Body dissatisfaction should never be normalized. Always remember to give thanks for your health, and appreciate all that your body does for you.
We live in a weight- and body-shape-obsessed society, making it all too easy (and normal) to develop body dissatisfaction.
First recognized in the 1980, researchers coined the term “normative discontent” for the widespread negative body image, particularly among women, that was found in the United States. That phrase describes the issue perfectly, and points to how easily we fall prey to cultural norms even if they make us miserable. It has become normalized and socially acceptable to hate your body to the point that if you don’t, you are the minority.
Isn’t that sad?
While this may be more common among women, men come under the same pressure to look a certain way.
It starts young, too. A staggering 42 percent of girls in first through third grades want to be thinner, while 81 percent of 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat. Further, eating disorders affect 10 million females and 1 million males.
While there are many causes for developing eating disorders, we see exponential increases in body dissatisfaction, internalization of the thin ideal (or muscular ideal), and disordered eating from continual exposure to media and popular fitness culture. Feeling inferior or flawed can make us desperate, as evidenced by the $60 billion diet industry.
But there is an answer to this madness: cultivate gratitude.
With such extreme societal pressures, it may not feel realistic to love — or even like — your body, at least right now. It may be easier to practice body respect, weight neutrality, and less emphasis on appearance in general. Shifting focus from appearance to how your body feels or functions can help you cultivate gratitude for what it can do or allows you to do.
As you cultivate gratitude for your body, embrace where you are at and connect with what your body needs. This leads you to take care of yourself in a way that can bring about improvements in your overall health and well-being. It has nothing to do with changing or manipulating your body; rather, it has everything to do with supporting, respecting and caring for it. If your body changes as a result, then there’s that.
If it doesn’t, it’s no less deserving of support, respect and self-care.
Don’t fall back into the cycle of thinking you can hate yourself into feeling motivated enough to change your body. Negativity and fear is never effective, it will keep you stuck and only causes more emotional distress.
Food and body peace is absolutely possible, and cultivating gratitude is the path to get there.
Adapted from the original article.
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Emily Fonnesbeck, RD, CD, CLT is a private practice Registered Dietitian based in Saint George, Utah. Instead of creating unnecessary restrictions, Emily focuses on helping individuals become confident and in charge of their own well-being through Intuitive Eating and Mindful Living. She is a strong believer and advocate for helping people become capable individuals who are confident in taking care of themselves. Make a visit and read more from Emily.