Body hate hurts, but sometimes we trick ourselves into allowing negative body thoughts to run rampant in our minds. Without really thinking about it, we tell ourselves it’s “okay” to hate certain body parts, to call ourselves names, to berate ourselves for our flaws. Why? Because body hate hides in the murkiness of our thoughts. It’s not out in the open, out in the light of day where the truth about body hate is more obvious. So today, let’s get that body hate out in the open.
A Body Hate Story
You’re out to have lunch with your best friend–let’s call her Lauren. You’ve known Lauren for several years, and you know you can go to her for the little silly everyday stuff, and the big gut-wrenching stuff, too.
You both sit down at a little table in the corner of a cafe. You notice Lauren’s new handbag as she sets it down on the floor next to her feet.
“Oh, wow! I love those colors,” you exclaim. “That turquoise pattern sure brings out your eyes.”
She smiles and says, “Thanks! I got it on sale, so lunch is on me.”
You smile back, and your eyes wander down to Lauren’s feet. “Ugh,” you say. “Your feet are disgusting.”
The smile vanishes from Lauren’s face. She pulls her feet back and tries to tuck them under the chair so you can’t see them.
You make a face. “Do you really think that pedicure can hide how crooked your toes are? If I were you, I wouldn’t even wear sandals out in public.”
Lauren looks like she’s about to cry (or slap you, you’re not quite sure). So you shake your head and smile. “Don’t worry! Your feet aren’t the real you. They’re just part of your body. I think you’re a wonderful person. Remember that surprise party you planned for me last month? How awesome was that?!”
Lauren gives you a guarded smile. You conversation turns to work, and apparently Lauren is up for a long-awaited promotion. You’re genuinely excited for her–you know she deserves it.
“We’ll have to go out to celebrate!” you say.
She nods. “I just need to get a new pair of heels–my favorite ones are finally getting worn out.”
“Well, just don’t get anything with peep toes. They make your toes look absolutely garish! And don’t get anything in bright colors–they’ll make your feet look monstrous. With your feet, better to stick with neutrals that don’t attract attention.”
Back to Reality…
Would you ever in your wildest dreams talk like this to your friend? Would you ever talk like this to anyone?
Well, you do talk like this. Every day.
Think about it for a minute. How often do you experience something like this:
- You’re out shopping, and you see your reflection in a shop window. You think, “I look like a fat whale!”
- You’re getting dressed to go to the park on a summer day. You want to wear shorts to stay comfortable in the heat, but you look down at your legs and think, “My cellulite is disgusting. I’m never wearing shorts outside this house!”
If we made comments like these to a friend, we would see clearly the hurt they cause. But because these hateful words stay inside our heads, we think they’re somehow more normal or acceptable.
Most of us say things like this to ourselves every day. Not only that, but most of us make decisions based on these thoughts as well. We sweep our hair forward to cover the breakout on our forehead, we wear the cardigan to mask the size of our stomach, we make excuses to not go on a beach vacation because we’re horrified by the way we look in a bathing suit…
And while it’s good to look at the positives in yourself, most of us know that hateful words can’t be covered up by saying “Oh, but you’re such a nice person” or “You’re so good at your work” or any other platitude. Hateful words hurt, period.
You don’t have to like all your flaws, but it’s important to distinguish the difference between disliking a flaw, and slamming yourself with hateful comments because of it.
So next time you catch yourself thinking negative body thoughts, ask yourself, “Is this okay to say to myself? Would I say it to a friend?” It might make you realize just how unreasonable those thoughts really are!
You also might be interested in reading my book Love Your Body: The Imperfect Girl’s Guide to Positive Body Image. I used to be plagued with hateful body thoughts, but now I have a much more positive perspective about my body. I wrote this eBook because I wanted to share what has made all the difference for me. Learn more about my book Love Your Body here…