I came upon a conversation where some women were talking about how much they had eaten during the weekend and how badly they needed to work it off.  They were discussing various parts of their body that they hated, or needed to tone more.  Before intuitive eating, I would have relished the chance to jump into that conversation, to start bashing my body or talking about the latest health information or diet I had read about.  I would have immediately and subconsciously started comparing my body to theirs (where mine always comes out inferior), hoping they would tell me that, “No, you are so thin.” Or “What, I wish I had arms like yours.  Mine shake every time I wave.” Or “Don’t worry about your stomach, your legs are to die for.”

I used to join in these body-bashing conversations hoping that the others in the conversation would do their duty by telling me my body wasn’t as bad as I thought it was.  I would leave the conversation with a small boost in my self-esteem—one that probably lasted about 10 minutes, because I inevitably began comparing all my “flaws” to their strengths.   It has been like a drug to me in my life.  I got a small high off of hearing other women discount the flaws I saw in my body and envy other parts of my body.

Anyway, I heard this body bashing conversation going on, and I started to hyperventilate.  I wanted so badly to jump in and get that high that comes with the 10 minutes of improved self-esteem, but this time I was able to see a small glimpse of how empty that it would be.  For a moment, I felt relieved that I didn’t have to do that anymore.  And then I immediately started comparing my body to their bodies anyway.  But, I realized I was doing it, so I took some deep breaths, cried a little, and got out.  I simply walked away from the conversation and didn’t look back.

How many of you participate, initiate, or hear conversations like this, especially among women?  How do they make you feel?  What is their purpose?  What can be done to stop this pervasive culture?  Your thoughts would be appreciated!

6 thoughts on “BODY BASHING

  1. I think we all do that for the most part. I guess I’ve never really thought about how it makes me feel in the moment, but picturing myself in a conversation like that (which is easy to do because it happens so frequently) I realize that it makes me feel very vulnerable, like I”m hoping someone doesn’t say how much they hate their legs because I know mine are worse, or how they hate being ‘fat’ because I know I am ‘fatter.’ I start getting anxious for the conversation to be over so I don’t have to focus on my flaws. Never realized how much I dislike those kinds of conversations. I’m not sure what their purpose is, except that maybe whoever initiates it is looking for validation that they’re not so bad from those they’re talking to?? Why we chime in??? To either try to make another female feel better about their body? To take the focus off of our own? Or simply because it is something we all can relate to so its common ground. Glad you didn’t chime in…I ordered Intuitive Eating on CD so I can listen in my car and hopefully have a little better of a relationship with food myself. Thanks for sharing this blog…I know it’s probably not the easiest thing for you.

    • Hey Stacey! Thank you SO much for your comments! I appreciate that you take the time to read and participate in my blog. Isn’t it crazy how often these conversations happen?! I totally agree with you that a large part of it is because it is common ground, almost expected in our culture for women to demean, or devalue their bodies. I mean, can you imagine actually being in a conversation with other women and complimenting our own body?! It just doesn’t happen very often, if ever. And I really dislike these conversations now too, but I didn’t know quite how they affected me until Intuitive Eating. I hope you enjoy Intiitive Eating as much as I do… Just one word of advice-keep a open mind and keep reading even if you hear something you don’t agree with or can believe at first! Blessings!

  2. Throughout my life I have often run into the mentality that people believe they can build themselves up by making others look small. I have never really understood why people think that works or why it is okay to do, but it underlines bullying everywhere. I think these Body Bashing conversations can end up being passive aggressive bullying, either to ourselves or others. That being said, though I don’t really participate in the bullying mentality, I have still participated in way too many of these kinds of conversations. I have never really had much confidence in my body, even when I used unhealthy measures to get too skinny. I think I have ended up participating not so much to put myself above others, but to hear someone say I am not the fat cow I think I am. At the same time I get frustrated with people putting their bodies down all the time (yep, I am a total hypocrite) so I participate in these conversations to say those comments to other people that you talked about giving you that high. I can definitely see and agree that in the grand scheme of things, regardless of the slight positive some people feel, these conversations are always destructive and end up hurting more than helping, especially for those no one ends up saying nice things about. And even though it is nice to get validation from others, I think a positive body image comes from within verses without, so I am not sure these conversations even help prompt a positive body image in the long run. : / I guess the best way to stop it is to take the emphasis off having the perfect body and put it back on having a healthy body, but that is WAY easier said than done. Also, something I started doing in college was to go out of my way to make my compliments to others be about non-physical things. Whenever I felt an urge to compliment someone I had to do it, but make it about something non-physical. It really forced me to think and observe more about people than I had before. When I remember to do this it takes the emphasis off appearance and puts it onto more lasting (and important) things like personality, character, and actions.

    • Thanks, Eleesa for your comments! I agree, these conversations are always destructive, and I am working on not participating in them. And I REALLY like your ideas about complementing non-physical characteristics!

  3. you know, i hear these all the time, and often it’s in family gatherings. i hate them, i always have. they just leave me feeling empty and sad, for myself and all those involved (and NO its not just women!! men can be even harder on themselves than women!!) but there is a genuine cycle perpetuated from mother to daughter (or really any parent to child), and in my family i decided a few years ago to stop it. the cycle of “oh, i’m so fat and ugly! i wish i was thin and beautiful!” exclaimed by the mother to the daughter. this does 2 things: draws the daughter’s attention to her mother’s beautiful figure, coloring over it with negatives (because parents teach their children values, and so this is the same idea), and also equating certain body types with beauty/non-beauty. there are SO MANY different body types, and they are ALL beautiful – i can say that because i know the Lord created every single one of them!! so i want to stop that. it means not talking about bodies in a good/bad comparison way, and instead talking about health and the person as a whole. it’s fine to want to be healthy, heck we should want that! but make it all POSITIVES and leave out the comparisons!

    it’s such a hard thing, but if we just try to stop the negativity, i think it’ll help.

    • Thank you for stopping by my blog Cassia and raising your voice in the defense of the beauty of all body types! Blessings!

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