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    Holidays, Bodies, and Self-Care: Set Boundaries and Live Your Values

    Holidays, Bodies, and Self-Care: Set Boundaries and Live Your Values

    With the holiday season upon us, many people feel a mix of excitement and dread. The reasons for excitement are clear, while the reasons for dread may not be understood by well-meaning families. Folks who live with weight stigma and those who struggle with an eating disorder (of all shapes and sizes) may struggle through family gatherings, in which societally-approved topics of conversation unfortunately often include judgmental commentary on bodies, weight, and dieting. These conversations can be immensely painful and triggering. They can also threaten to undo therapeutic progress around our commitment to being kind and compassionate with ourselves.

    Good news: you can get through the holiday season with your sanity and your sense of self intact! It’s a great time to set boundaries and live your values. Let’s talk first about setting boundaries. Do some thinking before family get-togethers, about lines you simply don’t want to cross, and are willing to defend. Few want to fuel conflict when the whole family is together, nor be disrespectful of elders in the family, but it’s also absolutely appropriate for you to establish some rules of engagement as they pertain to you and your body. Here are some examples of situations that might arise, and how to establish boundaries:


    Uncle Ben says, “You look bigger/smaller than last time I saw you!”


    “Actually, I choose not to make my body size a topic of conversation. How’s your business going?”


    Aunt Angela says, “I’m eating another slice of pie. It has so many calories! I’m probably going to put on five pounds this weekend. Who’s going on a diet with me next week?”


    “I prefer not to talk about calories and weight while enjoying a delicious meal. Let’s talk about what we’re thankful for this year.”


    You’re in a fragile place in your own relationship with body and food, and you’re nervous that the experience of sharing a big holiday meal with the whole family will jeopardize the hard work you’ve been doing.


    Skip the big family gathering. Sure, it would be nice to be able to join everyone and eat without a care in the world, and there might be some eyebrows raised and maybe disappointment expressed in your not joining. But it’s your life. If you’re feeling fragile and aren’t in a place right now to withstand this kind of challenge, sit it out this year. Nourish yourself well that day, spend extra time on compassion, and consider finding a smaller group or one friend to get together with that day. If you so choose, there’s always the next holiday or next year to rejoin everyone.

    The second half of this strategy is living your values. What does that mean? It means knowing what your individual priorities and goals are, and committing to dedicating your time and energies accordingly. No one can dictate to you what your values are. They are unique to you. One of my patients recently told me something so wise. She said that at the beginning of the school year, she almost chose not to try an extracurricular “in service of my anxiety.” However, she pushed through, and it’s become one of the great joys of her daily life.

    When you are deciding how to spend your time over the holidays—whether that’s choosing to go home over school break, attend a family gathering, accommodate the family traditions or make your own new ones—be sure that you choose in line with your values. The patient I mentioned was thinking about skipping out on Thanksgiving activities altogether, because she was so nervous at the prospect of eating the feast in a public setting, with family. However, she realized that if she used binary thinking (either I do Thanksgiving all my family’s way, and that’s not acceptable, or I stay home alone), she would be again doing so in service of her anxiety. Coming back to her values of connectedness, adventure, and independence, she’s chosen to take a road trip with a friend and have a quiet Thanksgiving with her, then see her family the weekend after.

    Check in with your decision-making processes over the holidays: are you holding boundaries? Are you letting fear make your decisions, or are you making choices congruent with your values? Consider this activity: write down your values, and then consult the list when you’re making a decision, to see if the values and the decision align. Here’s a list of values you can look at to help get the wheels turning: http://corevalueslist.com.

    I wish you a joyful, meaningful, mindful holiday season.



     Article by HNS Advisory Board Member: 


    Dr. Jen Gaudiani, MD CEDS













    Join us for a Free Presentation in Whittier, CA!

    Join us for a Free Presentation in Whittier, CA!

    HNS founder Katie H. Willcox will be presenting just outside the heart of Los Angeles at Whittier College on Wednesday, November 16th! The event will take place inside the AJ Villalobos Hall located at 13507 Earlham Drive, Whittier, CA 90602 (map below) from 6:30-8:30pm

    In her presentation, Katie will be discussing how media in the beauty and advertising industry affects our subconscious mind and our self-image. This is an event you won't want to miss!

    Katie's presentation begins at 6:30pm and will be followed by a meet and greet with a chance to shop HNS gear!

    This event is FREE and open to the public, sponsored by the Palmer Society and Violence Intervention and Prevention Club at Whittier College. All are welcomed!


