Originally published in the RLC Newsletter, July, 2010
Society puts a tremendous amount of pressure on us to look and be a certain way. As a result, many of us can be very unkind to ourselves. We criticize our bodies, call ourselves names, or focus on the many ways in which we’re not good enough. Unfortunately, it’s often considered ‘normal’ for people to talk about hating their bodies or their appearance openly and on a regular basis.
This article is intended as a call to all of us to find ways to be kinder to ourselves individually and as a community.
When we speak unkindly about ourselves, consider these possible effects:
- It Can Make Change Harder: It’s easy to think that being hard on ourselves will lead us to change. However, in reality, being unkind and overly critical is more likely to result in treating ourselves badly than it is to result in making any positive changes.
- We Impact Others’ Views: Each one of us is a role model within our community. Intentionally or not, if we talk badly and overly critically of ourselves, we encourage a culture where others continue to do the same.
- We Indirectly Insult Others: When we insult our bodies, our size, our appearance, or our intelligence, individuals who have similar appearances, sizes, shapes or other related concerns will often hear us as if we are also talking about them. For example, if one person says that their body shape is “wrong” or “bad” in some way, they are essentially (though often unintentionally) implying the same about another person with a similar body type.
- We Make Community Spaces Feel Unsafe: The RLC has a value of creating space that feels safe and accessible for everyone. Welcoming anyone who wants to be a part of the RLC community is one of our priorities. However, talking badly about ourselves, excessively focusing on the importance of losing weight or being a specific size and similar topics can alienate individuals who are the shapes and sizes we are criticizing and can result in individuals feeling unwelcome.
- We Can Promote A Move Away From Wellness: The RLC strives to support individuals to find their own paths to wellness. Many of us come to the community with serious body image, self-esteem, health and food issues. Treating our own bodies unkindly and overly focusing on some of these topics moves us further away from that goal of overall wellness, both as individuals and as a community.
Our hope is that, as a community, we can focus on feeding our bodies in ways that support our feeling good, moving our bodies in ways that support our personal sense of wellness and strength, and finding ways to connect with one another in ways that support all of our individual goals.
We hope you will join us in this aspiration of exploring better ways to hold our values and move toward wellness and wholeness.