I’d like to start a revolution. I think, luckily, I’m not the first nor will I be the last who wishes to start this particular revolution. Which means I’m not starting it, I’m joining it. Let’s start again then.
I’d like to join a revolution. That’s better.
But I want more momentum to this particular revolution. Because despite what some people may think, it is important.
Body confidence. Being confident in your body, no matter what shape, size, colour, gender, in health or not, is a critical component to leading a happy life.
It is such a complex issue that I am not about to pretend I know everything about what happens in our minds when it comes to body confidence. But I do know what goes on in my mind. And I know how my friends have felt, and the things they say and share with me regarding their body confidence. I also know what has impacted and affected me as I have grown up in an image obsessed world.
I’ve been prompted to write this blog quite out of the blue. It is a topic I have been meaning to tackle for some while now, but have never found the right starting point, mainly due to its complexity and how hard it is to write about. But today I encountered some people (two to be precise, a man and a woman) on a social media platform, who both in different ways shocked me due to their complete inability to understand that focusing on someone’s weight is counter-productive and often not at all suitable, when paying a compliment.
So let’s start here. With weight-loss and body confidence.
It may seem counterintuitive, after all, don’t we all want to be slimmer to have body confidence? And isn’t telling someone they look good because they have lost weight a nice thing to do? Well no.
What I want is to feel happy with myself whatever size I am. I want to feel good about my body whether I am a size 18, 14 or 0. The fact is, I’ll never be a size 0. I might be a size 18 again. I currently am hovering between a size 14 and 16. I am happiest and feel healthiest as a size 14. But society and the media that feeds it, tells me I should be size 0, because that’s the size that beautiful successful people are. I should also have an airbrushed face that is perfectly symmetrical and I should smell of eau de pretentious bollocks. So when someone compliments me and assumes I look good because I have lost weight they are perpetuating this beauty myth.
Complimenting someone on their weight loss implies several things and assumes many more. It assumes the person wanted to lose weight and moreover implies they wanted to lose weight in order to look good. The sad fact is that this can be true. However, some people have lost weight due to ill-health, because they are not eating properly (due to mental health issues, money issues, stress, anxiety, etc, etc.), they may have an eating disorder (which is even more complex than simple body issues, but are closely connected and can be triggered by body issues), be depressed, perhaps they are trying to lose weight but are doing so through restricting their eating, calorie counting, skipping meals, and so on. So telling them they look good because they have lost weight is actually reinforcing behaviour that needs help and is counter-productive.
And then back to body confidence, telling someone they look good and have lost weight is reinforcing our socially accepted norms that lack of weight = good and weight = bad. So people will continue to try to lose weight in order to look good if we keep telling them they look good because they have lost weight.
Instead we should be aiming to feel healthy and happy, regardless of weight. (And the medical / nutrition ‘professionals’ among you get off your high horses about BMI etc, we all know that you can be fit and healthy and overweight, we also know you can be unfit and unhealthy and overweight, or unfit and unhealthy and the ‘right’ weight or underweight – I didn’t claim this revolution was a simple one!)
Perhaps one small step would be to simply compliment someone because they just look good. There need be no reference to weight or size. We could even start complimenting people on their style, their clothing, their choice of shoes, their smile. Maybe we can just tell someone they are beautiful. That’s what I do and when someone tells me I look good and I’ve lost weight, I say thanks, but no, I haven’t lost weight (unless I have and then I fall into the social trap of weight-loss boasting – look, I’m working on it!)
So, I am joining a revolution. Want to join me?
#bodyconfidence, #bodyhappy, #bodyconfidencerevolution, #loveyourbody