Body Kindness – The Antidote to Body Shaming

Seeing how people were happier and healthier after shifting movement patterns to align with their natural structures, gave him the deepest sense of reward he’s felt professionally. Having built impactful and successful businesses in consumer health as well as clinical laboratory, his passion and mission have led him to founding Way. Check out his work and learn more here.

Body Kindness – The Antidote to Body Shaming

With the world we live in today, is it any surprise that Body Kindness sounds like a funny term. Has it ever crossed your mind how often we are told to change our appearance?

Magazines, movies, and commercials all tell us to be a certain size or shape. These mediums constantly offer tips on how to appear slimmer “instantly,” lose weight “in days,” and hide our “imperfections”, all without knowing anything about us or our appearance.

Comedians make jokes about people’s weight, children tease classmates in school, and friends comment on one another’s clothing choices. That can lead to a vicious cycle of judgment and self-loathing. Unsurprisingly, body shaming is an extremely common practice and a form of abuse that has been around for centuries despite having harsh consequences.

What defines body shaming?

The Way app and the Mindful Shifts Pathway has 18 Sessions that can help with Body Kindness, Body Image, and Self-Talk. (Credit: Way)

Body shaming is the act of making negative comments about a person’s body or focusing on their perceived physical flaws. It can be an act of judgment and criticism of oneself or others, often leading to feelings of shame, inadequacy and low self-esteem.

Body shaming can take many forms, such as teasing, name-calling, bullying and negative attitudes towards someone’s body size, shape, or appearance. That’s not only damaging to a person’s emotional well-being, but it can also lead to physical harm. For example, body shaming can cause an individual to develop eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa and poor self-care habits. It has been linked to depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. Body shaming can manifest in many ways, including:

  • Criticizing another person’s appearance in their presence, such as “you’re too fat/thin/tall/short, etc.”
  • Making jokes about a person’s appearance.
  • Criticizing the body shapes of celebrities, models or other public figures in the media.
  • Commenting on someone’s clothing choices or style.
  • Comparing one person to another in terms of their physical appearance. • Fat-shaming or skinny-shaming someone.

Create a healthier, happier life by treating yourself with body compassion rather than body shame

One of the best ways to overcome body shaming is through practicing body kindness. Body kindness is a concept that encourages us to be compassionate, understanding, and accepting of our bodies. It involves viewing our physical selves in a positive light and honoring them with respect and care. Body kindness also means learning how to show compassion towards ourselves when we have thoughts and feelings that are related to our physical appearance.

Body kindness is not about changing ourselves to fit an ideal or striving for perfection – it’s about learning to accept and love ourselves exactly as we are. It requires us to look beyond the physical and learn how to appreciate our bodies for what they can do, rather than simply how they look. Instead of seeing our flaws, we see our strengths and recognize that each of us is unique in our own way.

When practiced consistently, body kindness can have a profound effect on both mental and physical health. It helps us develop a healthier relationship with food, encourages positive self-talk, improves self-esteem, reduces stress levels, boosts energy levels, and increases motivation and productivity. Furthermore, body kindness can help us recognize our self-worth and cultivate long-term happiness.

Body kindness is about understanding that we are all worthy of love and respect, regardless of how we look. It’s a powerful tool that allows us to embrace our bodies and create a happier, healthier life. So next time you find yourself engaging in body shaming, remember to practice kind words, positive thoughts, and self-compassion instead. Typically, it’s an important part of living a healthy life free from judgment and shame around physical appearance. It encourages us to be compassionate towards ourselves and others while recognizing the uniqueness of each individual’s body shape or size.

Practice body kindness – love your body

When you’re trying to practice body kindness, it’s important to remember that you are worthy of love and respect. Treat yourself with the same care and compassion you would give to someone else. Acknowledge your own beauty and recognize that each of us is unique in our own way.

Give yourself permission to be kind – we often judge ourselves more harshly than anyone else, so start by giving yourself permission to be gentle and kind with your body. Celebrate your unique features and learn to appreciate yourself exactly as you are.

Focus on how you feel, not just how you look – focus on what makes you feel good instead of punishing yourself when you don’t look the way you want. Pay attention to how different foods make your body feel; experiment with self-care activities that increase energy levels, such as exercising or taking time out for relaxation.

Practice mindful eating – be aware of why and how much your eating by paying attention to what you are consuming. Notice if there is any emotional attachment to food, and use food as a source of nourishment rather than comfort or distraction from negative feelings.

