An article came up in my social media feed this week that halted me in my tracks and filled me with anger. It was about a new device for weight loss. A device that attaches to your teeth and does not allow the person to open their mouth more than 2mm wide. A magnetic device that to me looked like some sort of medieval torture implement. When I read the article about it, it encapsulated everything that is wrong with the diet industry and the world we live in. Let alone the logistics and health risks of such an item (being sick, choking anyone?). Where people are shamed, tortured, made to suffer, starve themselves all in the aid of weight loss. Because overweight people are bad people, and they deserve to ensure something like this (sarcasm).
Well, I’m here to tell you that they don’t. If you, like me are an overweight person, I’m here to tell you that you are worthy whatever dress size you are and whatever the scales say. Actually, throw those scales away they cause nothing but misery. I’ve talked recently about how diets do not work. So I am not going to talk about that today. Instead, I am going to talk about how shame does not work. If people could be shamed into weight loss, we wouldn’t have an obesity epidemic, would we?
Shame, just leads to self-hatred, pain, self-harm, binge eating, lack of self-esteem and misery. It’s not helpful and it needs to stop. Instead, we need to focus on self-love and acceptance. Nobody looks like the people in magazines, not even the people in magazines themselves, they are so airbrushed. Have a look at this video on The Huffington Post and see just how artificial the world we are shown in glossies and even on the big screen are. They are not real reflections of the world we live in, just like characters in our favourite Pixar movies, they are computer-generated.
Real people come in all shapes and sizes. Tall, short, fat, slim and somewhere in between. Different colour hair, eyes, good teeth, bad teeth, good skin, mottled skin. We are all people, we are all real and none of us are perfect. We are all worthy of so many things, our appearance just a mere facet of our overall being.
Move away from the pain and the shame. When we love ourselves we treat ourselves with kindness and respect. We accept that we are who we are and that is not only ok, it’s a gift. Even if we don’t feel it every day.
Shame never leads us down a good path. On an exercise group I am in, an overweight woman was worried about exercising publicly in case of unkind comments about a woman of her size exercising. Shame prevents us from doing the things that are not only good for us, but that will make us healthier too.
To accept ourselves as we are, warts and all allows us the freedom to truly experience life. To jump in the pool with the children, to laugh away in photos with your friends, to wear the clothes we love and do the things that make us happy and healthier in life.
By contrast shame just leads us to destructive and painful behaviours and leaves us more and more detached from the world. Devices that wire our jaws shut can get in the bin, as can fear of exercising, the dread of the unflattering angles in the camera, and not living our lives because of our body size.
Love yourself for who and what you are, be healthy for sure, but don’t shame yourself on how you look. We are who we are and who we are is good enough.
I can’t say I am here myself, but I am very much working on it.