Small Group Discussion: Body Love: Becoming Comfortable Showing Your Skin, led by Tasha Edwards (@HipHealthyChick) and Kelly Espitia (@CurvyFitGirl). This session was a discussion on negative and positive body image, as well as why we view ourselves the way we do and how we can change our mindset.
Tasha: Super quick disclaimer before we get started. This [topic] is personal. Super personal, if not for most of us, then for all of us. It is being recorded for transcription purposes. The details of what you say, are not being posted.
Kelly: I’ll start. I’m Kelly, and at my highest weight, I was 270, I’m down 125 right now and body image & body issues and self-esteem were something that started for me the day that I was born. I was heavy, and it’s something I try to work on daily. There days when I struggle but I do the best I can do every single day. That’s not to say that I don’t love myself. I’ve come a long way, and yes, self-love and self-body love are issues that I’m probably going to deal with for a long time, if not forever. It’s just a part of me, right now. It’s something that I’ve come to accept. Maybe I don’t look like that girl, or like Tasha, but I’ve worked damn hard for this, and I’m okay with that and I’m proud of of who I am now as opposed to where I was back then.
Tasha: I’m Tasha, and I blog at HipHealthyChick.com. My highest weight was 232 pounds, and I’ve lost it twice, the up and down thing , I’ve done the eating disorder thing, all of that. Where I am now is difficult to be in the public eye. Normally where I go, um group fitness, was not welcoming to me. My weight gains and loses made me feel like I was constantly being tossed back and forth between what people expected of me.
Now that my daughter is maturing and she’s seeing her friend’s developing at a different rate. I am now becoming very conscious, not just of what I say, but what I do and how I feel about what I put into myself as far as comparisons. It’s about learning to straight up kill it, because if I don’t kill the comparison, the comparison is going to kill me. So that kind of told me how to have this discussion because I think as we try to, like, get dressed…How many of us went through that this morning?
Audience Comments: Many admitted they second-guessed their outfits, they routinely dress in the dark, and not looking in the mirror.
Kelly: How do you feel when you look at yourself naked?
Audience: General groaning.
Kelly: Do you see yourself as others see you? Like, when you look at yourself, is it positive?
Audience : I don’t see my actual weight, I see myself as thinner.
Tasha: How many of you can recall your highest weight? When I look in the mirror, I see 232. That’s who I see, and how I identify.
Kelly: Who pulls bigger clothes off the rack, even knowing that you’re five sizes smaller?
Audience: Nodding in agreement.
Tasha: I think that, for those that are older, you don’t have much to compare to, but, like, when I was 16, I was the bomb! I was fit and firm and no stretch marks, and with my clients, I see it with them as a mental struggle. They don’t even feel like the people they once were. The aging process and the change [affects us].
Audience: Comments about not knowing what their normal is for them individually, so they don’t really have a basis for healthy comparison against themselves. They aren’t sure what their ideal weight is.
Tasha: Those of you who’ve lost weight, how do you feel when you’re still not happy with your weight? When people say, “you look great, you don’t need to work out”?
Audience: People always assume you’re doing something for image or vanity, but I do it for myself so I feel good mentally. If it makes you feel good, that is enough.
I saw a model and asked her what her trick was. She smiled and her jaw was wired shut. She said she didn’t eat. Since then, I’ve had more understanding for everyone, realizing that everyone is fighting a battle and we all make sacrifices and struggle.
We need to stop judging each other and making assumptions.
Kelly: Sometimes family members can be the most detrimental and harmful, even though it may not be intentional. Their words and opinions are the most important to us. Sometimes those moments haunt us for life.
Tasha: Yes family comments have a huge influence. But all of us are the pretty, skinny guy or girl to somebody. If you’re a size 20 to a person that is a 24, they want to be where you are. And if you’re an 18, the person who is a 20 wants to be where you are in your journey. We always think it’s better at the next size, at then at the next size, at the next weight. Like there’s some type of magic when the scale hits that number, which is why we’re so addicted to it.
Audience: Comparison is a dangerous game. There’s always going to be someone faster, thinner, with prettier hair, a cuter boyfriend/girlfriend,whatever.
Tasha: I think social media has made it worse for us. How many of you take 20 selfies before you find the one you like enough to post?
Audience: Everyone agrees they do that.
Tasha: Because we are judging ourselves before anyone else can judge us. We are so worried about what others think, but we are killing ourselves, judging ourselves before anyone else even has a chance to.
Kelly: When I look in the mirror, sometimes some awful things go through my head, things I would never say to another person.
Tasha: Yes, can you imagine looking at someone in this room, to their face, and saying some of the things you say to yourself to them?
Audience: Never. We allow others to have their story and their background. We don’t make that same allowance for ourselves.
Tasha: Have we been taught to be critical of ourselves?