    5 Ways to Ditch Body Shaming

    5 Ways to Ditch Body Shaming

    What can we say? We absolutely live in a culture that is obsessed with extremes – am I smart enough? Am I successful enough? Am I thin enough? Those are just some of thoughts that so many young girls and women struggle with as a result this high pressure culture that acts as a backdrop to everything we think and feel! In fact, an over-focus on body achievement happens from the moment we are born (actually before we are even born!) when the doctor asks – did she walk on time? Talk on time? Read and write on time? And, the list goes on and on. So, this creates a very strong relationship (often on an unconscious level) between body control and a sense of self-worth. When a young girl becomes a teenager that relationship only strengthens and often shifts to having body control through manipulating weight/shape.

    We typically think that manipulating body weight/shape is going to help solve the challenging feelings we may carry toward our bodies and ourselves. Ironically, what many young women do not understand is that this type of highly perfectionistic, extremist thinking instead leads to the exact opposite, namely feeling even a greater sense of being “less than” on the outside, as well as the inside.

    Unfortunately, in the process of blaming our bodies for letting us down and blaming ourselves for not having enough “will power” to change it, we often become stuck in a shame spiral. Frequently, as psychologists and coach trainers, we hear many women reporting ‘guilt’ related to their relationship with food and their body; however, though they think it is ‘guilt’ we hypothesize it is really ‘shame’ they are feeling. The difference initially appears small but it is hugely compelling! Guilt is an external response and is the way we feel when we do something wrong – essentially it is like our moral compass guiding us through life. Therefore, it can be a good thing when we feel guilt toward unhealthy behaviors, such as stealing, cheating, lying, etc. However, shame is very different and is an internal process, with the difference being that we feel we ARE bad because of the thing we have done. Shame is always damaging, never helpful and is the key ingredient in secret-keeping. Additionally, our culture also participates deeply in reinforcing body-shaming with headlines focused on intensely criticizing celebrities for their appearance without makeup, if they show signs of aging and if they fail to have the “perfect bikini body.” Heck, it is not uncommon to have continuing rumor mills of a possible celebrity ‘baby bump’ for what looks to most of us to be a person that probably just had a big lunch or was photographed at an odd angle!

     Even if we understand intellectually that these messages are negative and that we do not want to participate in them, they still affect us on an emotional level sending a constant stream of unattainable “shoulds” that over 80% of women will internalize! That’s the bad news. Now, for the good news – you CAN do something to change this!


    Here are our top 5 ways you can begin to ditch body-shaming and find begin to take steps to an empowered sense of self:

    1. Find things you like about appearance. We often hyper-focus on the things we DON’T like when we look in the mirror and therefore we practice hating ourselves. Instead, we challenge you to find 3 things you like or are neutral and you can begin to like. Practice focusing on only those things when you look in the mirror.
    2. Give yourself positive affirmations: When you look in the mirror and hate what you see, you are likely rehearsing a series of negative self-statements in your mind making those thoughts VERY strong. Instead, practice positive affirmations! These are positive thoughts you find about yourself (e.g., I’m a good friend, I am a really smart person, everyone tells me what a great sense of humor I have, etc). We recommend writing them on sticky notes and placing them on your mirror to remind you of these great things every day! Keep adding to the mirror every time you find a new positive affirmation.
    3. Appreciate what your body can do rather than how much it weighs. Take a moment to truly reflect on how amazing your body is and all of the incredible things it can do for you! Thank your body for the work it does for you every day. We encourage you to write down at least ten amazing things you can do because you have the body you CURRENTLY have – does your body help you in athletics? Running after your kids? Cooking a great dinner? Dancing with your partner? We all should take a moment to appreciate this body and realize we likely would not be able to do all of these things if we lost the 20lbs in a week that diets promise!
    4. Get involved and become empowered! There are many opportunities to get involved these days in the positive body image and body love movement. And, your involvement can truly make a difference! Whether its walking in your local NEDA walk or getting trained in media dissonance training – you can create change in the way future generations of young girls feel about themselves and you can have a fabulous time doing it!
    5. Practice self-care! So often, as young women especially, we fail to care for ourselves and instead take care of everyone else around us. Self-care is so important not only for our mental health but our physical health as well. In fact, some estimates show that up to 90% of doctor visits are related to STRESS! So, don’t be afraid to pamper yourself a bit – take a luxurious warm bath, get a mani/pedi, or hang out with supportive friends who aren’t afraid to compliment your internal/external beauty!
    Finally, body-shaming issues can sometimes be really serious and require more assistance. In fact, that is exactly why the Conscious Coaching Collective (CCC), developed a comprehensive emotional eating program that can assist in overcoming a problematic relationship with food/body. In addition, it may also be time to seek professional help from a therapist or psychologist who can help you further explore and manage these issues if they are taking over your life. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help, as there are a lot of amazing options out there that can lead to a healthier relationship with yourself, reduction of body-shaming, and allow you to take part in life on your terms!


