Let’s reclaim our bodies

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I want you all to read the amazing Gala Darling’s post on Radical Self-Hate and why it should be stopped.

It’s about time women (and men!) claimed their bodies back and stopped flagellating themselves for eating a chocolate, or for not fitting into a pair of size zero jeans, or for not being “pretty enough”.

The issue of body image and self-esteem is one I am very passionate about, and about which I could argue for hours on end.

I have very little respect for people who obsess over the way they look. Especially for thin women who talk about nothing all day but how faaaat they are. Especially when they do it with a person who is heavier than them. How awful. I also have very little respect for people who eat a burger/pizza/whatever and apologise for it. If you don’t want to eat a pizza, just don’t eat it and shut up about it. Let everybody else enjoy it. Also, if you really DO want to eat a pizza, just bloody well eat it without making anybody feel like they are responsible for you breaking your diet.

I say this not because I am not aware that a lot of people are unhappy with the way they look, but because it makes everybody else feel uncomfortable. If you have to feel guilty about eating ice cream, don’t bring everybody else down with you. As Gala says in her post, disordered eating is contagious. And also very dangerous. You may think it is cool to brag about how you skipped lunch, but it isn’t. It’s sad, and one step away from a life-threatening eating disorder. And if you really knew what living with anorexia or bulimia was like, you would think twice before boasting about how hungry you are.

I’m not advocating unhealthy eating either. People who brag that all they eat is junk food don’t get much respect from me either. You cannot never eat fruit or vegetables and still be healthy.

One of the best things I ever did for myself was join an online community for women of every size to celebrate themselves. There was no mention of food or dress sizes or how much you weigh or how wide your waist was. Only a celebration of people as persons who are beautiful and accomplished in their own way, no matter how much they weighed. We never promoted binge eating or living a completely sedentary life; quite the opposite, we promoting loving yourself enough that you allowed yourself to run and dance and also sit and watch TV or talk to loved ones. And eat good food – a healthy diet, including the occasional chocolate or burger because, well, why not? Everything in moderation, and all that.

One of the first and best ways to help reclaim your body as your own is to get rid of negative influence. If you’re one of those who feels bad after looking at fashion magazines, then stop looking at fashion magazines for a while. If you know somebody who only talks about calories and tiny thighs, maybe you should stop hanging out with them for a bit.

Surround yourself instead with people who love you no matter what you look like. Follow campaigns by companies like Dove. Their campaign for ‘real beauty’ may be a clever marketing strategy, but it’s also a good wake up call to companies who focus on convincing people they NEED their products to feel good.

It’s like Gala says:

Until we can all learn to accept & EMBRACE our bodies as the FLAWED MIRACLES that they are, this nonsense will continue.

The bottom line: if you don’t let people know that their behaviour won’t be tolerated, nothing will change. Set an example! It’s easy to say you’ll do these things, but when you step away from your computer, will you make those changes in the real world?

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