Overcoming body shaming
A therapist gives tips on accepting who you are and being healthy
Juice Staff Published: 4/5/2019
Just like our bodies, body shaming comes in all shapes and forms.
In the hit movie, “A Star is Born,” the main character, Ally, played by Lady Gaga, was told she couldn’t make it as a singer because of the size of her nose. In her own life, Lady Gaga was given the same message and experienced other body shaming. After negative social media comments about her physique following a Super Bowl halftime performance in 2017, she inspired others by firing back, “I'm proud of my body and you should be proud of yours, too."
The Netflix film, “Dumplin,” tells the story of a plus-size teen who signs up for a pageant in protest of body shaming, even though her former beauty queen mother is the pageant coordinator. She proudly goes on stage with a friend wearing swimsuits with lettering that reads, “Every body is a swimsuit body.”
The Hulu comedy series, “Shrill,” starring Aidy Bryant of Saturday Night Live, also tackles body acceptance and being judged – even at work – because of your appearance.
These movies and shows are helping to break down stereotypes, especially in the age of social media where people routinely post before-and-after plastic surgery photos, along with makeovers.
Body shaming on social media has become an issue for youth and adults, both men and women. The pressure is real to be the “perfect” size.
“It is becoming more pervasive,” said Mary Lou Prendergast, a licensed mental health counselor for Baptist Behavioral Health. “We are drawn to the before-and-after photos and have high standards of what we are supposed to look like. The problem is that most of the time, we are very critical of ourselves and compare ourselves to others.”
“It’s important to accept the fact that people come in all different shapes and sizes,” Prendergast added.
Tips for accepting yourself and staying healthy
- Focus on the positive. Instead of focusing on your weight, focus on your strengths.
- Set realistic goals. Strive for smaller goals that you can reach that are right for you and your body.
- Find fun activities. Instead of walking or running on a treadmill, do something you enjoy, like walking outside in nature or doing Zumba where you are in a group atmosphere. “Yoga is also a wonderful exercise and you are not comparing yourself to others. It’s just you and your mat,” Prendergast said.
- Unfollow people who make you feel inferior. Instead, follow a more diverse group of people with various shapes and sizes.
- Get rid of clothes in your closet that don’t fit. Don’t hold on to jeans you hope you can wear again someday. “Seeing those clothes every morning generates negative thoughts about yourself,” Prendergast said. “Clean out your closet and only have clothes that fit you right now.”
- Buy clothes you like. They make you feel good.
- Eat healthier so you can feel healthier. When you eat healthy foods, your body will stop craving foods that are bad for you.
“My goal is to get people on the right path to eating real, whole foods and staying away from processed junk food,” Prendergast said.
She added, “Eating foods free of sugar, flour and wheat diminishes the cravings that set so many of us up to overeat and binge. Fewer cravings for junk food help us both physically and psychologically. When you start eating healthier, you’ll also see your blood sugar and cholesterol go down.”
At Baptist Health, your mental and emotional health are vital components of your overall health. To learn more about Baptist Health Behavioral services, go to baptistjax.com/doctors/baptist-behavioral-health.
If you need a primary care physician, call 904-202-4YOU or visit baptistjax.com/request.