Coming out of lockdown, anxiety is showing up for people in different ways. The one that saddens me the most is body anxiety among females, fuelled by a feeling that we’ve been seeking pleasure from food perhaps more than we ‘should’ have been at a time when we have been stripped of many other pleasures.
I’ve caught myself wondering if people will notice that I’ve gained a few pounds, I’m hearing friends talking about it and I’m seeing it almost everywhere I look on social media.
We’ve been sold a story for so long that our size, shape and appearance are indicative of our health, intelligence, and value in life, that appearance surveillance among women is so ingrained it can often be unconscious. And now, as our lives open up again following lockdown, many of us are feeling vulnerable and in fear of judgement.
If this rings true for you I’d like to offer you these thoughts:
You deserve to feel comfortable in your own skin. Your worth, relationships and human experience amount to so much more than your appearance.
In the absence of any real change emerging in popular culture, the change needs to start with us. Re-training our minds to be more self-compassionate and to work on the internalisation of these societal norms that are so damaging, begins with monitoring our thoughts and behaviour.
Pay attention to your self-talk when you are likely to be examining your body; showering, getting dressed or looking in the mirror.
Consciously monitor your mind to avoid the internal dialogue that compares your body to others or scrutinises other people’s form.
Give yourself a break, be kind and make the effort to re-train your brain to appreciate your body for the amazing creation that it is and the functions that it performs, rather than how it looks.
The only way to push back on societal pressures to look a certain way is to change the narrative within. It’s no easy feat in the face of all the stories we are bombarded with through the media every day. But if we choose not to consume those stories and start to ignore the hype, then maybe the stories will start to change. We must be the change we want to see.