Hi there reader,
Welcome! I’m glad you’re here to read these musings, rants, and navigation strategies. I’m Denise (She/her) and am excited to share, explore and walk with you as you read. I am a straight-sized, cis-gendered human, and I know our experiences are different, and I would like to attempt guiding you to open some doors of exploration.
It might be a good idea to pull out a piece of paper, journal, notebook, open the notes app on your phone – writing can be helpful (even when it’s daunting). If your experience opens a door of discomfort or un-ease, please always walk away from the post and reach out to your trusted mental health provider for processing.
This post will talk about body image, both negative and positive, and some navigation strategies that have helped some of the folks I’ve had the pleasure of working with.
My thought of the day is how to get in tune with your body and to trust your body. This can be so nuanced, and I’m going to do my best at beginning the conversation. With peace, love, and ThoughtFull-ness, here we gooooooo…
Have you ever wondered about your body?
-is it good enough
-will people like it
-is it too fat
-is it too thin
-what will people say
-does this outfit look okay
-will they comment on my food choices
-should I wear this
-[you add a line or two]
Often our curiosities put other people’s comfort before our own. I wonder, if you made a list of curiosities does it include your comfort first? What might that look like?
-is it comfortable
-can I breathe well in it
-do I feel safe
-am I getting what tastes, looks, and sounds good
Body image is a loud topic right now with people touting more body love than body respect. What does that mean? With an emphasis on loving your body no.matter.what. the journey can be really difficult, especially if you live in a body that is deemed “not socially acceptable” aka fat.
Fat is not a bad word, as you might know. It just is. Fat became a “bad word” when people were taught to fear gaining weight (an absolutely normal part of life). Bear with me, here. People have lived in all body sizes and types for thousands of years. Yes, you can point out the thinner bodies through time, and have you looked at their access to food, movement, and mental and nutritional health care? What were the messages they had presented to them vs the messages you receive now?
What are you thoughts so far? (you’re welcome to write them privately or in a comment!) Any skepticism? Fear? Excitement?
Okay, back to body love and respect. Notice I didn’t say “vs” because we can ebb and flow in these spaces. I’d like to encourage you to take out a pen or get your typing fingers ready – what does “body love” mean to you? How about “body respect”? Some defining characteristics may overlap, and that’s okay. Do you experience either in a day’s experience?
Maybe to love your body you think about the unconditional love you so deserve and maybe to love your body feels too daunting because you “must” wake up every day and love it. [Insert your thoughts and feelings.] The way you speak to your body can shift the way you see your body. Sometimes the message to love the body almost has a sense of fake positivity about your body. Have you experienced that? You’re allowed to not love your body all the time. You do have to find respect for it; this body is yours alone that only you get to share really deep intimate space with, if you choose.
Maybe to respect your body feels just as daunting, or it feels a little more manageable. It is potentially easier to say “thank you” to one part of the body compared to loving all of it, most days of the week. That said, you can break both ideas down into pieces of support. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.
Again, I realize this can be a difficult exploration in any body, and especially one that is not cis-gendered, straight-sized, able-bodied, or white. So, your definition is totally up to you, and of course all the big and small messages you’ve received through your years, but ultimately you get to find your space and nurture it in the safest way possible, for you.
You deserve all the space your body and personality needs to take.
Here are some ideas to explore body “LOVE” and “RESPECT”:
Live – in the moment. Maybe a tool like the “give me 5” using your 5 senses to identify things in your direct surrounding can help to be in the moment. Live can also represent “we’re coming to you live, in the moment with the latest on…”
Observe – any thoughts, feelings, emotions that are helpful and unhelpful. Can you write them either in your phone or on paper to support yourself in that moment.
Vigilant – about your surroundings, including the people you’re with. How do you protect your peace when someone makes a comment to you about you, themselves, or someone else?
Explore – your experience. Journal (I know…it’s the big, hot recommendation right now), draw, walk (if it is accessible and safe), breathe, etc. Do something that is not harmful to you or anyone around you to reflect on your experience.
Recognize – your surroundings. What do you see? Do you feel any sense of comfort in the space?
Explore – the present. Who are you with? Are they safe? What colors do you see? What can you feel? Can you taste or smell anything? What do you hear?
Support – system. Who is supportive to you? Are you with that person or do you have a representation piece that you have always have with you as a reminder? (ex: a trinket that they gave you or one that reminds you of them)
Practice – patience and protecting your peace. You are the most important to you in this space. You deserve peace. If you have to remove yourself from a conversation and it is safe to lean on someone, you’re allowed. “I cannot participate in this conversation anymore, and if it continues I will have to leave this space.”
Experience – one piece of your setting; maybe you appreciate the color of the walls – it feels safe, you appreciate a server – they are friendly, or you sit next to someone who helps you feel calmer. You get to define how you’d like to experience your surroundings, and identify your safety measures.
Connect – to yourself with a fidget toy or the “give me 5” senses exploration (questions in “Explore”). You are the most important person. Using your senses can be helpful. If that is not safe, is there a texture you like to touch in different situations? (examples may include: stressed – smooth, anxious – rubbery, sad – slimy, comfortable – slinky)
Talk – with a trusted person about your observations to decompress.
You are the most important person in the room. Your body deserves the space it takes up.