Do you feel like it’s possible to truly respect your larger body? Or do you constantly feel like the only way to work on your body image is to lose weight?
I wanted to write this blog to bring attention to the details, the little ways women in larger bodies can work on respecting their bodies every day.
It breaks my heart when I hear, “if only I could lose weight, then I would love my body.” We know that body respect issues don’t actually go away when you lose weight.
Instead, you are left simply battling with your body image issues in a smaller body. A smaller body that has over a 90% chance of regaining all the weight you lost, and likely more.
This often leaves women feeling confused and frustrated on multiple fronts. Confused that their body image problems were not magically solved with weight loss and frustrated when the weight begins to creep back on.
They tend to blame themselves, when we really should be blaming diet culture.
Shift the Blame onto Diet Culture
The example that has always stuck out in my mind was one from Evelyn Tribole that she shared while I was becoming Certified in Intuitive Eating.
If you bought a brand-new car, drove it off the lot and a couple hundred metres down the road the car would break down. Would you blame yourself? Or the car dealership?
You would blame the car dealership for selling you a faulty car!
However, with diets we are taught to blame ourselves.
- We blame ourselves when we can’t stick to the diet the way we are “supposed” to.
- We blame ourselves when the weight doesn’t come off.
- We blame ourselves when we can’t maintain the weight loss.
My mission is to help you STOP blaming yourself and help you start blaming the real culprit, diet culture. Diet culture is what influences body image on a crazy unhealthy scale these days, especially due to the vast constant usage of social media.
Body Love vs. Body Respect
Body love often seems so far out of reach for women in larger bodies. Which is why I didn’t title this blog, “3 Steps to Falling in Love with Your Larger Body.” I titled it, “3 Steps to Respecting Your Larger Body.”
“Loving” your body often brings up images of fat women in bathtubs with rose pedals floating by. I know when I began working on my poor body image issues. THAT seemed impossible.
But what did feel possible for me, was learning to respect my larger body versus body shame. Learning to respect her ability to breathe for me every day. Respecting her ability to carry me through the day. Respecting her ability to pump blood throughout my body.
Women in larger bodies are continually given the message that we can’t love ourselves & respect our bodies until we are tiny. This simply isn’t true!
Imagine living in a larger body and deeply respecting your vessel. It’s possible. I promise!
Why Women in Larger Bodies Struggle with Loving Their Bodies
Our society constantly bombards us with messages on, “how to lose weight & fall back in love with yourself.” As if it’s impossible to love or respect yourself without losing weight…
Society tells you that you have to shrink in order to focus on being healthy.
Society tells you that you have to shrink in order to fit into their clothing.
Society tells you that you have to shrink in order to find love.
We are continually bombarded with these bad body image messages wherever we go!
When you are checking out at the grocery store and see magazine cover after magazine cover selling this new diet or highlighting a celebrities “what she eats in a day to stay fit.”
When you go to your doctors to ask for testing on your health concern but instead are met with a monologue on why you need to lose weight.
When you go to the gym and struggle to ignore all the wandering eyes as you go about your favourite workout routine.
Instead of asking yourself why you struggle to respect your body, ask yourself how would you not in our world obsessed with weight loss? Healthy body image and the media always seem to be at war.
In our world that is obsessed with weight loss, food restriction & being skinny. How would you not struggle with loving your body? It’s the natural effects of negative body image talk.
Let’s dive into 3 practical things you can do each and every day to work on respecting your body just as she is!
1. Wear Clothing That Actually Fits Your Body
I can’t even describe how often I hear from clients, “I just want to feel comfortable when I get dressed in the morning. I just want to open my closet and see clothing that actually fits me.”
Guess what boo, YOU CAN! And this is a huge part of respecting our bodies!
Sadly, us folk in larger bodies think that feeling uncomfortable in our clothing is our rite of passage into a smaller body. Like a punishment that will convince us to eat less or finally start exercising.
Let me ask you something, how often throughout the day do you end up body bashing BECAUSE your clothing does not properly fit you?
That is not respecting your body!
That is 100% diet culture telling you that forcing yourself to wear clothing that doesn’t fit will make you lose weight and keep it off! The type of negative body image that results from listening to diet culture is toxic.
You deserve to feel confident & comfortable in your clothing NO MATTER YOUR SIZE. You deserve to feel confident & comfortable in your clothing TODAY!
I challenge you to Marie Kondo the heck out of your closet. If your clothing doesn’t make you feel like a comfortable Queen, DONATE IT!
Purchase clothing that reflects the love you want to feel toward your body, even if you don’t feel it quite yet!
The other topic with clothing that I want to bring up, you do not have to wear clothes that hide your body.
If you love to wear baggy, black clothes that cover every inch of your body, you do you!!
But if you drool over your coworkers floral printed dress or have a Pinterest board labelled, “what I will wear when I am finally skinny.”
Here is your official permission slip to BUY THOSE CLOTHES NOW!
You do not have to wait to buy the crop top or the mini skirt. Nobody has the right to tell you that those are “skinny clothes.” Seriously, go buy those clothes!! This will be freeing and will better support a healthy body image too!
