodies look or constantly commenting on other women’s weight. And we all know celebrities are a huge targets for this.
I’m a big believer that the more we discuss things like this, the greater the power they have over us. If we are continually discussing money, it eventually rules our minds. If we angrily discuss all that is wrong with our Government and politics, it too takes over our minds and emotions. The more we complain about how stressful and busy our lives are, the more stressed and busy we feel! It is the same with the way we view our bodies.
Here are four suggestions for overcoming this body image obsession:
Stop commenting on weight- your own or anyone else’s
Where possible, try to avoid discussions about body weight. Of course there is nothing wrong with telling someone they’re looking great! I’m talking about the ongoing conversations about it. And if you’re guilty of putting yourself down, choose to speak positively about yourself which don’t centre around your weight. Anything else! And divert conversations with friends that are about body weight.
If friends are putting themselves down in regards to their weight or discussing wanting to lose weight, offer a genuine yet discrete compliment and subtly change the conversation. Don’t make them or yourself feel bad, we are after all conditioned to discuss and obsess over these things, it requires time to gradually shift our thinking. Just try to change the topic to something more positive.
Throw away the bathroom scales
It is true that weight is just a number. What difference does it make if you gain or lose a few kilos? It’s not a part of who you are. Having bathroom scales can contribute to weight obsession. Make a decision to stop weighing yourself regularly. Again, identify something positive about yourself and move on with your day.
Focus on what your body CAN do
Health goals that centre around weight are rarely sustainable. If you’re chasing a more healthy body, focus on what your body CAN do, rather than how it looks. For me, my motivation is to be able to carry my baby without back pain. This motivates my ‘fitspo’ and gym workouts. And I see much quicker improvements with my back and self esteem, so at the end of the day I can high five my husband that I was able to rock my child to sleep without any pain.
Our bodies are the most magnificent pieces of machinery on the planet. They can do so much and are worthy of praise for that!
Review social media
I’ve mentioned this before, but be careful with the accounts you’re following online. Whether it be celebrity accounts that make us feel less than, or my personal favourite- fitspo accounts. I’ve made a commitment to only follow fitness accounts that celebrate fitness goals and show videos or photos which focus on what the body can do. Accounts flooded with mirror selfies with abs and intimate bikini shots do not have a positive impact on me personally. If this is you too, contemplate doing the same. Ask yourself- what message is this sending? If it’s not a positive message, hit ‘unfollow’.
So remember, there is so much more to us than our weight. Decide to see past it and commit to overcoming this boring topic of conversation. Okay, that’s it, I’m not mentioning it again…
Interested in more of Kendall’s posts? Click here
Kendall lives and works for health and fitness. She believes that eating right and moving your body equals a healthy mind. She also believes that cheese deserves its own food group.