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I can’t believe it’s already November! Crazy, right? Also – it seems like there has been a body image-related story in the news almost every day! So let’s get caught up …
FIRST OF ALL: Unless you’re just not totally obsessed with lady blogs, there’s no way you haven’t heard about the disaster that went down at Marie Claire last week. Writer Maura Kelly wrote a blog post about “watching fat people on TV” that basically sounded like some of the most superficial, hateful remarks from a junior high slambook. The post itself wracked up almost 1,000 comments, some of which were from Maura herself trying to defend herself. But she soon posted a lame-ass “apology,” saying that she thinks maybe her discomfort with overweight people stems from her own anorexia. (Uh, yeah, ya think?) Then, as if overnight, everyone had an opinion on the situation… I personally loved Dodai’s post at Jezebel, which called fat-phobics out as a bigoted idiots. Some of the comments actually made me tear up. For instance:
“I come to Jezebel nearly every day because it’s one of the only places I know of where I can honestly talk about body image with other people who (for the most part) get it. I’ve been able to talk about my struggles with showing my arms in sleeveless dresses, the hurt I’ve felt from my own parents sometimes, the judgement I feel when I eat in public – you name it. And yes, I’ve done all of this while trying (and succeeding, for the most part) to lose weight. Having a place to actually talk about it where I don’t get shitty platitudes like I do at Weight Watchers (“nothing tastes as good as thin feels”)has been a good thing. Hell, it’s been a great thing. I know it’s not here as a support group, but it certainly makes me feel like there are lots of other fabulous women who struggle too. And the fact that there is one little piece of the world that doesn’t judge me and condemn me for struggling all my life with obesity is glorious, indeed.” –erinfabu
Some thanked Dodai for her shoutout to women with PCOS, while others explain how much they used to hate their bodies when they were overweight, but they were still unhappy even after shedding a few pounds! It was once they learned to not equate their self-worth with the scale that they found themselves happier and healthier.
Reading these comments, I felt like I was surrounded (mostly) by other women who are all in the same boat: At various shapes and sizes, we’re all doing our best to be healthy. But sadly, a few self-hating skinnies with big, really loud media-backed megaphones don’t seem to have any clue what that looks like.
The fact that we’re often faced with their blog posts, advertisements, essays, feature articles, commercials, cover lines, books, etc. doesn’t help, when we’re already struggling with self-acceptance and body love. Hello, MORE news for ya: 40% of us are unhappy with our bodies, says a new survey by Glamour. And 71% of us “feel fat,“ even though only 46% are technically overweight.
Given the vitriol that one lone women’s pub (Marie Claire) seems to think is acceptable to spew about anyone who doesn’t fit into its fashionista definition of beautiful and healthy … is it any wonder that so many of us are paranoid and delusional about our own appearances? I mean, this isn’t exactly news to you, right?
Just look at Demi Lovato … The gorgeous young Disney star went to rehab this week for eating disorders and cutting, triggered by body image issues. This may be an extreme case, but it’s proof that the problem is out of control…
It seems to me every woman could stand to learn something from plus-size model Crystal Renn, who recently said, “I think that, you know, I will never be thin enough or big enough for anybody. So I think through this whole thing I had to just really be happy being who I am, and that’s when I found health.”
It’s not easy, that’s for sure. But I feel like, at least for me, it’s well worth the every pair of jeans, every glimpse of cellulite, every day struggle.
How ’bout you?
Almost 3,000 women, aged 18-40, were polled. And get this: Three out of four said that their body image woes—be that stretch marks, sagging breasts, too few curves, too many bumps or lumps—prevented them from being intimate, according to the survey. (Oh, also, three out of five ‘fessed to faking the Big O!) Agh!
In reporting these disheartening facts, The Mail hopes to assure readers by quoting a sexpert who basically says, Pat, pat, don’t worry, chickadees. Men aren’t looking at your full-fat cottage cheese thighs anyway! They’re just happy to be getting laid.
This is not helpful. We’ve all heard these stale words of wisdom since we were thirteen. Just stop fussing over your saggy, wobbly, chunky, curvy or non-curvy parts, because hey, he—or hey, maybe it’s she—doesn’t care. (Worse yet, we’ve also gotten really self-loathing advice like, “Just turn off the lights.”)
But trying to eradicate the problem by focusing on how our lover doesn’t care does nothing to address the core issue. So what? We still care! And it’s causing us crazy stress and costing us pleasure and intimacy. So, I think the solution, instead, is loving and accepting ourselves more, and kicking that negative self-talk to the curb! Yea, yea, it’s not that easy. I know.
Board-certified sex therapist Dr. Diana Wiley elaborates, “When a woman becomes fixated on the girth of her thighs or tilt of her breasts or cellulite, she can become unable to communicate what she wants, about her own pleasure. It can be a huge distraction, because you’re not present.”
To axe your Mean Girls inner monologue and get out of your head in bed, Dr. Wiley suggests:
- Thought-stopping. Consciously identifying that you keep thinking to yourself, “Wow, my butt looks so big!” Sometimes, once you’re simply aware that you’re mentally beating yourself up, you can curb it. It also helps to replace the negative self-bullying with positive self-talk. For instance, “My hair looks hot!” or “I really rocked those sexy black heels today.”
- If you’re “spectator-ing,” i.e. mentally sitting on the sidelines and giving yourself a hard time about your appearance, it’s impossible to enjoy yourself. Get out of your head by focusing on the sensations you’re feeling and your breath.
- Still having trouble? Try sensate focus, exercises developed to encourage partners to take turns paying increased attention to their senses (versus a mental thesis on your muffin top).
It’s not easy, I know, but it’s definitely worth it to be kinder to ourselves, especially in bed. Our bodies will thank us.
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