Do a little google search in your area and find the trendiest plus sized store around and HAVE FUN!!!
If you are hesitant to commit to this step because of finances remember amazing online consignment stores like Thred Up that have plus sized clothing!
I’ll say it again for the girls in the back, NO MATTER YOUR SIZE, you deserve to wear clothing that actually fits your current body!!
2. Practice Proper Hygiene for Your Larger Body
Often a large part of people feeling uncomfortable in their bodies is that they don’t practice proper bodily hygiene for their body size.
Why? Again, it’s often because we think that we need to simply shrink ourselves instead of putting effort today into feeling comfortable and safe in our current bodies! We would sooner google the newest weight loss trend then google how to take care of our fat bodies.
Plus, who was actually taught proper plus sized bodily hygiene?! I know I sure wasn’t! It wasn’t until I googled “How can I take care of my fat body?” That I stumbled across resources to help me respect my current body!
This blog is my absolute fav on this topic and was one of the first ones I read from my google search! I often send it to clients who are struggling in this area.
Corissa gets into the nitty gritty with tips on everything from bathroom hardware to bra liners to phone fans! You’ll love her plus size hygiene tips!
For those who are currently giving me a blank look through your phone that says, “WTF is fat body hygiene?!” Let’s dive into five examples!
Proper soap for your skin folds is super important! Those areas of our body tend to get irritated and need the extra love.
Proper bathroom hardware to help us reach those hard to reach places. Yes, even shower heads tend to be created for skinny people. (Insert eye roll…)
Do you have trouble reaching where you need to reach when you are wiping post going to the bathroom? Guess what, you are far from alone!! Inside Corissa’s blog she outlines her fav bidet!
Long handled products are also important when it comes to ensuring that we respect our larger bodies by getting them clean!
Are you ever beyond annoyed at the intense sweating underneath your boobs that make you feel like your breasts are on a slip and slide? Me too!! Corissa explains the importance of purchasing bra liners!
If you haven’t gotten the hint, go check out this blog for all the feminine freshness tips! It gives more detail, specific examples & links as well as more fat hygiene tips!
3. Stop Overanalyzing Your Body
You walk past a mirror or a reflection in a window and immediately start bashing your body.
Ugh my thighs. Omg my double (or triple…) chin. My stomach.. I’m so embarrassed.
Body bashing is a huge issue that keeps us from respecting our bodies. If you’ve ever heard the term “internalized weight bias” you know the dangerous journey of first bashing our bodies, then hating them, and then full on believing that we are not worthy of different things in life due to the size of our bodies. Body shaming is a gradual negative spiral.
“Weight bias is defined as a negative attitude towards, and beliefs about, others because of their weight. Their negative attitudes are manifested by stereotypes and/or prejudice towards people with overweight and obesity. Internalized weight bias (IWB) is defined as holding negative beliefs about oneself due to weight or size.” – World Health Organization
Early in my journey towards accepting my larger body I had a mentor tell me to simply stop looking in the mirror or at the window to see my bodies reflection. At first, I was confused, “isn’t the goal that I feel neutral about my body? How does not looking aid in that?”
But I trusted her, and for 2 weeks I did my best to not look and if I did, I would look away as quickly as possible. If I was doing my makeup, I would only look at my face, I wouldn’t allow my gaze to trail down. I would not get dressed in front of a mirror or put lotion on in front of the mirror. When I walked down the street, I did not look at the windows beside me.
And guess what happened? I had less mental energy going toward bashing my body and it opened up space for me to begin to accept myself as I was…
It amazed me how much brain space I had to put towards things I was actually passionate about in life. Plus, the energy I had to truly be present in a meeting or with my husband in the evening. I wasn’t constantly thinking about my body!
Try it! Challenge yourself for 2 weeks to LOOK AWAY! See what happens…
You might be amazed at how much quieter that body bashing voices gets when you simply stop looking!
It is Possible to Accept Your Body Just the Way it is!
I know that it may not seem like it right now, but I promise, IT IS POSSIBLE to accept your current body.
Remember, when body love seems completely unrealistic, lean into body respect & neutrality. Respect your body for breathing, moving your limbs and digesting your food.
Shift the blame onto diet culture and away from yourself! Wear clothes that actually fit your body and Marie Kondo your closet.
Practice proper hygiene for your larger body and choose to no longer bash your body and rather respect her for who she is. Try looking away from the mirror for 2 weeks and see what happens!
You can learn to respect your body deeply, even while having a fat body. I promise!
Work with a Professional
Sometimes no matter how many blogs we read or podcasts we listen to, we need to work with a professional when it comes to escaping diet culture and respecting our bodies.
This is completely normal! I myself invested in a mentor after I chose to heal my relationship with food & my body. I am so grateful I did, and I know that for myself, there is no way I could’ve walked that road alone when I desperately needed a helping hand.
I needed someone who understood what I was going through and someone who could give me direction on my healing journey. Someone who had walked in my shoes and had experienced healing.
I now help women feel at peace around food once again and heal from disordered eating, click here and see if what I have to offer may be a great fit for you!
Until next time, happy healing!