    To learn more about the CCC’s emotional eating program visit FOOD SHIFT.


    Article by HNS Advisory Board Members:

    Ariane Machin, PhD, Co-founder, The Conscious Coaching Collective

    Kelsey M. Latimer, PhD, Co-founder, The Conscious Coaching Collective









    HNS at the Arizona Pinner's Conference

    HNS at the Arizona Pinner's Conference

    Guess what Arizona girl gang?! We are headed your way for a super cool presentation o Friday, October 7th as a part of the two-day Arizona Pinner's Conference in Scottsdale! 

    Get your mood boards ready and join us for an amazing day at the WestWorld of Scottsdale (16601 N. Pima Rd., Scottsdale, AZ). The conference and expo features classes and activities led by top pinners on Pinterest and an exhibition of over 200 businesses that will provide beautiful shopping options in the worlds of DIY, crafts, wedding, baby, cooking, photography, party planning, nails, scrapbooking, holiday decor, clothing, jewelry and more! It's every Pinner's dream!

    Doors open for classes and shopping at 10 a.m. and Katie's presentation will take place at 7:30 p.m. 


    Tickets are available now at AZ.pinnersconference.com/register

    Get 10% off your tickets with code: healthy



    Join us to #StopBodyShame!

    Join us to #StopBodyShame!

    Body shaming isn't something that affects people of one body type; it affects a variety of people across the spectrum.

    In a society consumed by social media, body shaming has become such a prevalent topic. Because social media takes away key interpersonal communication aspects, many people feel that they can say whatever they want without any real repercussion. In addition, body shaming happens in real life as well--like when someone offers an unsolicited negative comment about your appearance.

    Another common misconception is that body shaming is just about bodies. Body shaming is more than about body types and is actually anytime someone takes time to negatively comment on your physical appearance. 

    Below you will read stories by amazing women who aim to change the way we view body image and share their experiences with body shaming. As you will see, it doesn't affect one type of person or body. We've all had our fair share, so let's take the touchy taboo out of the subject and talk about it!



    Model and body image advocate

    You set the tone for how others treat you by the way you treat yourself so its important to understand that there is no other body like the one you have! During my health journey, I received a lot of heat for my weight loss transformation, but have learned to let go of body shaming by no longer giving body shamers my time and energy. 



    Body image advocate and aspiring model

    At eight years old I remember looking at my thighs and wanting them to be smaller. My body image only got worse as I got older. By the time I hit high school, my insecurities kept telling me I was not good enough which caused me to formed horrible eating habits. The more weight I gained, the more food I ate. Instead of trying to work with myself within and become healthier, I found that I was making myself worse and the depression and anxiety I was feeling became too much to bare.

    So I decided to change not only for me, but for my family who became worried about my health. Even though it was a lot of work, I began getting active. I began to love my body for everything it was and what it can do. I was so proud, that I started to pursue modeling. But even when my self-esteem was at its highest, I was body shamed. I once worked with a photographer who made me feel horrible. He told me I didn't look good in any of the outfits, he said that he wouldn't continue to take pictures if they were still "coming out bad". He was making smart remarks of my body and was not shy to remind me that all the models he has worked with were 6 foot tall and size 0. While this experience was upsetting, I was grateful. Grateful that I had the experience because after the struggle and fight to love my body I was not going to let anyone bring me down! Not everyone is going to like the way you look, but you have to love yourself enough to know that no matter what you are beautiful no matter what size you are.


    Body image advocate and model 


    I've experienced body shame throughout my life, regardless of my size or health at the time. I lost about 80 pounds 3 years ago; I'm the healthiest I've ever been- and I still experience it! I've come to realize that people are ALWAYS going to have something to say- especially if they're behind the protection of a phone or computer monitor. I don't let it bother me anymore because the people that actually take the time to write or say hurtful things are dealing with issues of their own.


    RN, fitness enthusiast, and body image advocate

    On a large platform such as Instagram, I've heard it all. This is my advice to all of you that are being shamed for embracing your body: you give people the power to hurt you. If you simply choose not to give them that power, nothing they say can touch you. You become impervious to their insults. On a platform where anyone can say anything anonymously, you can't stop "negativity". People say "rise above it" "ignore them!" I don't think that's right, either. I believe in standing up for what I believe is right. Even if it may lead to conflict. I don't like to give people a free pass. Do whatever makes you feel better at the end of the day. If ignoring and blocking gives you peace, do that. Just know that no matter how much you change your body there will always be someone to criticize it. You have more to offer this world than a "perfect" body. I may have fat, cellulite, and scars. But I literally save lives for a living. My life's purpose isn't dependent on having a great body, a huge social media following, or likes on a picture. Confidence is sexy. Intelligence is beautiful. Contribute something worthwhile to the world. Your self worth will blossom. Know that your value and your beauty can't be diminished by someone's words.


