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Silence is the language of the suffering. When we feel threatened or upset, we retreat because if you hide from your problems, they can’t get to you. If you don’t say it out loud, it can’t be real. It can’t hurt you.
Unfortunately, this strategy doesn’t really do any good or help anyone.
When it comes to living a body positive life, you’re fighting against decades of damaging behaviours and language.
You’re more likely than not going to encounter people who unwittingly say hurtful things, affecting your progress. What’s really important is how you react to and handle these situations.
Imagine you’re out to dinner with some friends and it inevitably becomes a land mine of body shaming. Negative body talk begins to subtly creep through. Someone starts pointing out the caloric intake of each item on the menu. Another person puts herself down saying, “ugh, I can’t eat this; I had pizza last week, I was so bad.”
The dessert menu comes out and, as women, we’re expected to decline and “be good.” The never-ending competition between women manifests itself as a “who will eat less” situation, passively shaming anyone with a bigger appetite.
When you’re in this type of negative environment and all of the healthy progress you’ve made is threatened, there’s a tendency to freeze up and not say anything at all. There’s a clear reason for this.
This type of negative language is meant to shame. It’s meant to silence. But we won’t let it.
This kind of language is ingrained in our collective psyche. Body positivity is truly a radical movement. It goes against everything we’re taught to believe from a young age.
We’re fighting an uphill battle but it’s a fight we must never give up, and we will only ever win if we continue to speak up and use our voices to help our cause.
Here’s another radical thought:
What if, in the face of those who shame you, you just did what you wanted anyways?
What if you ate what you wanted and refused to buy in to those archaic harmful notions? What if you even went so far as to voice your opposition? A simple, “there’s no way I’m leaving without a slice of cake,” can be as brave as anything else in this world.
Many often don’t stand up for body positivity because they feel they’ll be an outsider, or call attention to themselves in a way typically unwanted because the voice telling them to hide their shame is also telling them to be quiet.
But you may find the opposite.
You may end up being a hero to your friends who desperately needed someone to lead the way.
You could show them they don’t have to behave the way society has told them they should. They could be braver because you showed them they could be. It’s hard to step up and be a voice for change. But it’s necessary.
A lover of music, books, fashion and sports, Heather is rarely bored. She is endlessly enthusiastic about her interests and, as a result of a long battle with disordered eating, a passionate advocate of body positivity. Heather received her Honours B.A. in English from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario and also attended the University of Leeds in the UK during her third year. She caught the travel bug after studying abroad and hopes that she can incorporate her Wanderlust into her future career. She can usually be found reading Harry Potter, watching Netflix or baking far too many cupcakes for one person.
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