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Why women should stop hating their bodies

Posted March 31

Imagine what the world would be like if women stopped hating their bodies. What if women spent less time obsessing about food and body image and used that time and energy instead to solve the world’s problems? I literally get goose bumps every time I imagine a world full of women who love and appreciate their bodies. The way we feel about our bodies directly affects the way we take care of them, so it’s worth making an effort to cultivate self-love.

Hearing someone say "just love your body" can feel a bit condescending and maybe even impossible for some. Well-intentioned comments like that often seem fluffy and lack substance. Many people struggle to put this advice into action because they mistake loving their bodies with being perfectly content and never having a negative thought about body image. You don’t have to be completely free of negative thoughts to start loving yourself. You can make that choice today.

The truth is this: No matter how much work you do to learn how to love and appreciate your body, you will likely have to continually make a conscious effort to not dwell on the negative thoughts that are natural and part of the human condition. Learning to love and appreciate your body is a choice you make each day to remain positive and not dwell on things you cannot control and things that don’t lead you where you want to go.

The great news is learning to love (or at least learning to be neutral about) your body can lead to improved mental and physical health. We take great care of the things we love, while we usually don’t take good care of the things we hate. So if health and well-being are the goal, don’t you think it’s a waste of time and energy to hate your body?

“In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die Where you invest your love, you invest your life.”

Mumford & Sons says it well. These bodies we have are the only ones we will ever get. If we invest our love in ourselves, we are investing in our life. We can create something truly beautiful when we invest some time and effort in loving and appreciating our bodies.

So why should women, in particular, work to move away from body hate? Here are six reasons.

  1. These are the only bodies we get. We don’t get a replacement body at any point in life, so it’s just a plain old waste of time to hate yourself.

  2. Hating our bodies has never really led to anything good. Hating your body has likely never gotten you where you want to go in life. Usually that sentiment really only leads to more self-destructive behaviors and eating patterns that don’t produce lasting peace or health.

  3. Regardless of ability, shape or size, our bodies do incredible things for us every single day. Take some time to appreciate what your body does for you, rather than putting such a focus on what it doesn’t look like or what you wish it looked like. Developing gratitude for your body is a powerful way to create a healthier relationship with food and your body.

  4. Self-love is a lot more powerful than self-hatred. Cultivating a sense of self-love actually makes it easier to make balanced nutrition choices that are in the best interest of your body and your mind. When you are stuck in the cycle of self-hatred, it’s all too easy to turn to food to numb the pain of feeling like a failure, which, in the end, only exacerbates the eating struggles.

  5. All bodies come in different shapes and sizes; there’s no wrong way to have a body. Learn to celebrate differences rather than trying to be the same as someone else. Comparing is draining your time and energy. Use that energy instead to do something in the world you truly care about.

  6. Don’t put your life on hold waiting until the day you have the “right” body to start living. Life is happening now! Enjoying the beautiful moments of life is so much easier when you’re not constantly stressing about your body. Learning to love yourself right now is an important step toward really living.

If developing love for your body seems a bit out of the realm of your ability right now, start by aiming for neutrality about your body. When you catch yourself saying something negative to yourself in your own head, make an effort to turn the self-talk toward more positivity or neutrality. It’s amazing how practicing a more neutral or positive approach to yourself can actually make healthier behaviors much easier and more sustainable. It’s worth the effort!

We were meant for so much more than self-hate. Women hating their bodies keeps women small. It keeps women from accomplishing all that we are capable of in this world. So get out there and learn to be a bit kinder to yourself and see how your life gets fuller!

I want to be clear: Not every woman (or man, for that matter) struggles with body image. If you’re reading this and you don’t relate to these struggles, consider yourself extremely fortunate. I’m not trying to imply that every person struggles in these ways, but enough people do struggle that it’s an important topic to discuss.

Paige is a registered dietitian nutritionist specializing in helping people heal their relationship with food. She hosts Nutrition Matters Podcast and has a private nutrition consulting business based in Salt Lake City.

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