What If I Don’t Like My Body Shape?
This month we are focusing on loving and appreciating our bodies just as they are, right now, TODAY. It sounds like an impossible goal, but it’s important to look at where these feelings come from.
Were we born disliking our bodies? No. These messages are fed to us constantly by the media, the diet industry, the fitness industry, and too many others. They make money by telling us we have a problem, and then generously offering to solve it for us with their products!
This article and the video below are taken from the Stunning Style Weekly Style Snack! Join us Wednesdays at 1pm ET on the Stunning Style Facebook page or the FREE Capsule Wardrobes for Classic Style Facebook Group.
Say Yes To You
When I took my first body shape course, I KNEW I was a pear. I’ve always known it. But I WANTED to be a rectangle because of the shaming messages I’ve received about curvy thighs, hips, and bottoms. I have a pretty straight waist, and when I took my measurements and I tried to make them come out the way I wanted, focusing on that one body part. I thought if I could make the numbers say I had a different body shape, my dressing challenges would magically disappear.
Even though it isn’t what I wanted to hear, by accepting my real shape I’ve learned what I truly need to know to dress my proportions in the most balanced and flattering way, as well as make shopping easier.
It’s likely you also have a preconceived idea or wish of the body shape you are or want to be, and it can be a shock to discover you are something else. Sometimes our internal identities are wrapped up in this and it can feel like being stripped of who we are in a way.
Not only that, but shaming messages about our own body shape or that of others can give us biases. If a female relative or friend criticized her own body shape and you have the same one, you can grow up believing it’s bad and hold onto that for life. By shaming herself she was shaming you. That’s another reason we don’t talk ugly about ourselves in the group. When you criticize yourself, you are criticizing others who look like you.
Maybe you don’t want to have a rectangle shape because you were teased for not being curvy enough, and maybe you got too much attention for your curves and would rather be a rectangle. Maybe you desperately want to be an hourglass because society has been holding that up as a standard, or you admire the gorgeous , shapely legs of an apple body shape, or the fabulous shoulders and toned frame of an inverted triangle.
Your body shape, your size, or your measurements do not define you, your worth, or your value. Our purpose here is to make getting dressed easier and fun, to help you feel confident and love your body.
Address the body shaming thoughts
Especially as women, we are bombarded by messages about how our bodies SHOULD look, and it changes from decade to decade. If you were born with the body shape du jour, lucky you! If not…welcome to a lifetime of berating, punishing, and torturing yourself for not measuring up. AND THEN…if the messages from society weren’t bad enough…we do it to each other.
The nasty comments that used to be saved for backstabbing gossip are now shared openly on social media. A dose of key-board courage and the anonymity of a screen seems to make people feel like it’s ok to share their unsolicited thoughts on other people’s, well, everything. But specifically, their bodies. What they would never say to someone’s face, they now feel comfortable sharing in a public forum.
It also comes in the form of well-intended advice from those who love us. Like I said last week, I was all knees and elbows until I was in my twenties. When I started to fill out, a well-meaning female relative came up one day, patted me on the thighs and said, “That didn’t used to be there. Do yourself a favor and get it under control now.” What?
Ladies! We have to stop this! And it starts by changing how we speak to ourselves. If you can’t speak kindly to and about yourself, then you can’t speak kindly to and about others. You might be thinking, “Yes I can!” But I’m going to show you why it matters.
I had been body shamed through my teen years for having no curves, and now I was being body shamed having ONE CURVE. I couldn’t win! Was she trying to hurt my feelings or be cruel? No. She thought she was doing me a favor, but she wasn’t.
Those words came from her place of insecurity about her own body. She felt bad about her thighs, and in her mind, it meant I would feel bad about my thighs. Her words were meant as a warning to head off a future of shameful curvy thighs, but rather than helping me, all it did was make me feel self-conscious about something I hadn’t given any thought to.
There was nothing wrong with that curve in my thighs then, there is nothing wrong with that curve in my thighs now, and there was nothing wrong with my thighs when they didn’t have that curve!
She infected me with her shame, like sharing a bacterial infection. How do you avoid sharing bacteria? You cleanse yourself first. Address the shaming thoughts you think about your body. Becoming aware of them is the first step. It might require the help of a therapist of a coach to help you work through those thoughts, but if you can start by acknowledging they are there and recognizing where they come from, it’s the first step.
When I was a little girl, I remember my parents talking to another couple, and the husband, who was a notorious jokester, said to my dad, “I can tell you must love trains, that’s why you married a woman with a big caboose!” And while he was in stitches, my parents weren’t laughing.
I had never given the size of my mother’s bottom, or anyone else’s bottom, a second thought. It wasn’t big and it wasn’t small. It just WAS. And looking back now I can tell you my mother has a lovely, curvy pear shape with a lovely, full bottom.
I have no idea if that moment stood out to my mom, but it stood out to me. It’s the first moment I remember someone being body shamed and I could tell by the look on my parents’ faces that they didn’t think it was funny.
Let's Stand Together
When you say negative things about your body out loud, how does that affect other women around you? What if they have the same body shape or physical feature you are shaming about your body? What message are you sending to them? If yours is horrible, what does that make theirs?
What are the shaming thoughts you have about other women’s bodies? What do you say about them in your mind? What do you say to them to other women? And I don’t even want to think about what you might say to them in person or on social media.
Other people’s bodies are NONE OF OUR BUSINESS. Unless someone is endangering themselves, keep it to yourself. We have no right to comment on another person’s body, whether you think they are too thin, too heavy, you don’t like their elbows or their fingernails.
Because of my job, I put my pictures on the internet, and I’m always shocked at how many people feel like they have a right, no, an OBLIGATION, to tell me what they think of my appearance. I usually let it roll off my back, but on the wrong day at the wrong time, the right comment can be really hurtful.
One lady told me how ugly my knees are and I should keep them covered up. That might be my favorite one ever. I mean. They are knees! Knees are…knees. They aren’t ugly or beautiful. They just…are. They bend, they straighten, they walk me places. Maybe she didn’t like the scar on one of my knees, but it doesn’t bother me. It’s proof that I was stronger than something that tried to break me. But how are my knees any of her business? And how is any part of any person’s body your business? It’s not.
We are better than that, ladies. Let’s stand together, lift one another, strengthen and support each other. Let’s celebrate the unique beauty of each of our bodies, and it starts by celebrating our own.
Why this month is so important
Loving and appreciating your body is a journey, and it’s so easy to backslide. That’s why I’m reinforcing these body positivity messages all month long, and these conversations are so important for that. This new mini course is just another tool I’m offering to help you on this journey. Time is running out to enroll at the special launch price of $27, click here to learn more.
2 thoughts on “How We Can Combat Body Shaming”
Yep! We had dinner with some of my husband’s friends. Mind you, the husband weighed well over 350 pounds, for as long as we’d known them. Then he had lap band surgery, and lost a lot of weight. He has kept it off. Kudos to him! When we were getting ready to leave their home, the wife pulled me aside, and said, “Kid, you are really pretty, but you need to lose weight.” I was speechless! There were a number of things I could have said back to her, but its not me. So I just said “I know.” Grrrrr.
I never thought about the comments I make about my own body, as infusing how others feel about theirs! Thank you for this.
Dear April, How true your writings about shape are. Whoever you are or whatever your shape is nobody is perfect. That doesn’t matter. I have to say that you always look stunning and for someone who has had six babies your figure is very good. I enjoy all your posts ,keep up the encouragement, and best wishes to you with your advice. It is helpful to many including me.