Diet Shame: The Truth About the Negative Effects of Body Positivity

Before I begin, let me first say that I am an advocate for the Body Positivity (BP) movement. I believe that it is an essential part of loving who you are and is helping to create great change for so many people who have hated the way they look (as well as for younger generations to come) based on unrealistic societal norms and expectations that have been instilled in us from the diet and beauty industries.

As a result of our polarized society (due largely to social media), I also believe that we have created a space where the other extreme is taking place: shaming people for wanting to lose weight or alter their appearance in any way. As a weight loss coach, I see this with the women that I work with and encounter in my community as well as from the #internettrolls who peruse my business page, ads, and Facebook groups. They criticize me for ‘making women feel like they need to diet’. They say that I should be BP and support women in the journeys to loving themselves instead of making them feel like they have to lose weight.

The truth is, however, that I do support women in loving themselves – in whatever capacity that looks like for them. If that means that they want to get back into their pre-baby jeans, then that’s their prerogative. My goal is to support them in doing that in a HEALTHY and SUSTAINABLE way- to teach them about good nutrition and help them stop the fad dieting. My goal is to show them how to fuel their bodies optimally, not to restrict and deprive themselves. I do this so that they can break old unhealthy habits that aren’t serving them and not only get back into those jeans, but feel revitalized, energetic, and nourished while doing it instead of exhausted, depleted and starved.

This is ironic because as the BP movement grows and influencers and advocates get up on their soap boxes and tell us that ‘self love is essential’ and ‘we don’t need to lose weight to love ourselves’, you begin to notice the hypocrisy of it all. Like most things in social media, this potentially powerful movement loses it’s meaning as people overuse and exploit the phrase simply to build their following and get ‘likes’. After all, how can you promote self love and BP and then go and get botox injections to┬áplump your lips, fill in your fine lines, and essentially change the way you look? Why put extensions in your hair or fake lashes on your lids if you love yourself? Are they not all the same? This then makes you wonder – where does ‘self love’ begin and end in a world where billion dollar industries exist with the sole purpose of making you feel like you’re not enough? And how can you be body positive and promote other practices that change how you look?

So when asked what my opinion of the BP movement is, the truth is that I believe it has some positive elements, but sadly some negative ones as well. The reason: I believe that we can accept our bodies the way they are and still strive for more. I believe that it’s possible to practice self-love and seek self-improvement (however that may look for people). In fact, I believe that both are part of the journey to loving yourself because more than anything:

Your Journey is Yours.

This means that no one has the right to tell you how you should feel about yourself and what that should mean to you if you don’t feel that way. It’s your life and no one has the right to tell you how to live it. This is your journey and you get to design however that looks for you and determine the path that you want to create and to live it in whatever body makes you feel best. So in a nutshell, #fuckshame.

Here is the truth: as someone who has been both 200lbs and 125lbs, I can tell you that the road to self-acceptance is a long a winding one. As someone who has achieved her ‘dream body’, I know all too well that even when you fit into those jeans, can walk around naked confidently, and look forward to bikini season- you will always have to do the work to love and accept yourself, because it never ends.┬áThere will be days when you wake up and simply not like what you see in the mirror and then there will be others where you just want to stand there in awe of yourself. I don’t think that it means that you’re not body positive – I think it means that you’re human.

I believe that there is a bigger question when it comes to weight loss that we need to focus on – where is our desire to change coming from? Is it coming from a place of love, or a place of hate?

In my own personal journey, both love and hate have been motivating factors in my weight loss journey. However, when I began to focus on improving the health and well-being of my body as opposed to getting into a smaller pair of jeans, everything changed. I let go of the belief that I needed to restrict and punish myself. I cared less about the inches lost and how I looked and more about how I felt. I was finally able to stop ‘dieting’ and create a healthy lifestyle that will last for my lifetime.

Believe me, even with that massive mental shift, I still oscillate between love and hate because it is part of the never ending work that is required on the journey to self-acceptance and self-love. As someone who has recently given birth to her second child, I would be lying if I said that I didn’t longingly look at my pre-baby jeans or stare at the excess weight and saggy skin that my postpartum body carries around and want it to be gone. This occurs while simultaneously acknowledging the incredible feats my body has gone through and the beautiful miraculous babies it has given me. Mindsets aren’t mutually exclusive; I live and breathe them every day, and wanting to change doesn’t make me a bad person.

If you’re on a weight loss journey and feel shame about wanting to lose weight, or don’t feel comfortable talking about your goals and dreams for fear of judgement and criticism – don’t. It’s your life and your journey. You can create it and design it however you see fit and NO ONE has the right to tell you otherwise. My only request is that you do it with love and in a healthy sustainable way; that’s the life that I want you to live and maintain – because that’s what I truly believe we should all strive for.

With love and nut butter,

Lindsey Xx

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