The skinny on body shaming

“It’s easy for you, look how slim you are”…. if I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that statement, I’d be a wealthy woman indeed.

I’ve been called slim, too skinny, tiny, small ‘lucky’ etc…and yes I’m lucky to a degree that this is my natural body type and also the accepted ‘norm’ for a healthy female. What you don’t know is I overcame an eating disorder in my early 20s that had developed in my teens, and suffered terribly from anxiety because of it. I struggled to have a “healthy” relationship with food and exercise and have learnt what I need to do every day to FEEL good! I’m constantly growing from my own experiences and client interactions and can honestly say I now LOVE my body.

Through my own journey I realised that the mind is the most powerful muscle we have, so I started studying Holistic Counselling to harness my own mindset. It took a good few years to get a grasp on limiting my eating or my bulimic lapses, which could be triggered by anything from an argument to overindulging to keep everyone else happy. It took a long time to have a balanced, relaxed and moderate approach to my health.

I’m sharing this because I’ve worked damn hard to get to a stable and wholesome place when it comes to my weight, shape and body positivity. That doesn’t mean I don’t have times where I feel a bit ‘blah’, but my head doesn’t instantly go to dark places anymore. Instead, I lean even HARDER into the daily rituals I know will nourish my mind, body and soul.

I’ve had to feel my way through all of this and that’s the key element I think many of us are missing when we body shame others, whether we perceive them to be “too fat” or “too skinny”. Feeling good in our bodies and in our clothes is different for all of us, as it should be, we’re all made differently and thank goodness for that!

The truth is you never know what someone’s perception of THEMSELVES is. They could be skinny, but not feel well, overweight because of a condition you know nothing about, or struggling with their body confidence because of someone else’s harsh words that they carry with them every day.

So, before you judge the woman (or man) you know nothing about… please, try and be kind, even in your mind.

When a client comes to me and tells me they want to lose weight, I listen, but that’s not the place I start to guide them from. Counting calories, strict eating, and daily weigh ins, is NOT my coaching style. It often leads to unsustainable and obsessive behaviours that create negative self-talk and disappointment.

But before all the dieticians and nutritionists go crazy, hear me out. There’s a certain minority of people who need this kind of system to start due to a life-threatening health status (severe obesity or anorexia) or a health condition (type 1 diabetes), or an elite athlete that needs a very specific nutrition and exercise plan.

But the average person, doesn’t fall into this. We get lost in a ‘one size fits all’ weight management mentality, when in reality losing weight is specific to your individual body type and physiology. To lose weight and sustain it, you need to make lifestyle changes that become second nature. The real secret is commitment (to yourself) and consistency.

Weight maintenance and a healthy and strong physique is a natural by-product of true health and energy. When you shift your focus to wellness practices daily, when it’s a lifestyle, when you don’t think you just do, you naturally shift your focus and find your happy place.

That’s where I’m at and have been at for years, and I’m passionate about helping other women find it too.

At the end of the day, my body’s structure, shape, ideal state and weight is going to be different to yours. But when you accept your own, honour it and work with it in a loving and appreciative way, you’ll find it will love you right back.

Finding your happy place with your weight comes from CONSTANT work on yourself, there’s no way around it, you’ve got to do the work – it’s where I started, and it’s where I always begin with my clients too.

I also think we need to support each other more, rather than passing judgements that come from our own insecurities or issues. How often does a woman make headlines when she gains weight? And it’s the same if she loses weight. It might not have even been the goal, just the result of finding a better balance of her health and happiness. We need to give ourselves a break and maybe if we do, other women will too?

Personally, I love that slim women are finally standing up to ‘skinny shaming’. But whether you’re slim because you won the gene lottery or because you exercise, eat nourishing foods and implore good practices for your health and wellbeing every day, we need to remember that skinny doesn’t always mean healthy.

How many of us honestly stand in front of the mirror and love what we see? Ask yourself why you want to be slimmer… do you want to be stronger? Feel better in your clothes? Keep up with the kids or grandkids? Sleep better? Feel more comfortable in your own skin?

It’s about positive empowerment more than weight loss. That’s what will keep you dedicated to your health and help you find your true self. Losing weight is just a happy by-product of finally meeting the REAL you.

Stay juicy,

C xx

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, reach out to the Butterfly Foundation for support.

Edited by: Beverly Ligman at Media Stable