Yeah…Immaeatthat

Oct 26

The “I love my body” message (and why I hate it.)

Since fat isn’t valued in the culture we live in, I don’t think I’ll ever look in the mirror and think, “omgsh I love that fat on my arm.”  Or, “I love the way there is cellulite on that part of my thigh.” So that got me thinking…should we be focusing on loving our bodies?

I heard a quote about humility that I really connected with recently. It said humility, “isn’t thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” I think that sorta parallels nicely to what positive body image really is.  Positive body image isn’t loving your body, it’s thinking of your body less (or more neutrally) because you’re too busy living or working on creating a vibrant life.

When I think about people and things I love, those are influences in my life I think about a lot.  I love Andrew, my sisters, our parents, Maggie, my watercolor set…and because I find joy in those things I think about them a lot.   So when I come across messages saying that we should all be trying to, “love our bodies,” it never sits quite right with me.  For me, since loving something means I think about it a ton, body love isn’t what I’m going for.  I don’t want to sit around all day thinking about my body.

As I’m about to journey from pregnancy to postpartum I’m really interested to see what feelings come up for me.  During the first trimester I had feelings of feeling foreign in my body…which is a feeling that always catches me off guard and feels icky and awful and takes me back to high school and college when I never felt comfortable in my body.  These feelings typically pop up when I’m sleep deprived, going through a major life change, working too much, and self care has fallen away (<–All of those factors will be at play in the postpartum time.  ‘Working too much’ = caring for a newborn non-stop.).  I know what negative body image is.  It’s…

…so when there’s a stressor from time to time it’s easy to default to blaming your body, which is something I think we all need to be proactive in being aware of and intentionally telling our brains that, “I’m not allowed to blame my body size here…what other factors could be upsetting me right now?”.  

So I’m interested to see how I feel in my newly non-pregnant body and share about it when I’m ready to.  I imagine dressing my postpartum body is going to be similar to dressing a going-through-puberty-middle-school body (hehe)…a bit of an awkward stage where nothing quite fits and your body feels foreign from all the change.

So. What do you think about this? Do you think pursuing body love is something that is right for you? Has the body love message brought you peace in your natural body size? Or maybe is thinking about you body less because you are prioritizing your values and making sure your actions are aligning better with your values is a better approach for bringing you improved body image.

Now a few actionable steps you can take. 

If you feel really uncomfortable in your body, healing your relationship with food and exercise and building up a trust that your body knows how to feed itself and move in a way not meant to micromanage your body size can be a good place to start.  There are a lot of starting points for healing those relationships.  

  • A free option is listening to Seasons 2 and 3 of the Food Psych podcast.
  • If you already do that, the Intuitive Eating Book or The Intuitive Eating Workbook are great next steps (<–both of those are affiliate links).
  • If you’re already doing both of those things or would like a bit more guidance…I’d recommend my How to Eat Course.  Since I won’t be accepting any new clients until February and would love to support anyone in starting their journey to a more peaceful relationship with food and body NOW, starting today thru November 11th my course will be discounted by 25% using the code: GOODBYEBODYHATE 

If you feel uncomfortable in your body, you don’t have to live like that.  I feel so many women and men don’t do the right type of work to move towards feeling comfortable in their body size.  Going on a diet and focusing on becoming smaller is the wrong type of work.  Moving towards thinking about fat more neutrally and focusing on creating a more vibrant life is the right type of work.  All of the above resources will help you do that.

35 comments on “The “I love my body” message (and why I hate it.)”

  1. I agree! My goal has been to move towards “body neutral,” where I am not always hyper aware and exhaustingly positive about every feature, but rather just be thankful that my body helps me achieve my goals as a whole.

  2. I love this so much. Thank you for your constant flow of inspiration and insight!

  3. Love this post! Just what I needed to read today :)

  4. Thank you for this post! The C.S. Lewis quote is one of my favorites. I appreciate you addressing this. It’s not about loving/obsessing about our bodies more, but focusing on our bodies less. Thanks for helping refocus my priorities this morning with this post. What we love represents what we value. I will come back to this post often. Praying for a safe and healthy delivery of your baby girl!

