© Elizabeth Patch illustration

Food for Thought, © Elizabeth Patch, all rights reserved.

Go ahead. Get it all out of your system.
Complain about your body.
Whine about how ugly you are.
Go on and on about how much you hate yourself.

I hate my butt! My legs are too fat!
Everything about me is too fat!
I hate my hair! My boobs are too small!
Look at that wrinkle! My nose is too big!
My skin is such a mess!
I wish I looked like her!
I suck! Why can’t I be perfect?
Its not fair!

Do you feel better now?
Be honest.

Did all that whining and complaining fix anything?
Be honest.

Do you think your friends, family, lover, mother,
sisters, co-workers or anyone else like listening to your complaints?
( Do you like listening to their complaints? )
Be honest.

I’ll be honest with you.
I still catch myself doing this same sad, boring, predictable whining.
Sometimes I just think it,
sometimes I annoy my husband or my friends with it.
But I never feel better about anything after complaining about myself.
I never feel inspired to make positive changes, or feel happier with who I am.
In fact, it leaves me feeling exhausted and depressed.

So why do I slip into this terrible old habit that’s so hard to break?

Let’s face facts: Our culture is toxic to women’s self-esteem.
Every single day
we face an onslaught of negative messages about our bodies not being thin enough,
pretty enough, young enough, smooth enough, stylish enough, sexy enough, fit enough, etc., etc.
Even if we try to ignore it,
even if we understand how false it is,
how harmful it is,
how manipulative it is,
it’s always in the background, leaving an impression…

And in a moment of stress or fatigue or doubt or fear or nervousness or rejection or pain,
when someone pushes one of my many buttons,
when I am attacked in some way,
or something triggers a negative emotional reaction…
Poor, poor me and all those who have to listen to my complaints!

But just because there is a larger cultural reason for this behavior,
just because there is a personal trigger and an ingrained habit,
it doesn’t mean I can’t fight back.
It doesn’t mean you can’t fight back!

The most immediate way to fight back is both very simple and very hard:
Stop complaining about your body.
As soon as you notice yourself doing it, just stop.
Just. Stop.

If there is something that can’t be changed about your body,
stop complaining about it, even if you have to stop mid-sentence!

If there is something you can do to improve your physical self,
stop complaining and take steps to fix it:
get a new haircut, start taking walks, update your makeup, eat more vegetables, get more sleep, whatever.

Just stop complaining.

When you stop complaining about your body
(even when you just reduce complaining about your body),
you give yourself permission to live in this world without apologizing for what you look like.
You give yourself permission to be an amazing, confident, beautiful woman,”imperfections” and all.

This simple, difficult, radical act of not complaining about your body
can ripple out to those who share your world,
especially to girls, who may not even realize that there is another kind of body image,
one that is positive, proud and joyful,
instead of negative, shameful and sad.

When you stop complaining about your body,
you help change the way we all see ourselves.

Now give yourself a compliment, and stop complaining about your _________!

and here’s some more Food for Thought