There’s something on my mind and I don’t know if anyone else noticed it. Maybe it’s a side effect of January and the New Year but there is something I’ve noticed with my friend group, acquaintances, and even strangers I follow on the Internet: we are being really, really nasty to ourselves. And I absolutely hate it. It makes me want to avoid Instagram stories altogether. (I should tell you I’m also talking to myself here, too! No one is perfect, especially not me and we all can slide into bad behaviors from time to time. )
Let’s back up. It’s January. Everyone is on a health kick. I’m on a health kick! You’re probably on one, too! I didn’t manage to make it a dry January but I’m eating mostly healthy, guzzling all the celery juice, and getting to the gym most days. But then I go on Instagram stories and see women – my friends, my relatives, strangers, everyone really… just completely punishing themselves and being so mean… to themselves. “Oh I was so bad last night” “Oh I ate this thing and now I have to live at the gym this weekend.” At first blush it seems all very innocent but it’s certainly not how we’d talk to our friends. (Could you imagine saying that to your best friend?)
I was out at an event on Wednesday with a group of bloggers, editors, and influencers. There wasn’t a vegetable in sight and alcohol was flowing. We all had a little pizza and pretzel rolls. Nothing terrible – a slice of pizza, a little pretzel that’s maybe the same size as a small meatball. I can’t even count the times I heard “Oh I’m so gross.” “I can’t believe I just ate all that.” This is not constructive behavior. (I say this, again, talking to myself – as I heard how “gross” my friends were, I felt the temptation to say that I too was gross but managed to abstain. But it’s hard, especially when a friend who is a smaller dress size than you are is rambling on about how gross she is!)
Here is something I’ve been thinking about. What if we looked at our bodies the way we look at our homes? When your home is a mess, you know you need to tidy it up and take better care of it, but you don’t derive your self worth from it. You don’t lament it constantly. It’s a thing that you’re working on but it isn’t everything. You know?
Or, what if we talked to ourselves the way we’d talk to our best friends? That’s another way to think about it. “Would I say this to my best friend?” If not, squash that thought.
The point of this post is not to promote the podcast, but if you are struggling with body image right now or have fallen into the “I’m so gross” trap this week, I really would encourage you to listen to episode 34. We had Katie Sturino on from The 12ish Style. I took so much away from our conversation. She paints such a realistic picture of body positivity… body neutrality even. “Body neutrality” is when you look at yourself in the mirror and you don’t say UGH. It isn’t positivity (yet) but it’s a step in the right direction.
What really struck me was something she said about realizing there is NO END GAME. You diet, you exercise, you do all the things, you get to your goal weight. But guess what? You aren’t going to be any happier. Your happiness is not going to come from a number on the scale or inside of your jeans. Happiness comes from within.
So let’s cut the self bashing, let’s not punish ourselves if we eat a rich meal or have that extra glass of wine. Let’s just try being nicer to ourselves. Maybe make it a weekend challenge? I’m challenging myself to not say anything nasty to myself this weekend. Anyone else in? What do we think?
Have a great weekend (and be kind to yourself). xo
photography by Lydia Hudgens.