    Author, body image advocate, and ED survivor

    I dealt with a lot of body shame early on in my life in elementary and middle school because of my acne, athletic body, and because I matured much earlier than my peers. This then led me to develop a severe eating disorder, which took on the forms of anorexia, exercise addiction, binge eating disorder and bulimia. I battled with my body for more than a decade before recovering and finding balance. Through my drastic weight fluctuations, I did experience some body shame, but where I suffered the most was the shame I turned on myself. Because of my childhood experiences and because of my low self-esteem and never feeling good enough - I had my eating disorder and a constant voice in my head abusing me 24/7, screaming at me that my body was always the problem no matter what weight I was at and this almost cost me my life on many occasions. 

    It was in my healing that I realized it was never my body that was the problem at all. In fact, it was never ME that was a problem either. Once I realized that I had the power to change my thoughts, to forgive myself, to love myself, and to be ME – exactly as I am – is when I became free and stopped hating myself. So often we think of body shaming as coming from others, but we forget that the cruelest source can come from ourselves. You have something unique to offer in this world and you should never try to change yourself for the wrong reasons.


    Illustrator and Body Image Activist 

    I never was, and never will be a skinny girl, it is just the way I am built. I felt so bad about it a for long time, which caused me to stop loving myself. In turn, I didn't allow anyone else to love me. But something changed.

    I grew tired of body shaming myself and putting myself down and so began the long and difficult journey of self acceptance. It took a lot of selfies, compliments and looks in the mirror. I was slowly starting to find myself behind those blue eyes, blond hair and freckles. 

    Through this journey I also learned to take care of my body again. Something I had never actually done, because how can you take care of something that you hate? 

    Beautiful dresses, conditioner, some make-up now and than, sport shoes and a gym membership. I love exercise, I always had and began testing my limits, working up a sweat. I began to feel satisfied.

    I just didn’t want to be that fat girl in the gym that HAD to work out. Getting those funny looks. Hearing whispers: "Oh yeah, keep on going… you need it!” and “look at that big ugly whale!" So i didn't dare to go.

    Now I am not there to lose weight and feel "beautiful." I am there because I like exercise and want to be healthy. 

    I never was and never will be a skinny girl, and I am okay with that.


    Model and body image advocate

    When I was 16 years old I made the jump from straight sized modeling to curvy and an article was published about me to publicly shame my transformation At the time this article was written, I was still in a very dark place. I didn’t see myself a model. I was unable to accept that my body was not stick thin. The man who wrote this compared my anorexic body, to my naturally curvy body. He called me a ‘chubby blogger’ and said I looked too fat in my new curvy photos. But he also said my head was too big for my frail unhealthy body. An adult male ripped apart a fragile teenager in recovery. I was absolutely devastated when I first read this (easily found by googling my name). Looking back on this situation, I’m glad it happened. It was a huge learning lesson for me. His blog post shows that no matter what size you are, someone will try to tare you down. You just have to be the best version of yourself and f**k everyone else.


    Olympic weight lifter and model

    It's hard when you think about it to go back to the first time you were body shamed. To the first time someone brought it to your attention that there was something "wrong" with your body. For most women this is a continuous taunting that there is indeed something wrong with our bodies and in turn tells us we are not enough. The one thing you need to know is you are perfect just as you are. You are not what other people project onto you. Our focus should be more on our emotional and physical health rather than pleasing those around us. Think of all the things you could accomplish if you let those body shaming thoughts fall off your shoulders? You would go join that workout class, wear that cute dress or whatever you’re holding yourself back from thinking that your body is not capable of. I never thought I could do any type of athletic sport because of my body shaming experiences but look at me now. Fight on lovelies!


    Writer and designer


    In college I started getting harassed and bullied because of my body. I am a 6'9" girl and I was an emotional eater, a fact I couldn't hide. All the time people would laugh at me and shout horrible insults. I developed severe anxiety and agoraphobia.

    After 6 months of using this coping tool, I was at the supermarket and I saw a young man with that telltale uncomfortable grin side-eyeing his friends, preparing to make fun of me. So I smiled super huge and said, "Hi!" loudly. He screamed and then shouted, "Godzilla!!!" He and his friends ran out laughing maniacally. My heart dropped into my shoes and shame stained my cheeks.

