I recently put an extremely powerful podcast live (find here) about what it means to be body positive and I would love everyone to listen to it. You see, the words of others can be powerful and sadly, not all words we hear or read are as nurturing as the words I enjoyed with the amazing body positive advocate, Danni Gordon from @chachipowerproject.
For the past couple of years, I have wondered if I can call myself body positive. I always try and be respectful of others, but what about the way I talk to myself? If only we would take the advice we give our friends and not be so hard on ourselves. I try and give my body what it needs – decent sleep, exercise, a bit of pampering, kind words and good food. I try and drink more water, eat more vegetables and enjoy my food without guilt. I strive to find the balance that works for me. I think we know when we are in control and when we get out of a routine which has an impact on our anxiety levels and general wellbeing.
I asked Danni some challenging questions. I feel a sense of urgency with this. How can I ensure Bonnie one day follows pages on social media with empowering words? How can I protect her from celebrities who endorse appetite suppressants? How can I keep my beautiful butterfly from the wasp like comments? The answer is I can’t. I really can’t. Just like I can’t protect her from finding out the tooth fairy isn’t real (she is currently well suss as she found the tooth wrapped in a bag whilst snooping in my jewellery box). Talk about a parent fail.
What I can do is show her that beauty comes in so many different ways. I can teach her that the word “fat” is merely an adjective. The issue is that we have demonised the word fat and made it a frightening word for many. Why should it be? I don’t want ‘fat’ to be a word that Bonnie is afraid of, because I know it’s a word people can use to be nasty. A word she may be called one day. A word we view as an insult, which is responsible for so many eating disorders. Danni has been a great influence in terms of changing my thinking about this word. We all have fat. Some of us more than others, some of us less. So what? We are all different. Why should the word be used to sting people? More importantly, why should we teach our kids to fear it? Does this not create problems?
We are all prone to hearing negative thoughts but we have a choice in terms of what we do with them. Do we let them build? I prefer to try and show them the front door. For the past few years, I have been making an effort to do so because I never take my mental health for granted these days, or the mental health of my kids. Once we learn to turn the dials down on the negative thoughts, they come up less and less. We start focusing on all the good ones. There is an extremely powerful stat in the podcast linked with how parents talk about their weight and bodies and as a result the likelihood of their children having issues with food and eating. Things need to change. We need to wake up.
I always ask my podcast guests what their favourite song is. Danni said “first day of my life” by Bright Eyes. The lyrics are as body positive and beautiful as could be. I think my favourite line has to be: I think I was blind before I met you – now that’s a compliment. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned for my little girl and for my son. It can be toxic on social media, it can be a cruel world out there and people can speak without thinking. We can all speak without thinking. What helps is movements such as The Body Positive one, which fundamentally is about acceptance and appreciation of ALL body types. Danni is a key part of a social movement rooted in the belief that all human beings deserve to have a positive body image. As role models for the next generation, we need to work harder to be accepting of our own bodies as well as the bodies of others.
It doesn’t stop there though. In the book, I talk about my friend Michael Ulloa (tune into our podcast here). One of the things I love about Michael, apart from the fact he is an excellent vlogger and highly knowledgeable PT, is his frank discussions across social media about cleverly marketed weight loss products that do not work long term. They cannot buy the happiness they promote. Diet culture is created to fail. Then we get sucked in and move onto the next fad. But it is deeper than that, diets exist to make us feel inadequate. Happiness doesn’t sell very well, insecurities on the other hand are a breeding ground, encouraging us to buy stuff we don’t really want.
What if we simplified things? If we moved a bit more and ate when we were hungry? What if we enjoyed food and our drinks of choice, but stuck with a routine for the majority of the week? What if we only did exercise we actually enjoyed. Exercise that is proven to help us feel amazing. What if we did it for ourselves first and not because of the expectations of others? What if we took time to remember that we are so much more than just a size. That losing weight is so much less important than losing destructive feelings about our bodies. As Danni reminds us on the podcast, when we feel good about our bodies, we are more likely to take care of them.
Michael is a rebel in the fitness industry and I love it. He is a rebel against capitalism. Capitalism and marketing is not always great for our minds. Don’t buy things you don’t want to fit in. Whatever that means. The world often encourages us to strive for more – to look better, to own more, to use more filters. Do you.
Choose to live. Choose to swim.
Swim through the bull and reach your own waterfall.