Treatment Plan for Negative Body Image Triggers

Hoo!  That was a long-ass title, wasn't it?  I was thinking about this topic today because I accidentally stepped on the scale this morning.  I'm not in the habit of weighing myself, but my scale actually came out of hiding behind the trashcan in the bathroom this morning as I was shuffling some things around, and I decide to hop on for the hell of it.

It goes without saying that this was a bad idea.

The number was at a place I find a little shocking.  I'd expected it to be high, after my week in South Carolina, but I was still a little taken aback.  And even though I consider weight an abstract concept, and that numbers mean very little, it still was kind of a gut punch.

A few weeks ago, the amazing Josey linked to this fantastic article from Beauty Redefined: Not Picture Perfect? Bounce Back from a Body Image Blow.  It's worth reading the whole thing, but if you don't want to do that, no worries - I'm going to break it down for you in a series I'm starting today.

The article deals with body shame resulting from seeing unflattering photos, the same kind of shame I experienced today when looking at the scale.  With pictures, it's even worse because, thanks to social media, everyone can see them.

In a world where girls learn from childhood to monitor their appearance at all times, and where public identities are carefully crafted online at every waking moment, a picture speaks more words than ever.
— Beauty Redefined

I've experienced this shame many times finding unflattering pictures of me that have been tagged on Facebook.  It happened a lot when I played roller derby, because sport photos capture a lot of candid moments  -  I was too busy playing the game to pose.  The most recent example, however, happened when photos of our CrossFit Prom were posted online.

I'd bought this faux satin dress at Community Thrift for like 8 bucks, and I was stoked to wear it.  I'd neglected to realize that shiny fabric looks voluminous under a flash, and that an empire waist can make you look 4 months pregnant without trying too hard.  And when the photos were posted, I was pretty disappointed. 

Here's one of me with my bestie Lacy from Super Strength Health:

BFF 4-EVA!

BFF 4-EVA!

When I saw this, I was immediately thrown down the rabbit hole of chagrin and embarrassment.  How could I have worn that?  Didn't I know ho that made me look?  The dress looks mad bunchy in the back and is kind of wrinkly and ill-fitting. And I look so short and squat.  Ew.

I felt similarly when I got on the scale this morning.  How could I have let it get this bad?

In both cases, I knew better than to get stuck in the shame spiral for long.  I know that my worth as a person and my attractiveness isn't defined by one badly-lit picture.  But how to get out of this horrible head space?

Beauty Redefined thinks that resilience may be the answer:

Resilience theory describes opportunities to call upon resilient traits as “disruptions,” which are experiences that shake us out of our comfort zones and allow us to change in positive or negative ways. Disruptions are occurrences that cause us to feel self-doubt, hurt, fear, or loss. They can be anything from unkind words from a stranger, to a pregnancy, an invitation to go swimming, weight loss/gain, or even the super lame inconvenience of being tagged in a photo you can’t stand. Disruptions are big and small and different for everyone, but the emotions you feel from them lead to opportunities to begin the process of changing.

The trick is to make sure that these changes are positive, and to make sure we utilize resilience to get over these disruptions.

Stay tuned for more on how to do that from my perspective.  There are a lot of tools and tricks we can use to feel better when we have a disruption.

And in the meantime?  This is a shot from the CrossFit Prom that I feel no shame about.

Boom.

Boom.

Step 1: Compassion