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You're too _____ to talk about body image

2014-02-26 11:44:55

Published on 2014-02-26 11:44:55

I’ve noticed that the more I put my work on body image ‘out there’; I come up against comments directed at my own appearance.

While explaining that I help women to love and accept their bodies at a networking meeting, a lady commented, “Look at you, what do you know about lack of body confidence?!”

At another event I was told that working in the field of body image was “not my calling” because I look fit and healthy.

Last week I received some feedback that my profile photo was “too glamorous” to feature in my biography for a body image programme.

As with many women, my gut reaction to any comment about my appearance was to either deflect or defend it. Luckily, rather than giving into this reaction, I reflected on these comments first.

I realised that how I look is irrelevant to my beliefs, expertise and ability to help women with their body image. The guiding principle behind the work that I do with women is that we are more than just our appearance. These comments simply minimised me to my body. I had been judged and dismissed purely on the basis of how I look. Ironic given this is what I am helping women to deal with!

Whatever your beliefs, opinions or values, their validity should not be called into question because of your appearance. Whether others find you attractive or not is a matter of personal taste, but that assessment shouldn’t be used as a way to de-value the opinions that you hold.

Such comments are a form of ‘body policing’ or ‘body shaming’. They are contributing to an unhealthy culture that says what you can or can’t do or believe based upon the way you look.

When your views, beliefs, abilities are called into question because of the way you look, here’s how to handle it:

• Don’t dwell on the comment about you looks. Point out that your appearance doesn’t change your view point or the truth about what you are saying.

Judi Craddock speaking at Fabulous Women

• Emphasise that whenever we minimise a women to what she looks like, we are contributing to a culture of unhealthy body image.

• When people make critical or judgemental comments about your appearance, it actually says more about them than you. It’s likely they are dealing with their own insecurities about appearance and are harsh and judgemental of their own looks.

To those who believe I can’t be a body image expert because of the way I look, I say this:

I am passionate about this subject, and I come from a place of genuinely wanting to help women develop acceptance of their bodies. I have experience of dealing with my own poor body image, which I will continue to use to help other women. If my appearance offends you, I can’t change that. Let my work speak for itself rather than passing judgement on my ability based on how I look. I, like you, am more than just my appearance.

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