    Then, a new feeling arose like a flame from the embers burning in the pit of my stomach. I was so tired of using so much energy to be nice to people who seemed to hate me. I was sick of the constant nerve frying anxiety too. I wanted to punch people who looked at me wrong. I wanted to smash their expensive phones when they took pictures of me like an animal in the zoo. I didn't smile, I screamed at them. I terrified people. No one was the better for it. They didn't learn to rejoice in people's differences rather than make fun of them. Instead they learned to be afraid of my uniqueness.

    Now, after many years of painful, often sexist & body shaming public encounters, I know that it makes a difference how I act and how I react. First, how I carry myself informs the type of responses I get. If I feel good about myself, others tend to reflect that. But I'll always get the rude stuff, and it may not be "fair" that I have to offer my time to people who mistreat me in order to expand their minds. Its definitely not fair to be loving to people who are nasty to me. But I believe it is right.

    I aim to stand tall and brave, and never shrink or get upset. To be gracious and calm in the face of every type of reaction to my body. Do I succeed in this all the time? Hell no. Sometimes I still threaten people if they happen to be the 7th person to insult or harass me that day. I do my best though. And by being level-headed, warm, intelligent, and well-spoken *I actually affect how they will treat other people from that day forward.* Which is completely amazing!!!


    Body image advocate and winner of ABC's "My Diet is Better Than Yours"

    I had my daughter in 2007 and could never lose the baby weight. At my heaviest I weighed 234 pounds. I hated the person I had become. I was embarrassed to leave my house and never wanted my picture taken. I broke my leg 2 years ago and my doctor told me I would never be able to run because I was "plus size." Everyone would say, "You would be so pretty if you lost weight". This would make me feel even worse. I tried so many diets, but could never get the weight off. In 2015 I was contacted by producers to be on ABC's reality show, "My Diet is Better Than Yours". I was reluctant at first because I didn't want to put myself out there, but decided to go for it. I picked the Superfood Swap Diet written by Dawn Jackson Blatner. This diet was incredible. It was perfect for me. The show lasted 14 weeks. At the end of this time, I ran a 1/2 marathon and won the show by losing 53 pounds and 10 inches from my waist. I was so very proud of myself. I thought that my life was going to completely change. All of the people that called me fat wouldn't be able to talk about me anymore. Boy, was I wrong. People liked to post mean things on the internet. They would say things like, "She shouldn't have won", "She still has weight to lose", "She doesn't look any different", "I hope she is still on her diet". The old me would have been devastated by these comments. The new me has a new sense of self-worth. I know these opinions do not define me and all of the hard work I put into becoming a better me. I know I am more than what people see on the outside. I am still on my journey to get healthy, but I am definitely healthier now that I was at this time last year. I just take it a day at a time and enjoy the process along the way. 


    Student, photographer, and advocate for muscular dystrophy awareness

    Nowadays, I am super aware that people can judge you for looking a certain way and that they don't consider the reasons for why you look like you do. My spine is severely distorted due to scoliosis. Because of this this I can look 'larger' in clothes because my spine pushes my ribs forward. It also means that I 'waddle' when I walk. Unfortunately because of my appearance, people make negative assumptions about my body and my health. I find it so hard to be tough and  not let what other people's assumptions affect me - that's why I believe in speaking out & bringing awareness to my 'invisible disability' because if people know why my body is how it is, then maybe they can learn to accept not only mine but also the bodies of other people who have incurable and life-altering health conditions. Body shaming needs to stop. It so damaging, yet so simple to avoid!


    Author, blogger, and yoga junkie


    When I lived in New York, I dated a guy pretty briefly at the same time that my eating disorder (orthorexia) was getting very serious. I was a plant-based vegan, was subsisting on 30-day juice cleanses, and wouldn’t even eat most types of fruit because of the fear I’d developed about natural sugars.

    One day out of nowhere he told me that for how healthy I ate, it was shocking to him that I wasn’t skinnier. He had seen a story about me on the Internet about my losing weight as a vegan, and the story had a before and after picture. He even went so far as to say,  “Wow, you never told me that you used to be overweight. I thought you said you were always into health.”

    My silent response was… Excuse me? I was never overweight. That was my healthy body weight before I started being highly restrictive and this is what I look like as a plant-based raw vegan who does not eat enough. Who are you to say that I was overweight then, and that I am not small enough for your liking now?

    His words sent me into a downward spiral of wanting and trying to be even thinner than I already was, although for my frame I knew I was already too small.

    Now, I look back on that whole experience and am grateful for a few things. For one, I am so glad that he and I broke up shortly thereafter. He clearly did not understand me or support my health and happiness. Secondly, he taught me that someone else’s words and opinions when it comes to my health are often so far off base… They don’t know what it feels like to be in my body, and I don’t need to base my own body image perception off of what anyone else says or thinks.

