Bear with me a moment.
Think of your brain as a lovely mass of tofu. As I learned from years of vegetarianism, tofu takes on the flavors of the things around it and only really tastes like anything if you soak it in a marinade with some salt, spices, acid, and other strong flavors.
Your thoughts – and particularly the ways in which you speak to yourself – are like that marinade: flavoring your tofu brain with their nuances, their tone, their gentleness, or their aggression.
When you talk shit about your body, you are basically marinating your lovely tofu brain in some crappy-ass marinade that you wouldn’t serve to your worst enemy.
The other day, I was in the fitting room in TJ Maxx (where I spend way too much of my life but that’s not the point here) and I heard one woman talk shit about her butt to her female friend. This did not surprise me, unfortunately, as I understand the role body bashing has come to occupy among establishing and maintaining a sort of bond between women. I had assumed that the shit-talker, like a lot of us, struggled with the fact that she doesn’t fit the ever-narrower definition of female beauty. Until I exited my stall and saw standing there someone who could have been an Olympic beach volleyball player, at least 6′ tall, blond, bronzed. And yet…her butt…
Talking shit about your body doesn’t just marinate your own brain in excrement, it spreads the wealth to everyone within earshot, often strangers on their own path, working their own struggles. Often children figuring out how to be in their bodies in the world. Often people in recovery, fighting that fight every single day, trying to doge exactly that bullet.
There is an alternative to shit talking, however, and it certainly does not require you to love every little thing about your body every single moment of your life: respect, appreciation, and self-compassion.
Respect as in:
“I’m having a rough body image day but I still need to feed my body as I do every single day.”
Appreciation as in:
“My thighs might be jiggly, but they sure do carry my butt all over New York City.”
Self-compassion as in:
“I don’t love my body all the time AND at the same time I’m learning to love every part of myself more and more. It’s a process.”
These are just suggestions and starting points. Do what you will with them as you craft your own.
Meanwhile, quit the shit-talking, beautiful.