  5. Love this! I totally agree. There’s so much more in life to do rather than sit around and think about our body size. I like your list of recommendations — Food Psych is amazing! And the workbook is awesome too!

  6. This is a great post. For me, truly learning and knowing that whatever my body looks like has nothing to do with my worth as a person was key to making peace with my body as that was a story I carried round for years. Then working to live a full life aligned to my true values (body size not being one of them) was also key to body freedom. SO yes I totally agree that moving towards thinking about fat more neutrally, focusing less on our bodies and instead on what truly matters (true values) and creating a vibrant life really is a great way for healthy body image. All that to say though, I would say that I do really love my body now but it is more of a kind of respect and appreciation of how amazing it is for pulling through all the past disordered eating and all I put it through. And also now that I am at peace with food and practice intuitive eating, how it gets on jusssst fine without me having to micro manage it or think about it. Sorry for the essay ;) Great post! 

  7. Love this post! I’ve been trying to capture how I currently feel about my body and you just nailed that feeling! I don’t like my body, even though I *know* I exist in one that society “approves” of. Trying to come to terms with that in my head was just too much of a struggle. I don’t think about how my body looks anymore, but rather how it feels. And I love feeling good! Sometimes that’s by eating a cookie and sometimes it’s going to the gym. It’s incredibly freeing– and i got to that place by reading your blog. So thank you :)

    Plus: I CANNOT WAIT FOR BABY POSTS!!!!!!

  8. I’ve survived anorexia, three pregnancies, two births, two breastfeeding journeys and I still am uncomfortable in my own skin.  My body has done remarkable things.  It has created and nourished life!!  I don’t think I will ever love my body but my hope is that I can be neutral and just not think about it so much.  

  9. LOVE this! In my disordered eating portion of my life, all I could do was think about my body. I would even be thinking about it during parts of my life where I was supposed to be having fun and living in the moment. “How does my body look? Do people think I look fat? How much larger is my body than the person next to me?” It became a very self-centered way of thinking and was not helpful in any way, shape, or form.
    Nowadays, I find I think very little about the appearance of my body at all. I certainly check in with what my body needs to function well (ie. nourishment, rest, movement, etc), but it’s no longer grounded in my appearance or what others might be thinking of it.

    Thanks for sharing! I loved this! Sharing on Instagram!

  10. I think there is space to love your body, though perhaps the love is not so much focused on the physical appearance (because, I agree, thinking about how I look does not usually make me feel better) but more on the miraculous things the body can do (like dancing to music, or going on a hike, or growing a baby!!). In those contexts I think I you can love your body (and be awed and amazed by its capabilities) for what it allows you to do in your life.

  11. I agree with you. I’ve never really been comfortable around the body positive community/movement/photos (years ago and now) and figured it was because I hate my body and wasn’t ready to start loving it. But this makes sense to me. When you’re recovering or trying to make peace with food and exercise and just ‘be’ body love can feel like another huge list of tasks that feel like failure, either because I’m not actively loving my body or because I already have enough to be thinking about. I hope that makes sense.
    Recently I think a lot less about my body because it’s becoming less of a deal to me. As long as it moves well for me, feels good for me and I am as in tune as possible at the time then surely this is good? Lol

    Thank you again and again. Hope you Raspberry, Andrew and Maggie are all good :) xx

  12. I could not agree with this MORE! I have spent the last year learning and struggling and relenting to intuitive eating and ‘loving my body’ and I got so sick and tired of constantly journaling about the things I love about myself. I also started following a lot of bopo accounts but then had to unfollow them because many of them are quite negative and angry. I just wanted to think about other things than myself and I just decided to move on with my life. It’s been helpful to think about what I really enjoyed doing when I was 10 years old (reading, writing and coloring) and allowing myself to do them. I certainly never thought much about what I should and shouldn’t eat or how much exercise I should be doing.

    Your blog has helped me immensely in moving through my disordered eating and unhelpful body image thoughts, thank you!