    Lastly — I am so happy in my skin now. I am strong. I treat my body with kindness. My body is my vessel for all that I do that I LOVE and am so happy doing. It has carried me through a full marathon, through thousands of yoga classes, through epicly long walks on the beach with my favorite humans. It loves me back no matter how much I have put it through. 


    Advocate for PCOS awareness and self love enthusiast 


    For years I was a prisoner of my body and my beliefs towards it. A body shaming incident that really triggered me was sometime between 4th & 5th grade when a boy on the playground told me I had big legs. That event alone solidified the idea that I had to lose weight. 

    From that moment on I obsessed over being skinny. I dieted and the weight would come off only to later regain it. I remember once going over to a relatives  house, and as soon as I walked in the door she said "you're obviously not on a diet anymore". I felt ashamed and embarrassed because how could I still be "fat" after trying so hard to be skinny? People always made comments about my weight and even though I acted like it was nothing, it ate me up inside. I have missed out on so many things in life all because I never felt my body was worthy of experiencing anything until I had reached my goal weight. It was later on that I learned I had PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). One of the symptoms of PCOS weight gain & struggling to lose weight. After all these years of feeling ashamed for always being on a diet and looking the same, I finally had an answer. People are quick to judge and assume, but one should never jump to conclusions regarding someone else, especially regarding their bodies. Focus on your health and living a happy, balanced life. 


    Fitness expert and YouTube Star

    "You look like a skeleton"

    "Look in the mirror, you look scary"

    "Go eat a cheeseburger."

    "Do you even eat?"

    "You look anorexic."

    Speaking as somebody who has lived with these comments publicly, even lost jobs over it, hearing these comments is just as hurtful and just as damaging. Watch my personal  Why Are You So Skinny? interview.

    Here's the thing: healthy looks different on everyone. No one has the authority to diagnose or determine health based on looks.Let's remember that the purpose of the body positive movement is to make every person feel comfortable in their skin regardless of their body size. This isn't a polarized issue between shaming "fat" and "skinny". It's not okay to objectify and dehumanize anyone simply because of their size or appearance. It's simple, just don't do it. Don't engage in it.

    Join Katie, Healthy is the New Skinny and I, in the beginning of a new and wonderful movement! #stopbodyshame



    Crossfitter, blogger and body image advocate

    Growing up I was bullied about my body and my weight. I was called "lard-ass" and was made fun of about how much food I was eating. I hated my body and  and in turn led me to having an eating disorder and extremely low self-esteem. I struggled for years with my weight and tried every diet and diet pill. It took me years to unlearn everything I thought about myself and slowly learn to love my body again. I'm finally at a place where I'm healthy and happy with who I am and love my body. But sadly, the body shaming has not stopped. The more followers I seemed to get on my Instagram, the more negative comments and nasty internet trolls there were. At first the comments really hit me hard. But I've surrounded myself with such positivity and have educated myself about body-image and have gotten to a place that I know people's thoughts about my body have nothing to do with me, and everything with them. Everyone needs to start standing up against body shaming. Your body shape or weight should never be someone else's topic of discussion. It's your body and you should be able to enjoy it without fear of others judging it! 


    Body positive warrior, self love enthusiast, and ED Survivor 


    For me, the kind of body shaming I’ve experienced has been mostly accusations of attention-seeking. People assume that because I’m not as curvy as the majority of the BoPo community, that I don’t struggle with my body, or that I’m just fishing for compliments. I’ve been called fake; I’ve been told that because of the way I look, the work that I do undermines the real mission of body positivity; I’ve been accused of accepting promotions and sponsorship (I don’t) and benefiting financially from the plus-size community’s hardship - that one hurt me the most, actually.

    But I always have to remember: the people who comment with negativity and hatred are struggling. Everyone’s experiences are different, and whatever it was that led up to that person making a hurtful comment on my photo is not my place to judge. 


    Body image advocate and blogger

    One of my greatest concerns when it comes to my project @powertoprevail is the comment section. Not because I am afraid of them BUT I worry about my followers reading the comments and saying “SEE! That’s why I HATE my body!” or internalizing the comments because they relate to my image and words but see something contradictory in the comments. So I have made it a point to respond to any and all shaming in my own way. Yes, I can delete the comment as though it never existed but I want to make sure that I take the power of shame on and prove what The Force is stronger.

    What does Star Wars have to do with body shaming? A while ago I wanted to help others understand why I am not afraid of putting my pictures up on the internet or the body shaming comments that comes with them. The first thing that popped into my head was a montage of scenes of Emperor Palpatine (really bad guy) and the lines he used to manipulate Anakin (Darth Vader) and Luke. When you’re watching the films you can clearly see his intent is to use fear/hate to control those he knows are more powerful than him. He gets to know their deepest fears and exploits them shamelessly. He knows that if he can control them then he stays in control. So folks on the internet who do not know or will ever meet me assume I am afraid of being called fat, ugly, disgusting, or rude for showing my body in public (all of which has happened) and wait eagerly for me to become upset or angry, but I don't. I simply respond with Star Wars references. 

