Getting Ahead of Shameful Body Image Thoughts

Posted August 20, 2012 by Monica O'Connell in Life After Five

Body image has been appearing in the work  I’ve been doing lately and as I’ve asked more questions, I’ve uncovered some deep seeded body hating conversations women have been having with themselves and their friends.

Body hating conversations sound something like the most vile, awful things you could say about another human.  Some people regard their bodies with disgust and disdain. I overheard one woman say, “I loathe everything about my body.” People say, “I hate my body” or “I hate my thighs.”  Some people only “kind of” dislike their bodies. They compare their bodies to other women’s bodies.  “Her (fill in the blank) is way better than my (fill in the blank body part).”

Some of these conversations are negative self talk and shame talk as I’ve previously discussed on Career Girl. Unfortunately, these thoughts are shame based and they’re parading around in people’s heads. They can be fleeting or can significantly interfere in people’s lives. One woman mentioned being unable to spend more than 5 minutes exercising because she mentally tortured herself the whole time. Another said that most of the summertime was embarrassing for her because she hates how her legs look in shorts. And while hating the entire summer is one option, I’d venture to guess that most people would prefer another.

I asked a group of lovely ladies who continuously demonstrate that you can get ahead of these psychotic, awful thoughts that you have about your body and start finding ways to love yourself. Here’s what they said:

  • Practice acceptance and non-judgment. I say to myself, “I’m already perfect, I’m content with my body.”
  • Stop spending time and energy worrying about micro details. Instead, find three things a day that your body does miraculously and perfectly. Celebrate those.
  •  I finally realized that being attractive isn’t actually based off of being a certain weight. It’s about being healthy and happy with myself. Everyone has different bodies. There’s no way mine can be like yours so I need to quit pretending it will be.
  •  You MUST be kind to yourself always everyday, in front of people and when you are by yourself. The messages you send yourself effect everything you do.
  • I quit resenting my body for something my mind was in control of. For example, when I ate French fries instead of vegetables, I would torture my body the next day by not eating. My body didn’t make that choice and needs fuel. Today I choose french fries and enjoy them and make sure I eat my vegetables too.

I loved these! What one speaks the most to you? What’s your body image solution? I’d love to hear.

About the Author

Monica O'Connell

Monica O’Connell is a Licensed Marriage and Family therapist in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In her practice, she spends her career cheering on “Career Girls” as they learn how to get the most out of life. Monica works with arguably some of the most successful, intelligent, inspiring women in the Twin Cities who tackle self-discovery, career success, and what’s getting in the way of their true desires. She shares her favorite moments as those “best described not by words but by the stomach aching, face soreness that comes from spending an entire day laughing with loved ones.”