‘AND Therapy’ for Body Image

Body Image
October 29, 2021

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.

I can’t help but quote directly the wonderful Centre For Integrative Health below on their exceptional post regarding the above topic, you can check out more on their instagram by clicking here: “When we say “I feel ‘fat’” what we usually mean is “I feel insecure”, “I feel ashamed”, “I feel inadequate” or “I feel uncomfortable”. ⁠Not only is such a language indication of our internalised fatphobia (ie., fat is bad, shameful, less than, etc) but this shortcut in self-expression is horribly ineffectively in getting our needs met. Think about a time in which you might have bemoaned such a statement to someone (“ugh! I feel fat”), what did they say in response and how did it make you feel? It’s hardly any surprise if you felt dismissed, invalidated, misunderstood, or (worse yet) confirmed in your insecurities if the other person responded with something like “you’re not fat” or (worse yet) “why don’t you… [insert unhelpful weight suggestion]”. Next time you’re tempted to proclaim that you feel “fat”, we invite you to 1) resist the urge to perpetuate society’s fatphobia and 2) dig a little deeper and find a word that more accurately describes your emotional experience so that the people who love you have a better chance of understanding, validating, and connecting with you.”

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.”


Accredited Practising Dietitian + Certified Intuitive Eating Counsellor

Book an Appointment with Us


Accredited Practising Dietitian + Certified Intuitive Eating Counsellor

Book an Appointment with Us