As most of you will be aware, we are running a month long campaign encouraging women to free their arms and legs from long sleeves and leggings, shake off the fear of being judged and enjoy their bodies. You can check out the stories that are being shared across the This Mum Runs social channels using the tags #FreeYourArms #FreeYourLegs
As part of the campaign we asked Body Image Guru, and Global Body Image Movement Ambassador, Lisa Beasley to tell us what she thinks holds women back when it comes to body confidence. Here’s what she said.
If there’s one thing I know about, it’s the feeling of body shame. And I don’t mean comments from other people, I mean the shame we feel about certain aspects of our own bodies.
The shame that makes you cover up your arms because you can’t bear to show them to the outside world. We might run in the dark because we feel self-conscious about our size….
Or, always run in long sleeves even when it’s really hot outside. I used to do that.
We cover up, don’t do things, refuse opportunities for fun because we think what we have isn’t good enough.
I asked this question on my Facebook Page My Body Positive and got some amazing, thoughtful answers. Yes, it’s partly about societal norms. Our society values youth and slender bodies and these beliefs drive the diet industry (and the cosmetic/cosmetic surgery) industry. We rarely see other body sizes in popular media, so we are conditioned to think our arms/size/age/skin is ‘wrong’.
These feelings stop you fully engaging in life.
Because that is what happens when you feel shame about your body. Why do I think it’s important we change this?
Because, once you see past all the BS and understand the reasons WHY we feel like this, you realise we have NOTHING that needs hiding.
Our arms work (if we are lucky). Mine might wobble when I move them but that doesn’t make me any less of a person. It about looking at ‘Body Functionality’ instead of ‘Body Aesthetics’.
When I run, I get my arms out deliberately (!) because it feels nice to get the air on my skin and because the wider works needs to see them! My arms are JUST as deserving as sun as anyone else’s!! If I hide them, I’m not showing that women come in all shapes and sizes. And I firmly believe that all shapes and sizes are okay.
Also, what message do we send our children if we refuse to bare certain parts of ourselves because we don’t feel good enough? As I said to the women on my workshop last week, what happens if our bodies never get slimmer and we just have what we have.
What then? It’s worth thinking about, because otherwise we can send our lives hating what we’ve got and covering it up. For what?
I run Bristol workshops and provide 121 coaching in person and online, to help women feel better about their relationship with food and themselves. It’s not about dieting, but changing the way you think.
If you’d like a free 30 minute consultation with me on weight/dieting/body image feel free to book yourself in here
For more information on Lisa and her great work, check out her website