In my fifteen plus years of blogging, I’ve never received so much feedback as I have from my post, “Fat, Old, Sore and Tired”. That doesn’t please me, to be honest. It makes me sad. It shouldn’t be this way that so many women carry so much shame associated with their bodies. I know that I’m not revolutionary in talking about this. But I think I’m especially moved because of the vulnerability and honesty that has been shared with me in private messages. I never imagined that by revealing some of my deepest secrets, it would cause a ripple effect for so many to reveal their own. What a beautiful thing.
Now what do we do about it? How can I do something to erase all the years of negative self-talk, judgment, paranoia and sizeism (now THAT is a topic for a whole post unto itself). How can I work on improving all of those things for myself and my new Accountability Army? (There are a couple of dozen of us who are on the accountability journey with me- let me know if you’d like to be a part of it). How do I kickstart my own physical wellness and ensure that I succeed in breaking the cycle that I’ve been in for most of my life?
It starts by making it part of my Willowjak experience. Do you remember the movie Julie & Julia with Meryl Streep and Amy Adams? It’s the true stories of both the famous chef, Julia Child and blogger, Julie Powell. We watch the start of Julia’s cooking career and a challenge taken on by a blogger named Julie Powell, who sets out to cook all the recipes in Child’s first cookbook. Beyond the remarkable performances by the actresses and the great stories, I loved the element of blogging about the whole challenge and how it changed Julie Powell’s life. She took people on the ride with her and it gave her the added incentive to stick to her commitment, because she knew she had people depending on her. There’s my parallel.
I’ve brought you in on my dilemma and because I have such a losing record in succeeding at sticking the landing, I think this time might be different because I’ve got people relying on me and cheering me on. And let’s be honest – it wouldn’t be real life if you didn’t have haters and I’m sure I’ve got those too, those who want me to fail. Heck – being my own worst enemy, there’s a little hater in me that obviously wants me to fail too, or else I wouldn’t be here.
So I’m shaking things up for myself and I’m going to blog about the journey and I also invite you to the bigger conversation. The conversation around body-shame. It’s not the same for everyone and I know it’s not restricted to those who are overweight, nor to gender.
What interests me at the moment, is how much early ‘trauma’ or negative experiences have an impact on our later issues with how we feel about our bodies. I’m also really thinking about body shame being generational. If the seeds are planted at a young age, before we even have the awareness about our bodies, does it come from our parents who had their own negative experiences or mindsets? And if you are someone who has never even wasted a second thought on what others thought about your body, or have only ever felt love for it, has it always been that way? Or did you overcome issues to become body positive? I hope you’ll comment and help me to figure this out.
Fellow Willowjak writer, Amy shared her thoughts after my first post:
I was one of the many people who resonated with Stacey’s post from a few days ago. The universality of the body shame experience is sad and powerful and maddening and unifying all at the same time. As women, we are raised to hate our bodies. It does not matter what you look like because you will never look like the manufactured and airbrushed models on TV. Your humanity makes you imperfect, fat, ugly and real. I was so fortunate to grow up in a home with seemingly little body shame or body dysmorphia passed down maternally, yet that did not mean I was safe from it. Dance class, Disney channel and public school provided plenty of opportunities for me to learn that I was not a flawless creature and taught me to desire an unrealistic standard for beauty above all else.
In Stacey’s blog, I loved the line, “Those moments are pieces of the puzzle, I now realize… They all add together now as I try to figure out why I am me.” As a woman, I face minor trauma daily as I navigate a sexist, misogynistic and patronizing world. A comment from a boy in grade 7 gym class, the judgments from family members or coworkers that belittle your vast being down to a weight loss project, the harassing whistles and catcalls in bars and parking lots all add up to significant trauma. These experiences foster a natural response of fear, shame and a feeling of worthlessness as we are taught to believe our body is our value. And frankly, fuck that.
So as painful as this all is, we are here, and we are talking about it. Thank you, Stacey, for opening this conversation at Willowjak. As I have worked through my body love journey, I have learned the more we talk about this trauma, the more we realize we all have a very similar experience with body shame. When these stories are shared, we can find strength in our community, validate our feelings and remove the power from the shame. May we support each other and ourselves in a journey of self-love, self-acceptance and unlearned fatphobia. To wellness, we journey side by side.
I don’t have any answers nor do I have any recipes for how to get to a place of loving this body. I am pretty sure that I won’t get there simply by losing the weight. Being open about it, picking apart my history and choosing to surround myself with positive influences are the first steps in my effort. I found a 2017 article in Psychology Today called “How to Overcome Body Shame” that has outlined some clear tips on some things we can try:
- Choose your messages on social media platforms.
- Believe you can love your body as it is.
- Come out from hiding.
- Consider that you’ve been wrong.
- Get to know your inner-bully.
- Create an inner-supporter.
- Practice thanking your body.
Let’s see where this thing takes us.
I’m trying my best to pay it forward by dealing hope and sharing stories & tips on caregiving and how to survive hard things. I blog a lot about single parenting my adult twin sons who both have autism, and the challenges we face in surviving the everyday challenges and planning for a future full of unknowns.