I am standing for anyone who has struggled with a self-esteem issue like me, because all bodies are valuable. To support self-acceptance, draw a heart on my body.
- Amy Pence Brown
Taking A Stand
If you haven’t seen Amy’s incredible display of humanity and self-love, I highly recommend you take 4 minutes to watch her video.
I had tears rolling down my face because I too, have struggled with accepting my body.
heart. heart. heart. heart.
I think what affected me most about her radical stand for positive body image is that liking yourself is a _universal _struggle no matter what your size, age, shape, gender and more.
This video was shot in Boise, Idaho which is pretty close to where I live in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I was so moved by it that I reached out to Amy to tell her about how I, too, believe in creating more conversation around positive body image, as a Body Image Movement Global Ambassador. I too want to make strides to bring more perspectives to my community. Her reply was that this was both really exciting and also surprising “in the best way”.
My hometown of Jackson Hole is …” a mountain town where most people look fit and healthy, (yet) a lot of self-loathing lies beneath the surface. In addition to people suffering eating disorders like bulimia, anorexia and binge-eating, others experience the same feelings to a lesser degree and over-exercise to compensate,” says Johanna Love in her 2016 article titled Love Your Body in the Jackson Hole News and Guide.
What Johanna said resonated with me personally and professionally. In my private practice as a Mind Body Nutritionist + Dynamic Eating Psychology Coach, I encounter a lot of stress and tears about our bodies from women and men (yes, men, too!) who are trying to maintain their appearance or change it to fit cultural ideals, and Jackson’s ideals as a fit, healthy mountain town.
So today, I’d love to share a few thoughts to help us to practice radical acceptance and see all bodies as valuable beginning with your own.
Feeling rebellious and want to take a stand for self-love like Amy?
Practice These Four Tips:
Distance yourself from media that makes you feel “less than”
We’re constantly bombarded with images of “perfect” bodies that it becomes extremely difficult not to compare yourself to these unrealistic images. You may be familiar with the expression “Comparison is the thief of joy” and that couldn’t be more true. Unplug more often and get away from mass media to give yourself space to appreciate things that bring you joy. For example, instead of flipping through that latest fashion magazine, why not read a fun novel or follow people like Amy Pence Brown on social media verses those that make you feel less than.
Observe your thoughts. What is your inner voice saying? What sparks the negative commentary? Most of us are unaware of the things we say to ourselves and don’t realize the effect is has on us as a whole. The next time you catch yourself saying to yourself “you’re too fat/thin/loud/awkward/freckled/whatever…” notice how your body responds.
When you attack yourself with negative words, your mind and body perceives this attack literally. This immediately puts the body in a stress response. Stress chemistry is not the body’s friend, unless you are being chased by a lion! What happens is that our sympathetic nervous system tells our body to release the stress hormones cortisol and insulin. Over a sustained period of time (read: every day that you express negative comments), these hormones tell our bodies to protect. Stress chemistry also wipes out our good gut bacteria, leaving us with weakened immune systems. Source
Let It Go
If you’ve ever said something along the lines of “I’ll start doing ____ when I ___ (for ex. lose X pounds), this one is for you.
Let go of the conditions that surround your happiness and fulfillment.
These thought patterns can lead to a life of constant self-rejection and downward spiraling. Through Mind Body Nutrition, which explores how you’re nourishing your whole self, we can dive deeper into what’s beneath those conditions you put on yourself and free yourself to be happy now, in the present.
Be in your body - Embodiment!
When was the last time you really felt in your body? When you weren’t speeding through life and distracted by _____ (everything under the sun)?
Embodiment is the ability to get out of our heads and into our bodies and connect to their wisdom.
When we’re really in tune with our body, we know what it needs. We’re able to empathize with our own needs and help ourselves in a positive way.
One way you can practice embodiment is by slowing down, bringing more awareness to your plate and how certain foods make you feel. Another way is to move in ways that make you feel good - dancing, walking, swimming, hiking, going to a yoga class. When you’re in this state, listen to what your body is telling you - it has wisdom to share!
Embodiment is a key step towards healing body image.
Remember: in a culture that plays on self-doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act. So be a rebel. Encourage others to be, too.
Have a comment, question? I would love to hear from you,
(photo courtesy of: www.amypencebrown.com)