We Need To Stop Body-Shaming Ourselves.

“You are imperfect, permanently and inevitably flawed. And you are beautiful.”
~ Amy Bloom

I self-shame my body. A lot. It’s a thing I need to work on. Hard!

It started when I was about 20 I guess, but it could have been sooner. That’s the time when I became more aware of my body, its shape, its size. And worse, that’s when I started to compare my curvy figure with other women’s — usually much thinner, less curvy — bodies.

I also made up a story in my head that people were judging my body. Which in turn made me judge theirs. The story was about what I thought they thought about me and my body.

Not good. I know. Because:

  • To compare is to despair. And despair is what I got. For sure.
  • It’s impossible to know what people think about you. Until you ask. And does it really matter? Because as long as you’re OK with yourself, you don’t need to pay attention to other’s opinions.

With the above in mind, here I was last Monday in a state of total meltdown. Tears. Panic. Distaste. Self-shaming my body.

You see I don’t need others to body-shame me. I’m perfectly capable of doing that all by myself.

So what caused the melt-down?

Me looking at the results of a photo shoot I had a few weeks ago for my website.

The photo shoot itself was a blast. We started at 6 am to get make-up done. We were at the beach early to catch the beautiful morning light. It was such fun. We even had an audience. I have the greatest make-up and photographer friends. We all get like a house on fire, which made the shoot even greater and more fun.

Fast forward to last week Monday late night with me looking at my pics. And having a total meltdown.

I sobbed, I cried, I complained. The story I made in my head went as follows: “Oh my god, how can you have pics taken when you’re this fat? Who do you think you are? Sophia Loren? Really? Not so! Look at all those wrinkles, that double chin. And btw, those cheeks make you look like a hamster filling up for winter.”

Can you see that when I go in critic mode, I do it full-on? Well, yes. Unfortunately.

My husband tried to soothe me. My sons tried. Even their girlfriends — wispy thin — chimed in. But I preferred to stick with my stupid story. Result: I hardly slept. Yet I did have a ”plan d’action” for the next day.

The next morning, after also upsetting my photographer — you see I like to go overboard like a madwoman — I went back to my computer screen. During part of the night, I had done some self-coaching. I made a list of my critics — me! — and of my supporters — plenty. So my plan was to have a look with a fresh eye. Go over all 600 so pictures and choose the best ones. That I could live with. Yes, live with, cuz I wasn’t ready for full acceptance yet.

Keep in mind that none of these 600 photos was edited, touched up or photoshopped. Because which photographer does that with all 600 photos anyway. Starting to triage with a fresh eye and my self-work done, I actually began to like what I saw. Well, to be honest, my Inner Critic did come in action, but soon my Inner Comforter and Supporter took over.

Soon after I was actually thrilled with the pictures. I ended up with over 400 in my “best” folder. A bit — lot — more than I set out find.

So now, a week down the line, I ask myself: Why did you self-shame your body? Your face? You? Why were you such a harsh critic to yourself? And you know what! I’ve decided — and believe me this will still take a whole lot of self-work — to stop my body-self-shaming. I decided it’s high time to become my own biggest fan. I decided it’s time to throw out my old story and my comparing-despairing spiral. I also decided to stop thinking for other people. Because you know what, there’s no way in hell I can know what other people think of me unless they tell me or I ask them. Plus I have no right to think I know what they think. that is simply not true.

To summarise, what I learned — yet again — and want you to know is:

  1. Stop to compare. It will only lead to despair. And this is not only about the body stuff.
  2. Stop thinking that you know what others think about you. Because you don’t. And if you want to know, ask.
  3. Stop the bad story from your past. Because the past is what it is. It’s gone and there’s no way to bring it back. Or to change it. What you can do is change the story and rewrite it. So you become your own hero. And leave the victim behind.
  4. Stop self-shaming your body. Instead, thank it for doing such a great job.
  5. And this may sound cliché — cuz it is! True beauty comes from within. If you love yourself and accept yourself, it will shine through. YOU will shine!

I’ll throw in some pics from the shoot. Not because I’m such a self-absorbed narcissist, but just to share with you. And whatever you think, that’s your right to think.

Last but not least: if you’re struggling with accepting yourself, who you are, what you do, what you look like — whatever keeps you from loving yourself and accepting yourself — give me shout. We can talk about it.

Or if you’re not ready to talk about it, check out this free series, Dare to Care for Yourself, which will give you 21 days worth of small tips and tools to pay that extra bit of attention to yourself. because you are important! And don’t let anyone tell you the opposite.

And if you’re in the Algarve near the end of June, I have my event, Yoga For The Brain, on. In this group setting I share tools and tips, stories and experiences. I teach people how to deal with stress, discomfort, negativity and emotions. It’s always fun. Magic happens. Women share their vulnerable stories. Women connect on a deeper level.

So if by any chance you’re around, come and check us out. It’s on Thursday, June 29th at 11am on Garrão Beach/Praia de Garrão. You can find me on the beach in front of restaurants António Tá Certo and Paradise Beach/Eduardo’s.

Hope to see you there!

“There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me, that is the true essence of beauty.”
~Steve Maraboli

This post can be found on my website : https://christelvangelder.com/need-stop-body-shaming/