A great activity in regard to building positive/neutral body image, is to make a list of things you like about yourself which have nothing to do with your body/appearance.
You can pull this list out when using the ‘AND therapy’ in a challenging body moment.
Here are some of my favourites:
I’m feeling uncomfortable in my body AND I’m a great listener, a thoughtful partner & a caring friend.
I’m having a challenging body day AND I’m also on a lifelong journey of choosing to respect my ‘here & now’ body.
I can feel discomfort AND acceptance at the same time.
It’s also important to attach feeling words to feelings. For example, fat is not a feeling.
So instead of “I’m feeling fat”, ask yourself, what lies beneath that? What’s the feeling you are feeling?
Maybe it’s a feeling of discomfort, feeling uncomfortable. So, the first sentence of the statement may become “I feel uncomfortable”, or “I am having a difficult body day”, or “I feel physically uneasy in my body today”. This is important. It allows you to acknowledge the physical sensations without playing into the hand of societal expectations.
I feel it important to mention regarding the above, that folks are reclaiming the word fat as a neutral, non-medical, descriptor of body size. The word fat has been a word that for decades, has been used in a derogatory way, a snarl or hiss directed at someone’s body, or at ones own body. Folks reclaiming the word share it as a neutral descriptor, a way to talk about their body that feels honest & direct. A reclaiming & reframing of a word that previously elicited so much shame. Folks share that it feels incredibly empowering. So, use it as you feel comfortable to do so, I am absolutely still learning in this domain. I use the word fat a lot more than I use to, particularly when discussing fat activist & body positive movements. I see people get startled or confused when they hear the word for the first time in a context that isn’t negative.
When it comes to language & bodies, it’s vital that all of us examine our privilege.
And to end this blog post off, in the wise words of Mary Jelkovsky “Your body is not an image. Bodies are an experience, and are a beautiful experience. We cannot keep letting our body image ruin our life experience.”