What's your body narrative?
Body narrative? Have you heard that before? Maybe, maybe not. This essentially just means the story around your body. What you think about it, feel about it and your overall picture of your body.
This narrative tends to be shaped by a few different parts:
Upbringing: Often as children we are told things about our bodies, hear things about our bodies and hear things about the bodies around us. Even before we realize it we are processing and internalizing these dialogues and shaping what that means for our own personal narrative. Did someone comment about your weight as a kid, did you see a parent dieting or a friend critiquing themselves in the mirror? The things we hear and see as a child or adolescent have a huge impact on the thoughts we carry into adulthood. What about your upbringing has shaped your narrative?
Society/Media: There are no shortage of ads, social media, movies, commercials, and magazines all geared towards making women feel less than. Less than serves their narrative of making you, insecure buyers. The goal is to dangle in front of you just how a simple cream, program or product could finally change your life and make you happy. The disappointing truth is that they usually don't work and create unhealthy and unrealistic ideas about what women are supposed to look like and be like in this world. Movies like Mean Girls normalize the self-hatred women tend to feel towards themselves as they stare in the mirror and pick out things they don't like about themselves. Whether you did this or not, here is a simple example of "ideal" looking women picking apart even the simplest things about themselves and making it seem okay. But in reality, this is NOT okay. This is damaging before we even realize it is. We are not ornaments to be gawked at and critiqued. We are vessels, changing with the season and adapting as life deems necessary. We are mothers, sisters, wives, and friends. We are more than our bodies but ads don't make it really feel that way. How was society or media shaped the narrative around your body?
Relationships: These can be romantic partners or friendships, it doesn't really matter. But often time there are people we are close to that have said things about us or even themselves that have shaped how we also view our bodies. Had a partner slyly comment that if you just lost 10lbs you'd be perfect or a friend says she's on a diet she thinks would be good for you too? These passing comments tend to show insecurities in those individuals more so than ourselves but it can still be very hurtful and painful to hear. How have your relationships shaped the narrative around your body?
Understanding your narrative is crucial when it comes to processing it, letting it go and rewriting it. Before we can truly move forward from a place of peace we need to let go of the chains that have shaped us and held us down for so long. This process will more than likely be painful and uncomfortable. It is never fun to admit the way you truly feel about yourself or the hurtful things others have said or done to shape that. But acknowledging them doesn't give them more power, it actually holds it up to the light giving you the chance to better see it for the lie that it really is. Most of the time this negative narrative is built on lies we've just accepted believing.
No one will love me.
People only like me because I'm pretty.
I will never be as happy as her because she's prettier.
I won't be successful if I don't keep treating my body this way.
These are lies. Lies you've maybe believed for a long time. Lies you've been told as a child. But it is time to hold them up to the light and let them go. I am going to give you a few simple steps for this process. Take your time, revisit it and be kind to yourself. This is a brave step you are taking if you choose to do this. But once you process through this and come out the other side you will hopefully feel a little lighter, a little more hopeful and finally comfortable creating your new narrative on your terms.
Rewriting your narrative:
Write the narrative you have around your body. All the good, bad and in-between. What do you actually think about these things? What have you been told? Once written try to focus on the statements as absolutely true or untrue. It's important to separate fact from learned lies.
Start to identify where these narratives stemmed from. Did they come from your upbringing, society or relationships? Did they come from all of them?
Once you have your old narrative and where they originated from you will know the people in your life who had the biggest impact. It's time to write them a letter. A letter saying all the things you wish you could at the time and that you want to say now. Don't feel like you need to be nice, but do your best not to blame. We are all products of our own narratives and struggles. Blame will fix nothing but you can confront the things they did and said and acknowledge how that made you feel.
Burn them. Burn the old narrative. Burn the letters. (Or at least copies of them if you'd prefer). This simple symbol is your act of letting these things turn to dust, releasing some of those chains and hopefully freeing yourself from those lies of your past.
Rewrite your new narrative! What do you want your narrative to be, what do you feel it is now? Whatever feels right, write it down. Since most of us don't go from hating our bodies for so long to loving it, try to at least write this narrative from a place of neutrality. Take the lies you believed and rephrase them to be positive, truthful and neutral. Most of the time so much of what we believe when we really look at it isn't actually without a doubt true (even if you feel it is). So focus on those truths. You ARE worthy of the space you take up. You ARE working towards loving yourself. You ARE making small chagnes to honor and love your body.
This process might seem silly at first but often it brings out things we didnt even realize were issues. It shines light on things we had forgotten about. Moving forward is a process and in this instnace we must acknowldge why we are where we are, let it go and move on. You are better than the lies of your past. Your new narrative is waiting to be written, so get writting!
PS. Let me know if the comments below if you did this and what you thought!