What if we stopped admiring weight loss?
With the warmer weather approaching, and now with a few hot days under our belt, I’ve noticed a few children at the schools I’ve worked at, as well as older students on their way home from school, wearing jumpers and jackets in the heat of the afternoon.
My heart breaks for these students, the ones so uncomfortable in their own skin, so unhappy with their body’s that they’d prefer to swelter under a heavy jacket, then let their bodies be seen.
To some extent I was one of those kids when I was growing up, except for me, it was wearing an over sized t-shirt over the top of my bathers. I felt incredibly self-conscious from an early age. My friends were mostly slim, small boned, thin legged, perfectly petite and perfectly perfect in my eyes. I however, saw my myself as chunky, heavy, thick legged, all the things that my friends weren’t. I still remember trying to hide my body in bathers, my towel close to the edge of the pool, me, completely oblivious to the fact that my large, oversized t-shirt, accentuated my body as it clung to my wet skin. I remember it like it was yesterday.
When I see young people covering their bodies, embarrassed and ashamed at their physical size, my heart breaks. It’s such a sad world we live in. These young people don’t realise that their bodies are exactly as they’re meant to be. They don’t realise that Bethany with the perfect body is only that way because of her genetics, they don’t realise that she hasn’t done anything special to look that way, besides being born to the parents she was born to. We put small bodies on a pedestal, it’s societal and it’s so very wrong and so very sad. Slender children aren’t any better than those in larger bodies, but when you observe kids, there is an undeniable hierarchy from very early on.
Where are kids learning that bigger bodies are bad bodies?
Is it from listening to their mothers talk about needing to go on a diet?
Is it from hearing their mothers look in the mirror and say ‘Ugh, I feel so fat and disgusting’?
Is it from the portrayal in tv shows of the larger character as the butt of the joke?
Is it from print media glorifying a particular body type, especially in women?
Is it really any wonder why people in their genetically given bodies feel shame from others?
Is it really any wonder that our kids have picked up on the fat bias that is so prevalent in almost every aspect of life?
Recently I’ve worked in a few different schools, different students, different teachers, different suburbs, but exactly the same diet talk in the staff room. If I’m hearing it in schools, in a female dominated industry, then you’re probably hearing it in your work place too.
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of it.
I’m tired of weight loss being praised like it’s the greatest thing someone has achieved, I’m tired of listening to the latest fad that’ll help you lose that last 5kgs.
Do you know what that 5kgs is?
It’s your cheese and biscuits with your friends, it’s your wine at the end of a long week, it’s your Friday night take away with your family, it’s all those moments that bring you joy.
If I could turn back time, if I could talk to those kids I see covering their bodies up, I’d tell them their bodies are their parents, their grandparents and their great-grandparents before them. I’d remind them that we were never meant to look the same but that somewhere along the way, society got it wrong. I’d remind them their bodies aren’t wrong. Our bodies are our history. We all have different genetics, I have the body of my mother and her mother before her, we all do. The women in my family carry weight in their lower bodies and I’m proud of the body I’ve been gifted. For over 20 years I fought my body; I punished it; I tried to change it, and when I did, it didn’t bring me joy. I looked good, but what had I lost in the process? I’d lost who I was.
I am no longer just a body. I am done being an aesthetic. My body is one part of me, it’s the paintbrush that allows me to experience a colourful life. My life is my canvas, it is my heart and my soul, it is my actions and my words, it is the way I make people feel, it is the joy I give and the pleasure I receive from accepting others just as they are.
I understand so many things at 44 that I didn’t understand before.
It’s tiring trying to change your body. It’s tiring thinking about food and calories. It’s exhausting dealing with feelings that you’re less than perfect, but what if we stopped comparing ourselves to one another? What if instead of casting judgements, we smiled at other women and built each other up? What if we started praising real things like life success, ambition, determination, drive, or surviving? What if we stopped admiring weight loss, and instead aspired to be great women with full, rich lives?
Maybe then our children would grow up realising they were more than a body. Maybe then our children would see their bodies were gifts, but it starts with us.
Do you believe you’re more than a body?
Are you ready to be more instead of less?
‘Apologise to your body, maybe that’s where the healing begins’
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