    Speak the truth I do. May the force be with you.


    Model and body image advocate

     I've been all across the board with weight I've been unhealthy at 250 and unhealthy at close to 150. It wasn't until I found balance through a healthy lifestyle of not being extreme on either side of the spectrum that I can now say I'm happy and healthy. I've had people make negative comments in regards to my weight and my body all all stages but the important thing I remember is someone else's opinion of my body doesn't depict my self worth or value. People will always having something to but remember "your body your choice no one else has a say over you and your body, so let the hater hate. 


    Blogger, ED survivor, and activist

    I've had acne for as long as I can remember. While I got a lot of my mom's wonderful qualities, I also inherited her skin.

    My mother didn't want me living through the same bullying hell that she had gone through as a teenager, but by trying to ensure that I avoided her same fate, she monitored my skin extremely closely at home, which created a hyper-awareness about my looks that I've been unable to fully shake since elementary school. I still remember my first boyfriend dumping me in 7th grade because I had bad skin.

    Before my site, Do The Hotpants, became a body positive hub, it was a simple fashion blog. But during those first few years of blogging, I was so terrified to show the "real me,” that I used Photoshop to hide every zit, line, and wrinkle.

    While therapy and self-work has helped me get to a better place of self-love over the years, and I’ve since stopped using Photoshop on Do The Hotpants. Not only did my mom's body shaming experiences emotionally scar my her, it ensured that her insecurities and shame were passed down to me, permanently altering the way I viewed myself and my value in this world. 

    Always remember: If it's not your body, it's not yours to comment on. Because even when we think we are helping, we might be actually be hurting.


    Model and body image advocate

    My experience with body shaming started at a very young age.  I was always bigger than my girl friends growing up, yet always seemed to be on a “diet” and eating less than them.  It was very hard seeing this and trying to understand why I wasn’t built the way they were. I was teased until about 10th grade, but more recently with social media People love saying rude comments because they don’t have to say it to your face. Some people aren't aware, but I've gone through quite a health transformation, so when I see comments of people calling me fat on my images, they have no clue that I'm healthier than I once was! Thankfully I’m a confident woman now and these comments don’t affect me.  I know my worth and will never let anyone attempt to make me feel bad about myself.


    Fitness enthusiast and blogger

    I've always been a confident person; however, growing up, my family was uncomfortable with me being overweight. Every time I ate a snack or went for seconds at dinner, I was told I was fat and didn’t need whatever it was that I wanted.  After hearing that enough times I would get frustrated and upset. My mom would give in and let me eat snack or have seconds, but then my sister would call me names, like “cow,” “beast,” and “fatass.” It hurt growing up having to hear those words, because my body never bothered me. I would cry in my room, write in my diary that I wished I could stop being so hungry all the time and then brush it off and keep going. While it came from a place of love, it was still hurtful. As I got older, I learned that these words, were just that. Words. Yes, very hurtful ones, but they eventually stopped bothering me. I told myself that I was enough. I might have been a chubby kid, but I didn’t care, I loved myself anyways. Just remember people will say things about other’s bodies out of love and hate and no matter what it’s important to keep what you think of yourself in the forefront of your mind. When you love yourself and your body, no one can bring you down, no matter how hard they try! 


    Model and body image advocate

    What kills me the most about body shaming is that I was incredibly fit and healthy when it started for me. I played soccer 5 days a week and ate a moderately healthy diet but I had big, strong and muscular legs. Because people shamed me for my strength and the size of my legs, I became self-conscious and was looking for any possible way to become thiner. It was at this point that I resorted to unhealthy measures to try and make my body something that it wasn’t naturally built for. I snuck diet pills, I closet ate, I tried starving myself and the list just goes on and on, I tried everything. Nothing was ever good enough and nothing lasted long term. My weight constantly fluctuated but my self-esteem stayed at a constant low. After adjusting my own mindset I was able to put my health first and I’m finally confident enough to know that my body is strong and healthy just the way it is no matter how other people see it. I stay very active and I eat well but most of all, I feel good. 


