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Body Shaming: A Case for Taking An Individual-Responsibility Approach

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Going to sharing a little tough love today. You ready? If you are not on board with #RadicalResponsibility, then just stop reading right now ;)

Okay, good.

So, there’s been much talk on the interwebz lately about body shaming. T-Nation put out a controversial article in favor of shaming yourself (“Shaming is a good thing!” #wut), saying that a little personal peer pressure never hurt anyone and what happened to be able to objectively call someone “fat?” The piece obviously received a huge backlash from women who have had the experience of in fact NOT being motivated by shaming, self-inflicted or otherwise. Duh.

Is there anything less motivating than being called “fat” or someone telling you that you have no willpower and are lazy? Um, no. The idea that shame works for lasting motivation for 99% of the population is simply not true.

I’ve actually written on body shaming before, here and here.

But today, I want to offer up an alternative.

I am obviously not pro-shaming. But if I’m honest, that’s more because I am just anti-negativity in general (#goodvibesonly) and pro personal freedom and staying in our own business. When someone judges another’s body, it’s fine in the sense that each person is entitled to their opinion (and whether we say it out loud or not, we are all judging all the time, it’s just what humans do). But the idea that I should then take it upon myself to TELL someone what I think of their body is just absurd. Which is what I mean about staying in my own business. It’s not my business what someone else does or doesn’t. It’s absolutely not my business what someone else looks like, or what they say or how they behave.

And here’s the ultimate lesson for me: it’s actually not even my business to police people who are body shaming.

Do I think negativity is uncalled for? Yes. In fact, I think it’s super lazy. But the idea that it’s my job to police people, or “society” and try to control anyone is just not feasible. It would be a perfect world where my way was THE way, but alas, it’s not possible.

But what I can do is use the JillFit platform to promote independent thinking and personal responsibility when it comes to how you handle shaming.

My bottom line? You alone are 100% responsible for your responses and your reactions. #RadicalResponsibility, remember? ;)

Ready for my tough love?

The way I see it, feeling shame about your body is a choice. And one that, albeit, is incredibly easy to jump on board with. In fact, for most women, it’s probably automatic. Someone mentions how we skipped a day at the gym, and we immediately think they’re inferring we’re overweight and we suck.

Our insecurities like to defend themselves! So we like to make assumptions and take things personally and defend and deflect. We all do it.

But ultimately, the feeling of shame is a choice.

 

If you’ve read anything by the incredible Brené Brown, you know that shame is so common. It’s pervasive. For many of us, it’s our default. That’s not a judgment, but simply a recognition that we are all the same—dealing with insecurities and feelings of not-good-enough-ness all the time.

Brené says vulnerability is the antidote to shame. When we are open and honest and expose our insecurities by actually acknowledging them, saying them out loud, owning them, the shame dissipates: “Shame cannot survive being shared.”

And so, while feelings of shame might come to us automatically, there is plenty of room for interpretation and choosing a perception that serves us. And that’s where taking responsibility for your responses comes in, and doing that mindset work is important!

I posted my birthday selfie two months ago, with a shot of my midsection. I explained that my only physique goal is maintenance and honestly, more so, I am striving to like myself and enjoy how I do things. The response was awesome (mindset wins, not because I was lean), and really warmed my heart because many of you feel the same way.

And I got a few judgmental comments, but that’s expected whenever skin is posted online. Why? Because physique stuff is a hot button for insecurity, shame and comparison. Often we will get an emotional “hit” when we see someone who is either leaner or less lean than us. It’s normal to compare. But then the question becomes, what do we do with that?

If seeing someone who is leaner than us makes us feel not good enough, then baby, we have some work to do! Because you are uniquely adequate, worthy and awesome right this second! And it’s a choice to believe that (or not). And it’s a choice to work on that positive self-talk (or not).

And it’s a choice to use someone else to justify our feelings of insecurity (or not).

 

It can be hard to do because much of our not-good-enough-ness is automatic and ingrained. And like Erin Brown says, “We seek out evidence that our perceptions are real.” But it’s not impossible. It’s not impossible to change your internal dialogue to one where you get to feel empowered regardless of whose abs are popping.

And ultimately here’s the problem I have with the body-shaming issue. There seems to only be two sides: you’re either for it or against it. But what about a third option where we just don’t give a fuck? I am for a scenario that promotes working on ourselves! Working on feeling empowered and secure and awesome regardless of who is saying what about our body or someone else’s! #bye

I propose an individualistic approach to dealing with feeling body shamed.

Because the idea that anyone can make me feel a certain way about myself or my body is just not true. They can certainly challenge my insecurities. They can shine a spotlight on where I have some introspection and self-love work to do. They can test my self-confidence. And they can give me the opportunities to practice valuing myself and feeling good enough no matter what.

But when I blame others for my emotions, I’m at the mercy of what shows up in my life. I get to play the victim and shirk responsibility and feel insecure and stay helpless. That sucks! No thanks!

I have a say in my emotional response, how I show up, and how empowered I feel … don’t I? Being at the mercy of body shaming blows. And so, I choose not to be.

 

Can it be tough to navigate? Absolutely. Is there work involved to improve our inner self-talk? Of course. But that doesn’t mean we can’t harness the courage to try.

We are always responsible for our own responses.

On a societal level, body shaming sucks. And it actually just doesn’t work as a motivational tool, period (as is shown via research). Which is why I will never, ever defend it. But my ultimate goal with JillFit is to double down on tools and action steps FOR YOU. What can you do, right this second to feel in your power? That’s what matters to me.

The answer is choosing your response in every moment. Awareness, introspection, choosing a perception that serves you, and repeat.

Of course I am a work in progress, always, and my journey continues. As always, I’m loving you. Ox, Jill

 

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