After joining us on the Great Zeenya Roadtrip - Health and Wellness Coach, Sarah Menlove witnessed first hand a few things. Women in general are cued to say negative things about their bodies. She even stopped the room at one point as everyone was busy pointing out their ‘flaws’ to get the ladies speaking in a more positive way about themselves. It became clear that we do this inherently, not really thinking about the why or how it makes us feel. So to delve a little deeper into this and ways we can break this cycle, Sarah has written a guest blog for us. We know it’s not easy shifting to wearing colour, but as a company we want to support women to be happy just as they are. To be celebrated for who they are and not what they look like. So jump into Sarah’s wise words below and share this with the incredible women in your life.
What do you tell yourself when you look in the mirror? Words of kindness or words of criticism? Is this something you would say to a friend? Would you say it to your daughter, niece or granddaughter?
Ok now you’re with me on the realness of what I’m about to talk about. Let’s get honest. We can be really bloody harsh to ourselves, especially when it comes to looking in the mirror! Whether it’s trying on a pair of Zeenyas, putting on shorts for the first time in a while or just getting dressed for your day to day life.
Are you saying things to yourself along the lines of
“omg I can’t wear this it makes my (insert body part) look huuuge” or
“it’s far too short, no-one needs to see these legs” or
“I just need to lose a few more kgs then I’ll be able to wear it”?
Chances are you’ve then spent the next few minutes (or longer), planning ways to create change to your body. It might be exercise, ie. a few more squats or an extra run, or maybe it’s sticking to a particular diet.
If you’ve done this (and I’m telling you, if you have, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!) I want you to take a minute to reflect on how this interaction leaves you FEELING.
Do you walk away from the time you spent in front of the mirror feeling empowered and like you can go out and conquer the world? Or do you feel a little bit less, maybe even downright emotional and embarrassed?
If it’s the later, again, you are not alone!
I’m here to tell you that you can change this experience, that your relationship with the mirror can become one of empowerment, or at least neutrality, rather than self-punishment.
In order to begin to change your experience, it’s important to understand WHY you may be feeling the way you do about your body. I want you to know that it is not your fault if you find yourself struggling with these things.
Why do we berate our bodies in this way? Two words DIET CULTURE… Oh and another two words SOCIETAL CONDITIONING.
In brief, these are the messages and beliefs that we receive throughout life that tell us that certain bodies are more valuable than others. Diet culture teaches us to value size, weight and physical characteristics of the body over true health and wellbeing (Christy Harrison, author of Anti Diet and host of podcast Food Psych). This may leave you judging the way you look or the size of your body even though you are fit, healthy and do amazing things with your body, such as complete running events, yoga, running around with your kids, adventure racing, or giving birth!
When you get into it it’s a really harmful system of oppression that has women continue to focus more on their size and appearance, rather than their gifts and unique qualities. I have a lot to say on this topic so for more on overcoming diet culture join my private Facebook community or give me a follow on the gram. Links at the bottom of the blog.
Let’s get in to how you can begin to change this relationship with the mirror:
Step one: Thought awareness. Become aware of what you are thinking or how you are talking about your body. This might be confronting and that is ok, this is a process of noticing without judgement what you are currently telling yourself. The important part of this is, without judgement. If you go shopping with friends, notice what you say to them when you look in the mirror, get them to reflect it back to you and notice how it makes you feel.
Step Two: Uncover the story. Become curious (again without judgement), where did you learn this? Was it something you learned as a child, something your Mum used to say to herself or something someone said to you at one time? Chances are this is a learned behaviour, based on someone else’s story which means you CAN unlearn it, YAY! I’d recommend grabbing a pen and paper and spending time to write this out as a way of giving these ideas the time they need.
Step Three: Thought Redirection. When you notice yourself start to go into these thought patterns, hit pause as soon as you can, breathe and replace it with something more empowering.
Pick one of the following:
State 3 things you are grateful for your body for DOING.
Practice a mantra such as “I am worthy”, “I am a badass”, “I am treating my body with care and respect”, “my body is a gift” (find something that resonates with you).
Bring to mind the qualities that you like about yourself that have nothing to do with your body e.g. loyal, motivated, artistic, loving, thoughtful, a good listener, compassionate. I encourage you to create your own list, so you have some go to’s.
Step Four: Empowered action. As much as you can, practice ignoring that voice that tells you you “can’t wear something” and choose what you are wanting to wear. Focus on what feels good rather than what you perceive makes you “look good”. Sometimes this will be easier than others and you might want to practice around home first.
Step Five (a step that goes along with all of the above steps): SELF COMPASSION. Have a huge amount of compassion for yourself as you go through this process, treat yourself with the care and kindness that you would a friend. Remember whatever emotions you feel, they are valid!
My closing thoughts on a huge topic that requires a lot more unpacking that I can do justice in this one post; Positive affirmations and gratitude can be a really helpful during this process AND it’s really important that you allow yourself to explore and uncover what’s going on at a deeper level. This does require work that takes time but the freedom on the other side is so worth it!
This work requires clearing out old beliefs, getting to the bottom of where this started for you, doing the inner healing and mindset work that will completely transform your relationship with your body and yourself.
You are so worthy and deserving of wearing the clothes you desire to wear and feeling amazing in the body that you are in today. We owe it to ourselves and the next generation to make peace with our bodies to end centuries of self-depreciation and body shame.
You have this one body and this one life, you deserve to fully LIVE IT!
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