Body acceptance myths to watch out for
As a body image coach, there are a few body acceptance myths I wish more people knew about.
These body acceptance myths can keep you from improving the relationship with your body if you believe them.
In this post, I’m sharing the four most common body acceptance myths and misconceptions that I come across when working with clients.
Listen or read below:
It’s hard to accept your body
Before I get into the body acceptance myths, I want to start by acknowledging that body acceptance is hard.
It’s hard to go against deeply ingrained cultural beliefs about bodies and appearance.
We’re not taught how to accept our bodies. Rather, we’re conditioned NOT to accept them at all.
Diet, beauty and fitness culture all tell us that our bodies are flawed and need to be fixed, not least because this makes a lot of profit for them!
And, as a result, it’s often these industries that create the body acceptance myths in the first place!
Body acceptance myths
So let’s get into the most common body acceptance myths that I’ve come across:
Body acceptance means…
Myth 1: you have to like or love your body
I see so many women mistake body acceptance for meaning they will like or love how they look.
But you don’t need to love or even like your body to accept it.
And yes, I get why women want to like how they look.
It’s not surprising because mainstream body positivity encourages you to love your body no matter what.
But that’s not what body acceptance means.
It means to accept what is – to be able to look at your body and say, “That’s my body” without constantly wishing it was different.
It’s possible to accept your body without liking what you see when you look in the mirror.
The benefit of body acceptance is that it allows you to get on with your life regardless of whether you love what you see.
Myth 2: never having a ‘bad body day’ again
Body acceptance is not an end destination where you will never experience negative thoughts or emotions about your body again.
Culturally, negative thoughts and emotions are demonised, creating the idea that we should only ever experience more positive thoughts and emotions. This is toxic body positivity.
But this simply isn’t what the human experience is like. We have a range of thoughts and emotions, all which need to to be experienced and worked through.
You’re not doing body image work ‘wrong’ if you experience discomfort about your body. In fact, you need to work through the discomfort to find any kind of relief.
It’s not realistic to think that body acceptance means you will no longer have ‘bad body days’.
This is natural and normal.
Myth 3: not ‘taking care of’ yourself
I lay the blame for this myth squarely at the door of diet culture!
Diet culture makes you think that ‘taking care of yourself’ means being thinner. So, if you aren’t actively restricting what you eat or punishing yourself with exercise, you aren’t looking after yourself.
But let’s take a closer look at dieting and hard core exercise.
Both involve ignoring your body – not listening to your hunger signals or signs you’ve had enough exercise and need to rest.
This is not taking care of yourself, it’s punishment.
Contrast this with body acceptance, which means trusting your body, and having respect and compassion for it.
Ultimately, only you can decide what taking care of yourself means for you, because everybody is different.
But, if you’ve been equating self-care with thinness, consider what’s the cost of taking care of yourself in this way? Is it sustainable?
What would taking care of yourself mean to you if it wasn’t about being thin? How would you care for your emotional, physical and spiritual well-being?
Myth 4: doing the work once, and you’re done
Even if you accept your body, we still live in a culture that doesn’t encourage body acceptance.
I know that sounds a bit depressing, but I want to be straight with you. This is what makes body acceptance work so hard.
The real work is in continuing to accept your body even when others don’t.
Body acceptance is a lifelong journey, it’s not a quick fix.
I totally get why some women expect to do the work once, and then be done because they’re used to the ‘quick fix’ mentality of diet culture.
But doing this work is totally worth it – it allows you stop obsessing about your body and get on with the important things in your life.
Body acceptance is a practice – which means you have to keep practising!
This might look like tuning into a kinder, more compassionate voice in your daily self-talk or engaging in self-care that nurtures your whole self.
Your practices will be unique to you – but once you have your go-to tools at your finger tips, you’ll always have something to turn to when you need support.
So that’s it, four body acceptance myths that can hold back your efforts at better body image (if you let them). I hope that you’ve found them enlightening.
I’d love to know if you’ve struggled with any of these body acceptance myths. Please leave a comment below.