    Public speaker and advocate for Alopecia awareness

    I have had countless experiences with body shaming... It comes with the territory of being a bald woman. Being bald is associated with weakness or sickness- and often times I am categorized accordingly. People assume something is "wrong" and treat me as such. 
    One particular time happened not so long ago, when I was finishing up washing my hands in the women's restroom when a woman asked me to leave. Her comment was, "Excuse me sir, this is a women's restroom!"
    As I slowly turned around to correct her statement using some choice words, you could read her every emotion: 
    First, anger and frustration. Then slowly confusion, guilt, and finally embarrassment. 
    It's funny how people react when they're placed in a situation such as mine, but when she accused me of being a male using the wrong restroom- she gave me the opportunity to educate her on awareness for hair loss in women. No one should feel less feminine because they don't have hair! 


    Dietician and media personality

    When I was curvier, people used to tell me "You'd be so much prettier if you lost some weight"! When I lost 25kg after recovering from binge eating disorder, the same people complained that I looked too skinny. I learned that you can't wait for someone else to approve of your body before you accept your own beauty. If you do, you'll be waiting forever. People who are insecure about their own body are the first to judge other people's weight. It's their body issue to deal with - not yours! I no longer wait for someone else to tell me I am beautiful or the 'correct' weight. I have become so comfortable in my body, my curves, my rolls, my imperfections and my innate beauty. My weight no longer defines who I am or dictates if I am beautiful enough. I know I will never be a supermodel but I'm vibrant and healthy and confident af, and I think there is something truly beautiful about that! 


    Model and body image advocate

    I am so excited about the #stopbodyshame movement ! Working in the industry has really thickened my skin just based on the body shaming alone. When posting a photo of yourself on your social media, or when clients post photos of you - it opens a door for very insecure people to share their negative opinions. I have had countless negative comments about my weight, health, hair, face ..onetime someone even took a jab at my kneecaps. It used to really affect me in the early stages of my career, I used to be scared to post photos even if it was for work. It took a while, but I then realized that I have nothing to be ashamed of--the people doing the body shaming are the ones that are insecure and have the issues that stem from deep inside.
    We all need to come together and stop body shame together!


    Body image advocate on health journey

    I was a teenager in the late 80s/early 90s, so plus size "fashion" did not exist. The "plus size section" was usually one circular rack in the middle of the women's section at Kohl's, Target, Sears, Kmart, etc. I basically had those racks to choose from, or sometimes I shopped in the men's section because those clothes ran bigger. One day when I was in high school, I was wearing a bright orange shirt tucked into a pair of jeans. I walked into the lunchroom and grabbed my tray as I looked for  my friends, I walked past a table of football players. One of them got everyone's attention and started singing super loudly , "Here COMES THE SUN, little darling" because I was "big" and was wearing an orange shirt. Everyone who heard him started laughing and I was so embarrassed. It hurt at the time, but it's sort of interesting to look back on now...since my nickname is Sunshine. I didn't have a voice then, but I certainly do now. I want all of us who are in a role to influence the younger generation to take a stand, and stop the body shaming cycle. The things that happened to us growing up that made us feel badly about our bodies were awful - but let's turn it into a positive. Talk to the girls that you have in your lives. Even talk to the dads and brothers about the fact that jokes about someone's body can last a lifetime, even if they're only teasing. Quit talking negatively about your body in front of these impressionable kids. They see someone they look up to unhappy with their body, and it just passes on the cycle of poor relationships with their bodies . Maybe for life.


    Fitness enthusiast on health journey

    I feel as though body shaming has been a part of my everyday life ever since I could remember. Of course there are the days when I’m feeling fab and I think no one can touch me but those days are sometimes few and far between. I constantly have to jerk myself out of that body shaming mindset because, let’s be real, we do it to ourselves way more than other people do it to us. I’ve experienced body shaming while at the gym, while hanging out with friends, and when I’m alone. The thing about it is, society thinks body shaming is completely normal and we’ve been brainwashed to think the same. I think it when I’m at a restaurant “Better get the salad, don’t want anyone commenting on my food choice not being a healthy one,” or shopping for clothes, “I can’t wear that, people will think I’m trying too hard because I’m a big girl.” It’s everywhere, you see it on the covers of magazines or on the sides of buses, “How to get rid of that unwanted belly fat?” or “The trimmer, fitter, better you in 10 days!” It’s crazy how it’s so normal for you to think you aren’t good enough for societies standards just because your body is different. What I find myself doing the most is comparing myself to others and when I do, it only makes my life harder. I try and overcome my own body shaming days by focusing on my accomplishments. I focus on how successful I am at my workplace, my education, how kind I am to my friends and family or even how far I’ve progressed with my health and fitness journey. Everyone is entitled to a bad day but in order to fix it you must fix your mentality. I’ve learned to focus on me and my life because it’s the only one I’ve got and I want to make sure I make the most of it!

    We want to hear your stories! Share your body shaming story by tagging @healthyisthenewskinny and #StopBodyShame!