I recently got sent this question on my Tumblr page, and wanted to share my response here too:
"Do you have any tips on how to get over or at least minimise low body self esteem? I think you talked a bit about this in an earlier ask of mine but I still often feel bad about my body, when I eat things like doughnuts, like my workout is not effective etc"
Yes! Buckle up my friend because I have a lot to say on this topic…
Body love is a journey, so keep in mind that it’s something you’ll continue working on for most of your life. And 99.9% of the media out there (ads, movies, tv shows, etc) is designed to make you feel insecure, because insecure people spend more money than confident people. So loving your body means constantly fighting against the barrage of messages we get every day telling us to feel ashamed of our bodies. Old racist misogynist billionaire business owners are making money off of your insecurities. All the bullshit ads selling weight loss garbage are designed in boardrooms full of greedy men in suits so that they, and the greedy men who pay their salaries, can take more money from women. So if you’re a feminist like me, remember that every time you think a negative thought about your body the Tr*mps of the world are winning.
Also, I love the above gif for a billionty reasons - remember when you were a little girl playing dress-up and you just knew you looked amazing? You didn’t have time to hate your reflection, you had a kingdom to rule and sandcastles to build and dragons to befriend? Imagine what we could accomplish as adults if we all felt that way now…
Also, it’s no secret that insecurities drive people to compare themselves against other people instead of connecting. So hating your body is leading you to subconsciously view other women as rivals. As if you’re competing against them for male attention.
So yeah, there’s a ton of bullshit to unlearn on the journey to self-love. But first of all, remember that there was a time you loved your body. You knew you were made of magic. And that part of you hasn’t gone away, it just got buried under piles of sexist messaging that you believed because everyone else believed it too. But you can choose to reject it. You can choose to unlearn all that shit and reconnect with the part of you that loves who you are and what you look like. And I’ve found the best way to do that is to barrage yourself with images of your own choosing (and coincidentally this involves connecting with and supporting other women…) The aforementioned evil businessmen of the world know that repeated messaging deeply affects people’s perceptions, so use those methods to your own advantage. Don’t buy photoshopped body-shaming magazines. Follow body-positive fashion blogs instead. Avoid tv shows that pit women against each other (the bachelor, america’s next top model, etc) and watch shows that have racially and physically diverse casts (Claws is my top favorite right now, which is also where I got the above Niecy Nash gifs from, just sayin…). Follow plus-size models and body-positive advocates on social media. Actively reject messages from bigoted sexist white men and instead give your money, time, and attention to body-positive female creators.
Now on to the second part of your question, regarding doughnuts negating your work in the gym. Working out benefits your body and brain in ways that cannot be negated by a simple pastry. I’m going to encourage you to appreciate food for how it makes you feel instead of where it ranks on society’s “good/bad” food spectrum… Try to tune into your body after you eat different foods. Don’t judge the food, just feel what your body feels like after you eat it. Do a little body scan, checking in with each part of your body from your head to your toes… And then eat more of the foods that make you feel energized and happy and less of the foods that make you feel tired or stomachache-y. As someone who struggled with eating disorders for years, this approach has been invaluable to me. Sure at first I ate pretty much exclusively grilled cheese sandwiches... But after about a week my body started craving vegetables. Salads gave me energy. So did nachos. And parfaits. And veggie stews. Foods that are pretty processed make me feel tired so I don’t feel like them that often. But when I do want them, I have them and enjoy them. They’re not “off-limits”. Nothing is forbidden. Vibrantly colorful nutritious foods make me feel good, so I eat them a lot. I also treat myself with foods that feel like treats to my body, instead of randomly obsessing over (and then automatically craving) a multitude of “forbidden” foods just because they’re labeled “forbidden”. I eat as much as my body wants, which ends up being a pretty balanced amount of everything because without the anxiety of “should”s and “shouldn’t”s the body is really smart at figuring out how much of which foods it needs. I don’t count anything. I don’t shame myself for eating anything, and I don’t follow any diet. I just follow my body’s instincts. And it feels amazing to eat without shame.
So, in conclusion, remember that you’re a gorgeous incredible lovely magical person capable of so much amazing stuff and you and your body deserve all the love in the world