And additional tips to learning to love our bodies properly
2020 has no doubt been a challenging year full of change on all levels, whether that change be personal, communal or systemic. People are using this pandemic to recognize, acknowledge and work toward changing some of the short-comings of what was once our reality. It comes as no secret or surprise that we are (still) in a pandemic and, at least for America, it doesn’t seem we’ll be getting “back to normal” anytime soon. However, perhaps it’s good we aren’t getting back to many of the things considered normal pre-pandemic and instead embracing the necessary change to come out of the chaos; particularly, embracing the way we re-imagine weight gain.
Gaining weight has long had a negative stigma in western/American culture. Weight gain has often been seen as an indication of laziness and gluteny as well as a display of becoming unattractive or undesirable. This pandemic has allowed me to fully realize the normalization of body dysmorphia, eating disorders and fat-phobia on social media and in diet and fitness culture. Now, I’m working towards unpacking some of the ways the aforementioned stigmas have caused harm to myself and others.
For example, many influencers on Instagram promote eating disorders, to their often young audience, in the form of laxative teas and meal replacement drinks. Additionally, fitness and diet culture demonize normal foods and ingredients like bread, carbs, sugar, salt and fat. This all contributes to a larger societal problem that views fatness and larger bodies as inherently bad; therefore, highlighting fat bodies, or any food or ingredients that could cause a person to gain weight, as a point of undesirability. This culture centered around demonizing fat bodies and praising skinny bodies causes people to literally be afraid to gain weight out of fear of shame from others or societal ostracization.
Since being stuck at home from the pandemic, people have tried to use this opportunity to lose weight for a “post quarantine glow up.” However, losing weight during a pandemic has proved difficult for many given looming uncertainties and too much time on their hands, time best spent learning to cook and bake our favorite “unhealthy” foods: bread, desserts, alcoholic beverages, etc.
With this post, I want to emphasize- it’s okay if you haven’t reached the weight loss goals you set for yourself in March. It’s okay if your body has gotten larger from a little more indulgence in the food that makes you happy. Weight gain is not inherently bad, in fact it’s perfectly normal.
I’m always learning ways to unpack my internal biases as well as be more accepting of myself and others. Here are some of the ways I’ve learned to love my body through its many changes throughout the years:
Learning to love your body
Speak positive affirmations about yourself:
Positive affirmations are positive phrases or statements that challenge negative thoughts. There has been psychological studies behind the effects of this practice. Through speaking positive affirmations, instead of allowing others or societal standards to dictate your sense of self, you learn to gain autonomy of your own narrative or self identity.
Honor your body with forgiveness:
Our bodies are fluid and there is nothing wrong with that. From one year to the next, your body may be smaller, bigger, or unvaried. Learning to forgive your body for doing what it does naturally helps to avoid succumbing to unwavering body standards that don’t align with how bodies actually work.
Take a social media break:
Lastly, take a break from Instagram and other apps that push monolithic beauty standards on their explore page. As social media has grown throughout my childhood, this is the step I find most important as an adult. The occasional break from social media will help in the department of toxic comparisons. Social media can be a slippery slope in this regard.
Constantly comparing yourself to others, or even comparing yourself to a version of your past self that isn’t how you look anymore, will only hinder your self-esteem. It is important to consume social media content in intervals because it allows more time for reflection, practicing some of that forgiveness mentioned earlier and appreciating all that you are in the moment.
I want every reader to acknowledge that your body has kept you alive thus far and to honor it by just being kinder to yourself. You’re not less attractive for having a bigger body, smaller body, or unchanged body since the start of this pandemic. Our bodies are our forever home that deserve love, not toxic societal pressure, especially amid a global pandemic.