File under: Incredibly Obvious.
And maybe it’s not just women. Maybe it’s men, too. But I don’t work with them as much. Nor am I as interested in working with them as I am with women. But I do know that it is not just grown women. I know that my 7-10 year old dance students make regular negative comments on their own bodies. 7 to 10! That’s crazy. They are going to go through another 50+ years of body negativity? Yikes!
I had an eating disorder in my teens and 20s. Fitness saved me. It taught me to see my body as pure potential. To see food as healing, supporting and fueling. That experience has led to a burning passion for me to guide other women and girls to the same realizations.
I actually quote this statistic a lot in my classes-
“...on average, women have 13 negative body thoughts daily—nearly one for every waking hour.” (Shape Magazine, 2011)
I think that statistic is extremely low. An even more telling stat from the same survey is that 97% of women will have at least 1 “I hate my body” moment, EVERY day.
In my CABARRET classes, on our cool down stretches, I remind my students to thank their body, for all that it did, for exploring, for expressing. In my baby ballet classes, my 3 and 4 year olds thank their body parts for helping them to dance. This year, I introduced something new with my older girls, and on the last class before Thanksgiving, we talked about what we were thankful for...about our bodies!
These are not just silly exercises, or time-killers for my classes. This work is what I committed to- helping women celebrate their bodies now, even as they create a stronger, healthier body for the future. Helping women feel CONNECTED to their bodies, rather than trying to separate themselves from it.
Let’s be clear. Any time spent beating up your body is too much time. It needs to stop. I know, I know...the media…. The media doesn’t think your thoughts for you. Only you live in your head.
So, the next time a negative body thought pops up, capture it. (Maybe even try the exercise from the SHAPE study: for 1 day, write down every negative body thought you have.) Then ask your body to forgive you for that thought, and replace it with a thought of gratitude- that you are strong enough to pick up your kids, that you recovered from that cold, that your eyes are just the prettiest shade of blue. Something. Anything. Change the message. Your body hears everything your mind thinks.
As Louise Hay says “You’ve been beating yourself up for years now, and what has that done for you? Try being nice to yourself instead.”