Audience: Yes. It’s also about how do you relate to each other, saying things like, “oh, I love that dress, it would never look that good on me”.
Kelly: Who has difficulty taking a compliment?
Audience: Everyone agreed that they do this or see people doing it to themselves. It’s a female thing.
Tasha: I don’t agree. Women are more vocal with it. You won’t see a man asking another guy, “do these shorts make my butt look big?” But we hear about super successful and fit people who still feel inferior despite all of their success.
Audience: I see my daughter at age 11 starting to see changes and asking questions, and making comparisons between herself and her friends. It’s worrying.
Tasha: My daughter has a friend who is in ballet and is telling my daughter how to count carbs and how to get a 6 pack. They are in 3rd grade! It scares me! My daughter started asking about how many carbs she was getting and she was upset when she reached 100 pounds. She was asking to use the scale more and more. Kids are going to mimic us, and we need to set a good example for healthy body image. Our behaviors speak so much louder. We can be as positive as want, we can have the most inspirational Instagram, but it’s our actions that impact and influence our kids.
Audience: Often, people who teach us shame about our bodies are projecting their own body issues onto us. Being authentic and true to you and your body can allow others to be true to who they are. Especially when it comes to our children. It’s important not to project our baggage on to them.
There is a fine line, we need to teach our kids to be healthy and to make good, conscious healthy choices, but at the same time, we want to teach them to love themselves and not become overly focused on image.
Tasha: So part of what we are talking about, is showing skin. So, when you were getting ready for Fitbloggin, how did you pack? What were you thinking when you packed?
Audience: Comfortable. Disgruntled.
Tasha: When you got dressed to work-out this morning, what were you thinking?
Audience: Loose top. All day wear. Does this cover my tummy? Practicality.
Tasha: Is comfort the only thing that influences you when you buy clothes?
Audience: It’s about confidence. I choose clothes that cover where I want to cover so that I feel confident.
I took way too long to pack for this trip. I know the clothes that work for me; what shirts photograph well, and what makes me look slimmer. At home, I deliberate forever about what to wear, what will look good. Like others have said, I say negative things to myself every day, things that I’d never say to another person. No one has made me feel badly about myself, I do it do myself.
Can we talk about bathing suit season? I‘ve realized the only time I get really down on myself is during bathing suit season.
I’ve never been worried about wearing a bathing suit. I have two pieces suits and I’ve never had a problem wearing my bathing suit, even at my highest weight. Other times are more difficult.
Many expressed that they felt more comfortable wearing nothing rather than clothes or bathing suits.
Tasha: Do you think it’s the suit itself, or being seen in a bathing suit that is the problem for people?
Kelly: Has anyone ever come up to you and commented on something you were wearing?
Audience: Yes. People assume pregnancy, criticism for cleavage, judgement for clothing choices.
Tasha: All it takes is one person to say something to you. Those moments hurt us so much, and it sticks with us forever.
Audience: Shared stories of individual moments in time when they were affected my things people have said to them.
Tasha: We need to come to terms with the fact that we are sensitive about it, and do care what other say and do and how that affects us. We need to learn not to give it leverage it and not give it too much power over us.
Kelly: The people who are closest to us sometimes push our sensitive buttons whether they know it or not. We need to remember that those people are projecting their own issues onto us.
Audience: We need to be mindful of that in those moments so that we can remember not to take their baggage and internalize it. Think about where they are coming from when they are saying these things.
People don’t think about how what they say will affect others.
Tasha: I think it’s important to take a step back and allow ourselves rewards. We never validate our own feelings. You cannot beat yourself up over your feelings. That just layers judgement upon judgement, which makes us feel worse and worse. So now we hurt because of what they said, and we’re hurting because we feel guilty for feeling hurt, and it’s shame spiral. It comes down to grace, like, being super human. It’s okay to be human, it’s okay to have moments and we have to deal with them when they are happening so we don’t carry them with us.
Audience: How much of our weight is our emotional baggage that we carry around? It’s so cathartic to talk about things that hurt us. It takes fortitude to not allow people to hurt us.
We all need a support network to vent to and help us sort through the baggage to the truth. Sometimes you just have to remove yourself from the situation or avoid people to don’t serve the purpose you have in that moment. We all have moments or things that trigger our baggage and we need to remove ourselves from those people.
Kelly: That hour flew by!
Tasha: I can’t tell you what to do. I encourage you to speak up on this issue. We are not the only ones, If we speak up, we can encourage a dialogue on this issue. What we think we see is happening, we have the power to put a positive spin on it. It’s a taboo topic and it’s hard to say “I struggle”. We’re the leaders. We Are. The. Leaders. And with leadership comes responsibility. And if we don’t start it, who’s going to? Do we want the media to have a major voice? Or are we saying, this is what we do? And we want to sway the conversation? We have the power. I encourage us to use it. Thank you all so much!