The health and fitness industry profits off the insecurities of women. Conveniently, many people and companies eagerly offer to sell us the solution. “You hate that fat on your body? Take this pill!”; “Unsightly cellulite on your thighs? Try this cream and simple procedure!”; “Hate seeing yourself in the mirror, in a swimsuit because of unsightly flaws? Try this rapid fat loss diet!”
Some people say the solution is simple: “Just love your body,” they say. “If women loved their bodies, then no one could profit off the insecurities perpetuated by this billion-dollar industry.”
But that’s not practical either. Actually, it’s laughable.
While it’s a nice suggestion, and perhaps a goal worth inching toward, to encourage women to love their bodies, it’s not practical for everyone. For the woman who has hated parts of her body her entire life, telling her to, “Hey, just love your body!” is rather stupid. If it were that easy, she certainly would have done it by now.
A better, more realistic, goal should be neutrality. You don’t have to love every part of your body, but you shouldn’t actively hate parts either. Work on viewing them neutrally: You don’t hate them, you don’t love them, but they’re there.
How can you put this into practice? One way to start is by ceasing to verbalize negative comments. For the woman who reflexively states, “I hate my thighs” every time she slides on a pair of jeans, her goal can be to not say anything; to not make any comments, good or bad. This may seem like a pointless exercise, but it will bring to light how often someone verbalizes negative criticism about their body, and refusing to put it into words can, with practice, ease the transition from disliking a body part to seeing it with neutrality.
Another favorite tip: Focus on what that body part you don’t love can do instead of how it looks.
The woman who doesn’t love her thighs can focus on activities like squatting, biking, hiking … whatever. The goal is to appreciate her thighs’ abilities. To, at the very least, be grateful for what they can do if she doesn’t love how they look. I’ve seen the powerful effects this can have, so it’s worth trying for yourself. “I didn’t love my legs until I realized I’m a strong squatter!” I’ve heard women exclaim and the exercise comes full circle: They do go from hating a body part, to seeing it with neutrality, to loving it. And that is awesome.
If you have a body part or two you don’t love, how can you progress to seeing them with neutrality? Is there a way to appreciate what that part can do to take the focus off how it looks?
And, hey, if you want help discovering the awesome things your body can do, you should join us in the Lift Like a Girl Coaching Group. This is an incredible group of strong, supportive women. The programming revolves around three weekly strength training workouts, and the goal is to steadily improve your performance week to week. I’m there every step of the way and you can post videos if you want help or feedback on exercise performance too. Click here for details.