Shame is felt; guilt is given. That resonated with me, at a time in my life when I was filled with the feeling of shame towards myself.
Along with many other things, I was ashamed of my body, for not exercising enough, and then using too much, which caused myself an injury. It did not make sense to be jumping back and forth, but in the head of a confused 22-year-old, the shame was real, and it felt heavy.
After my last blog and the reaction, I got from you lovely people; I felt it was necessary to dig deeper into shame in general and how it applies to body shame. What I didn’t expect to learn when researching body shame was that there are many other types of shame. Fat shame, skinny shame, hair removal shame, age shame, slut-shame, honestly there are too many types to name.
To begin with, let’s define body shame?
By definition, it is criticising your appearance or someone else. Judging yourself and others can become a habit. One I intend to break free of because I have learned from years of judging and shaming myself that it never results in anything positive and stifles any long-term changes I have tried to implement.
Have you ever tried on clothes you haven’t worn in a while and realised they no longer fit;
“but I used to wear this all the time?”
Comparison, Ah the nasty thief of joy. But that was then, and this is now, and many factors have changed since then.
Now depending on the time passed since those clothes fit you and the life events that have happened in between, what is the point in getting caught up in it? Other then recognising if you have slipped into an unhealthy pattern and how you will begin to set healthy habits, there is little you can do.
This is the moment where you get to decide if you are going to fall back into your body-shaming habits. Or maybe find something else to wear, reflect and show your body compassion. This will allow you to move on in whatever direction is appropriate for your mind and body.
With time our bodies need to evolve
I also want to acknowledge that trying on clothes from your teens is a ridiculous size comparison even if you are 19 years old now trying on your 18-year-old clothes. Until you are the mid to late twenties, there is still so much growth and transformation that your body NEEDS to go through. It is impossible to compare your past body with your present body.
Look at it this way, if I’m 25 today a year ago I was 24. That is one extra year on this planet—an additional year of food consumption. If you fluctuate like me, that’s one more year of medication, exercising, illness, life’s challenges, whatever it may be. As a person, I am not the same as I was a year ago, so why would I expect my body to be?
Now I am not saying it is healthy to gain weight every year. The point I am making is with time the body evolves. Time to develop and change, and what we expect from our bodies can vary. There is a host of changes happening, and sometimes weight loss or gain is necessary from a health perspective. These changes can have negative psychological impacts, and this is where body-shaming manifests.
I suggest we break this insane harmful habit of shaming ourselves and others. Let us see what difference this can make because one thing is for sure; the old way is not working.