Set realistic goals – set goals that are achievable and realistic for your lifestyle, like going for a walk each day, or aiming to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables. Avoid setting unrealistic expectations, like unrealistic weight loss goals, as these can lead to feelings of failure and discouragement.

Be kind to yourself – try replacing negative self-talk with positive affirmations. Remember that you have the power to choose how you perceive yourself; focus on things that make you unique and celebrate your successes no matter how small they may seem.

At the end of the day, body kindness is about understanding that we are all worthy of love and respect regardless of our physical appearance. It’s a powerful tool for cultivating long-term happiness and creating a good relationship with your body.

Abby Langer, RD and Canada’s Leading Dietitian Expert, gives all to real examples of what Body Checking is like, while showing you some ways to find Body Kindness. (credit: Abby Langer, RD)

How do we challenge body shaming?

The best way to overcome body shaming is by practicing self-love and kindness. Body shaming can have damaging effects on an individual, and we must therefore strive to be more aware of our own words and actions and how they affect those around us. It can be helpful to remember that everyone has insecurities and that it is important to treat ourselves and others with respect. It is also essential to surround yourself with people who will lift you up and support you regardless of your appearance.

There are many ways to practice body kindness:

1. Speak kindly to yourself and others about their bodies.

2. Practice mindful eating and focus on the health benefits of food rather than the calories or fat content.

3. Stop comparing yourself to others or feeling ashamed of your body.

4. Avoid judging the bodies of others and focus on celebrating their unique qualities.

5. Learn to recognize body-positive messages in the media.

It is also important to be aware of the signs of body shaming so that you can address it when necessary. For example, if a friend or family member makes negative comments about their own body or the bodies of others, it can be helpful to remind them that everyone is beautiful and worthy of self-love.

Challenging body shaming in adolescents:

It can be hard for adolescents to identify ways of expressing frustration without turning to body shaming, as we have normalized this as an automatic response today. However, here are tips that can help:

Practice identifying why you’re upset: It’s important to practice self-awareness to identify why you’re feeling frustrated. This may involve taking time away from the situation or person to reflect and gain perspective. For example, when you’re upset, annoyed, or intimidated by a friend or schoolmate, take a moment to acknowledge your emotions and identify why you’re feeling the way you are. Develop new ways of expressing frustration instead of body-shaming: Once you have identified the reason why you’re upset, it can be helpful to think of ways to express your feelings instead of resorting to body-shaming. Practicing communication techniques such as active listening, assertiveness, and conflict resolution can help adolescents learn new ways of expressing themselves.

Identify who in your life is body-positive: It can be helpful to surround yourself with people who will lift you up and practice body positivity. This could include friends, family members, teachers, counsellors or mentors who accept their bodies and those of others.

Confront those who perpetuate body-shaming. Once you’re aware of the signs of body shaming, it’s important to confront those who perpetuate this behavior. This could involve having a conversation with family members, peers, or other members of your community about why body shaming is harmful and how it affects everyone.

Find things (or something) you LIKE about your body. It can be helpful to make a list of things you like about your body to challenge negative thoughts and build self-confidence. Accept things you can’t change because they’re out of your own control, such as your height or eye color. Instead, focus on things you can celebrate, such as your strength or creativity.

How to help a loved one who has been body shamed

If you know someone affected by body shaming, it can be helpful to be a supportive friend and provide emotional support. Here are some ways to help a loved one who has been body shamed:

  • Listen and validate their feelings: Providing emotional support and space for them to talk about their experience with body shaming is crucial. Let them know that you are there for them no matter what.
  • Remind them of their worth: Validate their feelings but also remind them of their worth and self-worth.
  • Help them find healthy coping mechanisms: Help your loved one to develop healthy coping mechanisms such as exercise, yoga, or art.
  • Find body-positive role models: Help your loved one to find positive role models in the media who show that all bodies are beautiful.
  • Encourage positive self-talk: Remind your loved one to practice positive self-talk and to focus on their strengths and qualities.
  • Encourage seeking professional help: If your loved one is struggling with body image issues, it can be helpful to encourage them to seek professional help. A therapist or counsellor can provide the necessary support and guidance to learn how to challenge negative thoughts and practice self-love.

Bottom Line with Body Kindness

We all have the power to challenge body shaming and to create a more favorable environment for ourselves and others. Practicing body kindness can foster greater self-acceptance and create an atmosphere of body neutrality