  13. But love only means “I see you, I accept all of you, the beautiful and the flawed, you make sense to me, you, just as you are.” People might never be ‘perfect’, and bodies are rarely perfect, but they are all unique, in flux, bodies are so much more than just a number of a scale, they keep us alive, they allow us to experience life, and they always deserve acceptance and being seen.  This is love. 

    Love is not some up-talk of “Hey, really I hate love handles, but now I am gonna pretend I like them.” It is accepting our bodies, lovingly, as a part of who we are. Because, this body is really us, there would be no life without it. How can we not be loving and grateful? Does it not deserve this love?

    • Silvia @ Living Life, I think you articulated this so beautifully. I completely agree!

    • Thanks for commenting, Silvia! I think the body deserves love, but when living in a world that encourages one kind of beauty ideal and doesn’t encourage the idea that it is okay for bodies to have fat or to shift as we age…it can be hard to love it.

      Your definition of love is so poetic. Love it. I love the idea of being in a place where one can say “[body] you make sense to me”. As someone gains weight and changes as they age / go through new life stages it can be so typical in our culture to try to micromanage our size and get back to a body we had before. Instead being able to say, “oh hey body…i see what you’re doing here. You’re changing. Go for it. Do your thing. I’m at peace with you changing however you need to and I’m not gonna try to change you.” That’s an awesome perspective.

      I guess the love I was talking about here was a more external focused/superficial love and I really liked you bringing in a more comprehensive definition of what love is. Thanks, Silvia!

  14. I love and agree with these sentiments! I think, for me, working towards body acceptance is more feasible and something I want to be dedicated to. Sometimes this means looking at myself before I get in the shower, just to make peace with what is today. I know that might sound strange, but in absence of the scale, I want to work with any discomfort that can come up just being in my body. It feels tolerable at this point (and is *not* body checking). I’m not sure if I’d recommend it for others, but jus something I have been doing (on days where I’m feeling neutral)! I’ve liked learning that our bodies are going to change over time and to work towards accepting our bodies each day – and even practicing gratitude for what our bodies do for us. This might be similar to how you talked about just breathing with your hands on your belly in recovery.

    And Kylie, if you’re reading this, you don’t need to email me back since I can see the code and the expiration date here. Thank you so much! I’m really hoping to take the course.

  15. This totally hits home for me, Kylie! :) I’ve been thinking about this a TON lately. It’s so hard not to dwell on your body because, well, you live in it every single moment…of every single day. But to your point, as soon as we begin cultivating a vibrant life full of challenge, joy, passion, etc., we simply don’t have time to nitpick and prod at our bodies. I recently listened to a Food Psych podcast about all of this. I suppose the hope is that we can continue to work towards a form of body awareness that is neither neglectful nor all-consuming.

    Anyway, it’s so empowering to read about other women who are encouraging this type of body awareness. Your thoughts / rambles are always a breath of fresh air. You’re going to be such an amazing mama.

    Much love.

    • this sentence –> “I suppose the hope is that we can continue to work towards a form of body awareness that is neither neglectful nor all-consuming”

      YES.

      And thanks for the encouragement, Edie <3

  16. This is FASCINATING. I, honestly, never thought about the “loving your body” movements in that way. I can see both sides of it though. Having struggled with disordered eating and anorexia, I can say that it was in the moments in which I became so deeply present with my body (not just the outside physical aspects of it) but more so feeling my breath during yoga while resting my hands on my belly, that made me fall in love with my body. I got to fall in love not just with my body but more so with myself and the precious life I was given. It was those moments that started to shift what I wanted for my life and my body.
    Now, I don’t think that there will come a time where I look at my body and think “oh I just love where my fat is depositing right now” but I can choose to notice it just as a fact and choose to love myself and each part of me anyway. I find that telling myself what the body part that is bothering me does for me helps me find “love” and/or appreciation for it in that moment. So I guess what I’m trying to say is that some days seeing my body and telling myself that I’m beautiful and that I love my body works for me…and other days choosing not to focus on it because I have other things I’d like to have take up space in my head works too. It all comes down to what it is I need that day. I don’t think there’s a cookie cutter answer for me and I honestly really like that each day something different works for me because that shows I’m constantly changing.

