Over time, the messages we have received about weight loss, nutrition and health have told us that we needed to fix our bodies. We are told that by hating our bodies, we were going to have a happier life and that hating our bodies was going to bring about change. We are told that we can never attain this change without ideal bodies.
I understand these sentiments for two reasons: one, for many advertising companies, selling fear and the idea of not being enough, drives sales; two, the media continues to propagate that a woman needs to be thin enough, skinny enough, white skinned and blonde haired to be ‘an ideal woman’ An ideal that only 5% of American women are naturally born with. Let us not even go into how photoshop has skewed our perception of our own body image. Ever heard the quote ‘even the girl on a magazine cover cannot recognize herself’
What these messages outrightly ignore is the fact that you and I come from different ethnic and biological backgrounds and hence our bodies cannot be or look the same.
What these messages did not acknowledge is that our personalities are different so we can’t all like the same thing. It misses the fact that at every point in our lives, health will mean different things for all of us.
And most importantly, it relegated us to giving up our self-esteem, our power and our self-worth to the body shaming complex. How often do you think men wake up thinking about their bodies and what needs fixing, stressing out about what to wear to cover up their shame their bodies and how not to upset people with the way our bodies look?
Have you ever considered that the time women spend thinking about what to eat, what foods to avoid and how they look in clothes or worse still how everyone is judging them for their bodies could have been used to create groundbreaking innovations? That is a lot of creativity going down the drain right there.
Right now, there are more teenagers attempting dieting than ever before. Why? Because the pressure to change – to fix our bodies has become even more intense. I know I attempted dieting as a teenager, I know that my beautifully blossoming body made me want to shrink at many times in my life but I am thankful I did not have access to the extreme ‘dieting’ methods and social media that teens have access to today.
I am thankful too that somehow, I found my way out of it no matter how long it took.
In all of this pursuit of thinness, what women really want is to have peace with their bodies, to be confident and comfortable with and in their bodies; dressed, undressed or standing in front of a crowd.
This peace cannot and has never been fully achieved by anyone hating their bodies and so far, it has been counter-productive. It is time to embrace a better way. It is time to focus on having a relationship with our bodies, learning what we love, what we don’t love, what feels good to us, how our bodies respond and react to food and how best to move our bodies in a way that feels good to us.
The truth is: the struggle to love with our ever-changing bodies goes way deeper than curves and has nothing to do with size because even the one who is in a smaller body always feels she needs more fat in her ‘asset’ areas – yes, I agree that those in bigger bodies have more to deal with daily.
Sadly, this struggle permeates every other area of our lives; our careers, as wives, as moms, our relationships, our mental and even physical wellbeing. I know it is not something we talk about every day or acknowledge but it is time to change this.
I know it is not just enough to talk about it in my corner and I know that women more than ever before need liberation. For this reason, I created Beyond A Dress Size podcast where my goal is to empower every woman listening to live life beyond the numbers on the dress label, scale or tape using stimulating conversations that pull-down misconceptions on nutrition, weight loss, health and body diversity. I find that when women embrace healthy lifestyle practices as a powerful form of self-care we take better care of ourselves beyond these numbers and to be honest with you – that is the most peaceful way to lose weight, be in a better state of health and function at your highest capacity.
This is not your regular nutrition and fitness podcast where we focus on depressing meal plans or how many hours you need to spend at the gym. We will take out the guesswork on what living a healthy lifestyle really means, ditch the confusion and make it easy to embrace for the everyday woman.
Yes, even the lady who you are so sure needs to lose weight will definitely do and function better if we all stopped judging her, she will feel more alive and more inclined to embrace healthy lifestyle practices daily. She will stop binging every evening and turning to food whenever she feels sad after a hard day of negative comments about her body. She will go out, have fun and even seek therapy/support for other issues she needs to deal with. So, it is not just enough to love your own body, express love to other bodies too. Well, sadly it is an uphill task to respect and love someone else’s body if we don’t love ours. So yes, in the words of Luvvie Ajayi, we all need to do better.
As parents, it is important that we have conversations with our children – girls and boys. The boys are the ones who thanks to cultural appropriation make negative comments about a woman’s body and think it is funny. The girls are the ones who receive these messages; in school, from the media and even from cartoons. There have been several reports of depression and other mental illnesses arising from a negative body image and even though we don’t have these reports in Nigeria (because data is lacking), parenting has to be proactive today, don’t wait for it to knock on your door.
I believe Beyond A Dress Size podcast was created for a time like this. As you listen to each episode, use it as a powerful tool to enlighten, to liberate and to start conversations worth having so together we can create a formidable force of judgement free women who love their bodies, own it and live in it fabulously. Of course I’d love to hear your thoughts too; feedbacks, comments questions or leave a review.