I Hate How I Look
How to feel better about lockdown weight gain
When working with body shame, one of the first things I do, is teach you to refocus on what your body does for you, rather than how your body looks (you can find this in my podcasts). One of my group members responded to this by stating:
“It’s one thing to appreciate what your body does, but quite another thing to hate how you look.”
So, here I’m going to address how to tackle the latter specifically.
Often people use the word hatred when describing how they feel about the way they look. People come to my emotional eating support groups saying, ”I hate my body”. Everybody else usually nods in agreement. Having a bad day with how we feel about the way we look can make us feel depressed about our lives. In a study by The Mirror showing the 20 most common criticisms we level against ourselves, over half of them were about how we look. We can escalate rapidly from feeling we don’t look right, to tears and not going out at all.
Hatred is a forceful word. It’s a passionate emotional experience that belies an emotional insecurity underneath. Body hatred is all about hatred of the self. It’s very common for us to take out how we feel on our bodies, both in our thoughts and behaviour.
So, dig deeper to understand, what’s the real problem here?
- Ask, how is it that you can’t accept this about you?
- What do you imagine will happen if you are kind to yourself and accept how you look?
- Is it a shame issue? Where you fear a lack of acceptance by others if you don’t fit in?
One thing to know about body shame is that by focussing on how you look, you’re objectifying yourself. Women especially have learned from society to value how we look, above all else.
- So, the question to be curious about is who you are valuing your looks for?
It’s also going to be valuable to wonder where this focus came from for you, and how your looks became so important:
- If you look back into your history, can you see how influential people treated your looks? Did they value looks over who you are?
- Were you bullied at school?
- Your parents pick on a part of you or themselves?
The healing is all about self acceptance.
One way you can explore this is by thinking about who you would be if you loved your body.
This may help you explore the reason you can’t accept a part of you.
You could try exploring this by saying to yourself:
“How I look is perfectly acceptable”
Your natural response to this is likely to be negative. Words like “No, I’m disgusting, no one would like me” may come up. So, this may start to help you see that your judgement is about a belief you have about yourself and other people. This comes from a more personal insecurity.
Observing your self-critic and understanding that it reveals a lack of self-acceptance is the first step to challenging the self-criticism and the shame. I’m not saying that you have to accept being overweight. Chances are that being overweight doesn’t really feel like who you actually are. But it is possible that the weight is there because you couldn’t accept yourself in the first place. Comfort eating can be a complex vicious cycle of feeling unworthy and comfort eating. Hating your body may be just one part of the cycle.
But, really, who you are is what we really appreciate about you, not how you look. So, the feeling of under-confidence is the real thing to address. Because really, there is nothing wrong with you that compassion can’t heal.