Body shaming: We’ve all been there. Whether happens alone, within a group of girlfriends, in a dressing room or poolside in our bikinis, at one point or another, we’ve sat around ruthlessly picking our bodies apart grabbing at every “extra” inch of fat and pointing out every spot of cellulite.
Think of the scene in "Mean Girls," when Gretchen pouts in front of the mirror as she states that her “calves are huge” and Regina doesn’t miss a beat, chiming in seconds later about her “man shoulders” and resulting inability to wear halter tops.
We call attention to our “trouble areas” and express dissatisfaction with certain parts of our bodies, all the while secretly hoping those around us will join in on the negative self-identification.
Body shaming often creates a bonding effect among women, as we find comfort in shared flaws and hatred for our shapes. We use this bond to justify the unhealthy and addicting behavior that it truly is.
It’s time we jump off the body-shaming bandwagon; it’s time to stop focusing our energy on what we dislike about our figures and start highlighting not only what we enjoy about our figures, but more importantly, about our whole lives.
Who we are as human beings — our passions, our loves and the inner workings of our souls — extends far beneath the surface of what our exterior appearance provides.
So, why do we place so much emphasis and lend so much negative time and energy to shaming our bodies when they are truly just the tip of the iceberg to our entire character?
Old habits die hard and I know that this is easier to say than do. Hell, I used to be the lead conductor on the body-shaming bandwagon, constantly complaining about how “fat” I felt. But, enough is enough. We must jump off this bandwagon and shut the f*ck up.
Here are five reasons why we need to abandon the body-shaming bandwagon for good:
1. It’s a lose-lose situation -- every time.
Whether you stand in front of the mirror alone or rope your roommates into the body-shaming session with you, the outcome is always negative.
Engaging in conversations that are centered on how much your thighs jiggle or how much weight you’ve gained will only result in a loss. When it comes to negative conversations and complaints of “the need” to lose weight, the only thing we’re truly losing is self-esteem.
Think of it this way: No group of women looks around at one another after a long body-shaming session and says, “Wow. I’m so glad we just did that.” It's a lose-lose situation -- every time.
2. Confidence is sexy.
Plain and simple, confidence is sexy. Nothing screams “lack of confidence” like a girl who constantly complains about how pudgy her stomach looks in her bikini. Own your body for what it is and how it looks in this moment.
It’s perfectly fine to have fitness or weight-loss goals, but it's vital that we learn to appreciate our bodies as they are, no matter how close or far they are from the ultimate “goal.” Women who radiate confidence also radiate beauty, regardless of their jean size.
3. It’s selfish.
Practicing gratitude is one of the healthiest things we can do for ourselves. It is selfish to place so much focus on the negatives when life is bursting with positive people, opportunities and privileges for which to be grateful.
If you are a living, breathing, healthy human, rather than fixate on your lack of a thigh gap or extra arm fat, you should be thanking your lucky stars every single day that you have a body that can do pretty much anything and everything your heart desires.
When we focus on everything we wish we could change about our bodies, we take for granted all of the incredible things we are able to experience.
4. You’re setting a bad example.
The people who surround us, especially when we are young, often leave lasting impacts on our character and habits.
A little girl — or even an older one — who observes your dissatisfied face in the mirror as you look at your legs, watches as you pull at the fat on your stomach or hears you say how much you hate your arms, will internalize those actions in some way or another.
Be it conscious or subconscious, we all pick up our habits somewhere and mimic actions we viewed in the past. Negative body image and body-shaming habits are highly influential and adapted much more easily than we assume.
5. Positivity is contagious; if you jump off the bandwagon, chances are others will, too.
Be the friend to make a change, to put an end to a bad habit that does nothing but bring you and others down. Rather than partaking or contributing to the negativity of group body shaming, empower one another.
We should be celebrating our successes, instead of complaining about our problems. This applies to all elements of life, not just body image. Take a stand; don’t jump on the body-shaming bandwagon.
If someone else is trying to take a journey into self-shame city, make the conscious decision to ignore the comments. Better yet, share with the person that the negative attitudes are creating a toxic environment. No one wants to be the toxic friend and chances are, his or her body-shaming comments will begin to dwindle after you say your peace.
We only have so much space in our minds, and life is too short to waste it with negative thoughts regarding our bodies. Our thoughts create our realities, so why not choose positive ones?
Photo Courtesy: We Heart It