    Thanks so much for always challenging the way I think. I love it.

  17. I definitely have always aimed to not have my body and how it looks at the forefront of my brain. Getting to a place where I value my body and what it does but not really focusing on loving it as such (if that makes sense)- but rather having important things always be the most important thing in my life (i.e. family, friends, faith etc) be where I draw my strength and identity from.

    If that makes sense at all haha!

  18. Love this post! I agree with what you’re saying- I think it’s important to appreciate all that your body does but sometimes the “love your body” message can feel forced. I also hate the image that I find this phrase to be paired with: googling “love your body” or “love the skin your’re in”, or searching it on Instagram yields a very fatphobic result. Most of the posts you’ll see are will be a transformation photo of a skinny woman becoming a more muscular woman, or a super lean woman gaining 10 lbs, but still being at a socially acceptable weight. I think too often the message is warped into “love your body only if you exercise 5-6 days a week and eat veggies at every meal” which is still too rigid to be considered intuitive.

  19. this post is everything ive been thinking about lately but haven’t been able to articulate. Thank you!

  20. Pingback: day in the life (aka that time I went to the cutest, new crepe restaurant) – Yeah…Immaeatthat

  21. I hadn’t ever thought of it like this, but I love this post! “Thinking of your body less”, as opposed to trying to force yourself to love your body, should be the goal! Your body is just a vessel – it has nothing to do with WHO you are! If we force ourselves to love our bodies, it’s easy to get attached to it looking a certain way and get upset when it inevitably changes. So much healthier to focus on other, actually-important things and just let your body be what it is.

  22. So great, thank you so much for writing! I have a hard time with the “love your body” concept too because I already thought about it too much when over exercising and restricting food intake so why would I obsess about it, even in a “good” way, now?

  23. Pingback: Good good links #197 – Let's get living

  24. I like “body appreciation.” Especially postpartum! I think more than pregnancy because you finally have the baby and it’s mind-blowing that YOU CREATED ANOTHER HUMAN. And then your body heals itself after the incredible feat of giving birth. It’s really quite amazing when you think about. I was surprised by how genuinely grateful I was for my body postpartum.

    Great post, thanks!

  25. Certainly it is useful to live a more values based and vibrant life outside of focusing on your body image, and for lots of folks working on body neutrality and acceptance is much more attainable than body love. But, I think it is important to work on loving our bodies in a genuine way- not forcing a fake love, but moving from a neutral/accepting place towards a strong and loving relationship with our body. Of course we think about our bodies all the time- does it need rest, food, water, cuddles, movement, etc? And listening to our bodies and responding to them builds a loving relationship. Being more embodied is an amazing resource and can help people shift away from objectifying their body as far as how it looks in a mirror, and learn to love it from the inside out. I find that when this happens, it is easier for people to then also love what they see, in a really full and true way, without reducing their body through the lens of societal standards or their own conditioning and prejudices.

  26. Pingback: work in progress? nope, you are a masterpiece. – Mai Pen Rai Yoga

  27. Pingback: 5 Thing to Do This Weekend - The Real Life RD|NYC Dietitian Nutritionist

  28. Pingback: A Little Somethin' Sunday #96 - Sinful Nutrition

  29. Pingback: Links I Love {November 2017 Edition} | KendraNicole.net

  30. I absolutely love this and agree so much. This reminds me of an episode from Girls (the tv show) when Lena Dunham’s character is criticized by her boyfriend for being a bit “overweight.” She responds by basically saying that she isn’t focused on it because she has more important things in life going on that she would rather focus on instead. I think this message also goes back to the idea that women are taught in our society to be preoccupied with our bodies. From a feministic perspective, if we’re constantly worried about the way we look then this takes away from other ways we can contribute in the world. Why should we also be taught to love our bodies? Why not just be taught that our body is our body and that’s it. Move on with life. Great post!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Top