Madi Custer, one of our frequent youth writers in the magazine, shared some great tips for working out this summer in the June issue. Now watch her video where she demonstrates some great and easy workouts that you can do this summer while getting great results! Don’t forget to subscribe to her channel!
Body Shaming: Stop It! My Personal Experience with Body Shaming
Maybe your morning is similar to how mine used to be? You wake up and get ready to take a shower, only to glance at yourself in the mirror and wrinkle your nose in disgust at what you see–all the things that you don’t like about yourself and your body.
This has been my attitude toward myself for as long as I could remember. Most recently, I’ve hated that my stomach wasn’t flat. I disliked the roll I saw under my chin if I pushed my neck back. I didn’t like the way my clothes fit on me anymore. But this isn’t a new occurrence just because I’ve gained weight since I got married. (What can I say? We LOOOOVE eating chocolate chip cookies together!) Even when I was the skinniest I’ve ever been, I still would look in the mirror and pinch the almost non-existent layer of skin on my stomach and tell myself, “You’re so fat.”
I used to think that I was “motivating” myself to work out by insulting a part of my body I didn’t like. Because if I told myself that I didn’t like it enough, I would have the motivation to change it, right? Maybe. But what I didn’t realize that I was tearing down my own self-esteem. Instead of needing someone else to make fun of me or make me feel bad, I was doing it to myself. And it’s taken me 29 years to realize that I was doing it.
(A photo of me from college that I actually really like. But even though I was in good shape, I still wasn’t always saying nice things to myself.)
(A more recent photo. I like this photo, but it’s really hard for me not to focus on the extra “fat” under my chin that I don’t remember being there before.)
I call it body shaming: the act of telling yourself matter-of-factly the parts of yourself that you don’t like…Mean Girls style.
I didn’t see anything wrong with it before. I thought since I was only thinking it to myself that it was okay. But I would NEVER say anything similar to anyone else. I would never call anyone “fat” or say that their stomach was too big or thighs too wide. I would never be mean to anyone else like I have been mean to myself.
Which makes me wonder…I always told myself that I was a daughter of God and that I had worth, but did I really believe it? Because I wouldn’t criticize or berate anyone that I thought was of worth like I did to myself. In this case, instead of following the Golden Rule (“do unto others as you would have others do unto you”), follow the Love Yourself Rule (“do unto yourself as you would do unto others”).
If you’re like me and you struggle with body shaming, we need to follow the wise counsel of Elder Uchtdorf and “stop it!”
Here’s some things you can do to train yourself to stop body shaming:
1) Stop yourself when you hear thoughts of you being mean to yourself
If you notice you’re telling yourself you’re fat or something equally as mean, look at yourself in the mirror and say “stop it!” The first step to stop body shaming is to recognize when you’re doing it and stop doing it!
2) Give yourself positive comments
Instead of telling yourself negative things when you are trying something good (like eating well or exercising), tell yourself, “You can do this!” or “You’ll get through this” or “You’re doing great; keep going!”
For too long, I would start to eat well, but then I would slip, and then I would hear myself berating myself for being so weak. Or I would start working out and would skip a day, and I would tell myself that I was fat and lazy. It’s no wonder that I lost motivation to keep going when I was telling myself that I was worthless and couldn’t do it. Once I started telling myself that it was okay that I ate a chocolate chip cookie—I could start eating well again tomorrow–or that it was okay that I missed my workout that morning—I could try again that night–, I noticed that my motivation was higher. I felt better about myself. I was more likely to succeed.
It is almost impossible to succeed if you have someone following you around telling you that you can’t do it. It will be impossible if you are that person.
3) Take care of yourself
Because I didn’t feel good about myself, I started dressing frumpily so that I and others couldn’t see “my fat rolls.” I rarely ever dressed up, and when I did, I found myself criticizing myself because my clothes weren’t fitting anymore.
Instead of feeling bad about not fitting into a medium or large anymore, I decided to accept that I was larger and went out and bought some clothing that were actually in my size (while fighting off the voice that kept criticizing me for having to shop in a larger size). When I tried on clothing and it didn’t fit, I just told myself calmly that I needed a different size and that was okay. And when I left the store with some clothing that I knew made me look great (even in a size XL), I felt so much better about myself.
And I also realized that I wasn’t really feeling great about myself because I wasn’t feeling well. The more I work out or eat well or get a good night’s rest, the better I feel, so I started doing these things not to change the way I looked but to make myself feel better.
But don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re just starting out to change your diet or exercise routine. Start out changing one thing in your diet like eliminating soda. Do a short workout routine instead of jumping into something crazy like P90X. (Watch this Studio C clip to see what I mean.)
If you go too extreme too quickly, you are setting yourself up for failure, and then your thoughts will REALLY want to criticize yourself for failing. Instead, set yourself up for success, and you will eventually be doing those crazy P90X jumps! J
4) Ask the Lord for help
Start out every day with prayer, asking the Lord to help you be nice to yourself. Study “Divine Nature” in Personal Progress and really believe that you have the worth that the scriptures and the Lord say that you do. Tell yourself throughout the day that you are a daughter of God and that God loves you no matter what and that you will love yourself, too…no matter what. And then thank the Lord when you’re able to eat well one day or do a hard workout.
The fact of the matter is…if you’ve been body shaming yourself for as long as I have, it’s going to be hard to get over the habit of saying mean things to yourself. But with practice and prayer and help from the Lord, you will be able to start building a loving relationship with yourself that will not only make you more attractive on the inside but the outside as well. You will stand up taller, look people in the eye more, and hold yourself in a confident way. Learn to love yourself and treat yourself well, and you will find that you will not only love yourself more but the Lord and others more as well.