Body Shame to Body Gratitude

In the 1980’s I remember reading this line “what could women accomplish if we weren’t so focused on our bodies?” I wish I could also recall who said it, but I don’t. Regardless of the source, it has risen up in my mind at various times, shaping me, my decisions, and honestly, at times it has gotten in my way. I can’t hide with this quote.

Fast forward to today and I come across this comment from Dr Brene Brown, a shame and vulnerability researcher, who says that body image remains the number one shame trigger for women. As a woman, a competitor, an athletic coach, a health coach, I am continuously deciphering and living through the mysterious language and relationship with food, eating, and the body. I am not alone. I want to talk about this. But not just with women.

Though shame is the number one shame trigger for women, men carry shame, too. I do not wish to further the gap between men and women by talking about women as though they are different. We all have shame or had shame or will have shame about our body, as humans. Let’s all talk about it as humans.

Our bodies are our vehicles to experience the world, not a source of shame. The best and perhaps the only way to diffuse the shame we feel is to talk about it, to not be alone. Food, eating, and bodies can be a difficult language to understand, but I get it. I lived it, live it, fallen on my face because of it, and have thrived because of it. Lemons to lemonade, more lemons, more lemonade, an on-going supply. I want to get in there, fling the doors open and dive into this. What can women and men-people-accomplish when not so focused and shamed by their bodies? I don’t know for certain, but I am sure it will be brilliant and uncomfortable, perhaps at the same time.

For me it has been my thighs, people comment on them, my father referred to them as “tree trunks.” But lately I have discovered anyone commenting on my body is awkward, a little uncomfortable. These past few months A few people have commented on my arms. They ask me what I do to get them to look as they do. My reSponse is “not much.” I suppose it is hard to quantify that but I do a few push ups each week, a few reps in the wt room and swim a few days a week. To some that may seem like “a lot”. To others, not much. Anyhow, I have decided to say thank you and change the subject. I don’t care to have the attention. I feel good, that’s all that matters to me. The thighs, are an on-going relationship where I practice gratitude for all they can do. It is funny, I feel good in this body, but when I look at my thighs the old tape can turn itself on. I feel good, and that is what matters. To know the difference of look and feel makes all the difference.

And you, how are you feeling in your body? Can you feel true gratitude for all it can do? Listen with love to the messages from your body? Don’t be ashamed, let’s talk about it.

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