Crimes committed against bodies are so common that they aren’t even recognized as the cruel and abusive actions they really are.
Body crimes can be categorized into two groups. There’s hate crimes and criminal neglect.
Hate crimes are the things we say about our bodies. We obsess over every little thing we think is wrong. We compare ourselves unfavorably to celebrity bodies and our “friends” in our social media networks. Then we inflict hateful words on ourselves.
- “I’m a worthless, fat pig.”
- “My thighs are disgusting.”
- “Look at this gross, belly flab! I would like to slice it off.”
- “I’m not going to (i.e. put on a bathing suit, go to my reunion, date, etc.) until I am not such a huge, ugly, blubbery mess.”
- I’d rather be run over by a truck than to look like this. That’s how much I hate my body.”
Hate crimes committed by us on our own bodies are bizarre. It’s bizarre that we hate our bodies or body parts for the way that they look. We don’t consider how they serve us, how healthy and strong they are. We just focus on our perceived ugliness of our bodies. We, even more weirdly, bond with other women who hate their bodies too.
That our friends hate their bodies too validates the behavior and helps to mask the cruelty we inflict on our perfect and fine bodies. If a behavior is shared by millions of women, then how can it be a crime? Isn’t it an action that leads to self-improvement?
No! It leads to more self-loathing and the other category or body crimes – criminal neglect.
Criminal neglect includes over-feeding, underfeeding, and malnourishment, as well as sedentary lifestyles, and putting our bodies at risk of injury through too strenuous exercise regimens.
We tend to vacillate from the extremes of too much and too little. When we get so disgusted with our bodies we starve them to make them conform to our idea of beauty. When they don’t respond as they should, feelings of hopelessness drive us to go the other way with extreme overeating without much regard to the quality of the food we’re stuffing into ourselves. The foods we stuff into ourselves are processed with added fats and sugars and far removed from the whole, nutritious foods are body’s deserve.
Our starvation and exercise efforts sometimes do please us. We start to feel satisfied, but we can’t sustain the cruel actions of too much exercise, too little food, and perhaps eliminating foods or food groups. We fall back slowly, or a drastic plunge, into the previous cruel actions of an unbalanced diet that too high in calories and too low in nutrients. We go from an extreme criminal over-exercise pattern to criminal sedentary behavior. Reversion to the old habits can also create more self-loathing and more hate crimes.
There is nothing positive to be gained by committing body crimes. We need to stop this behavior. It’s not good for us and it’s not something we want to teach future generations. The crimes need to stop right now. It’s time for body criminal rehab.
If you’re guilty of the act of committing body crimes, here are the steps to rehabilitate yourself:
1. Eliminate or at least limit time spent using social media. The October 2014 issue of Glamour magazine reports that in a survey of 1000 women, 18 to 40 years of age, fifty-four percent reported looking in the mirror made them feel bad. Sixty-four percent said that photos on social networking sites such as Facebook and Instagram left them feeling bad about their bodies. The more time they spent on these networks, the worse they felt about their bodies.
2. Install an “upgraded operating system” in your brain. Change how you talk to yourself. Listen to the negative messages you give yourself and for every time you give yourself a negative message about your body, find two positive things about your body. Write them down! Keep a list.
3. Feed your body good food. Choose foods you enjoy that are nutrient-dense. Appreciate how good food can improve your health and how attractive healthy bodies can be. Balance calories and nutrients including a few indulgent, treat foods. A healthful diet must include all for variety and satisfaction so that it’s a sustainable way to eat.
4. Move your body. Glamour survey respondents who worked out regularly tended to report fewer harsh thoughts than those who didn’t. You don’t have to join a gym or work out, just get regular physical activity doing things you like, or better yet, love to do. Don’t get active expecting to improve your figure flaws. You don’t have figure flaws! You’re getting active as a means of appreciating your body, improving your health and boosting your state of mind.
According to Glamour, “One new study found that women felt better about themselves after exercising even when their bodies didn’t change, suggesting that the feeling of “That was challenging, and I did it!” played a bigger role than weight loss in boosting body image.”
5. Get over yourself. Check yourself before you wreck yourself! Obsessing about what you eat or look like doesn’t make you look any better.