“Advertising for many commercial goods functions by cultivating our body insecurity or hatred in order to sell products. If we all believed we were attractive as we are, for example, we would have little need for most commercial beauty products. Women in particular are taught that their self-worth is determined by how well they match the cultural standard of beauty. Most of us therefore feel inadequate and that we can never measure up. And it seems as if advertisers have recently realized that they were so busy exploiting women’s insecurities, they’d forgotten half the population. So now they’re doing their best to make men feel equally horrible about themselves. Buying into these images doesn’t benefit anyone but the advertisers”.
– Linda Bacon & Lucy Aphramor, “Body Respect”.
A few years ago, when I was facilitating a workshop on emotion-driven overeating, I was talking about not buying into “the cultural standard of beauty” that Linda Bacon and Lucy Aphramor describe. One of the participants became quite angry and said something like “it’s all very well to say that but this is how the world works”.
Continue reading “Expert Insight: Body Appreciation vs. Body Loathing”
You reach for food to soothe yourself, to comfort yourself, to make everything better just for a moment.
But what happens when that moment is over?
The discomfort kicks in.
You feel over-full. You feel sick. You hate yourself.
What was intended to be comforting has to turned into a maelstrom of physical and emotional discomfort.
Why have I done this to myself yet again, you ask. Why?
Continue reading “Gentle Reminder: The Discomfort of Comfort”
“One gender-related theme that stood out was related to caretaking. Every woman in the study, but none of the men, reported putting others before themselves…
Tina was a compulsive eater who used food as a way to practise self-care. During the second interview, she began to realise how taking care of others led her to eat: “I had no down time. I had no time for myself and I think I was using food more than I had been to take the edge off and medicate myself, reward myself, treat myself”.
– Patricia Goodspeed Grant, “Social and Emotional Origins of Comfort Eating”*
Continue reading “Expert Insight: The Self-Care Gender Gap”
Self-care – that old chestnut. Right now, it feels like we can’t move for people telling us we should care about ourselves.
It’s great in theory, but what about in practice?
Many of us yearn for healthy self-esteem. We think “if I lose weight that will make me feel better about myself” but, while it might make us feel better physically, it doesn’t increase how much we care about ourselves.
Continue reading “How Do You Prove to Yourself That You Care?”
“I found in my research that the biggest reason people aren’t more self-compassionate is that they are afraid they’ll become self-indulgent. They believe self-criticism is what keeps them in line. Most people have gotten it wrong because our culture says being hard on yourself is the way to be”.
– Kristen Neff
That self-critical voice has such authority, doesn’t it? We think “if I just strive to be the person it tells me I should be, then one day I’ll be OK”.
But that day will never come.
The day will never come when that negative voice in our head says “well done, you’re worthy, now you deserve to look after yourself”. Its sole motivation is to make us feel not good enough, not smart enough, not thin enough, not successful enough, not enough, not enough, not enough…
Continue reading “Food for Thought: Unlocking Self-Compassion”
You’re walking back from the shops one day when, out of the corner of your eye, you sense movement in a nearby alleyway.
As you approach, you realise it’s a little child, about 4 years old. As she turns her face towards you, you see that she’s crying. Her expression is a mix of anguish and fear. She’s alone, save for a small teddy which she’s clutching with both hands.
You bend down in front of her.
Then, you reach into your shopping bag and remove a tube of Pringles, a packet of 12 doughnuts, a family pack of chocolate bars and a large tub of ice-cream.
“Eat these until you feel sick”, you tell her.
Continue reading “Gentle Reminder: Be Sensitive to Yourself”
“And so this is Christmas, I hope you have fun,
the near and the dear ones, the old and the young…”
– John Lennon, “Merry Christmas (War is Over)”
Ah, Christmas – an enchanting season of celebration and wonderment…and hectic shopping trips and online deliveries, endless food preparation and overeating, feeling bloated and uncomfortable.
Wait, let’s try that again.
Continue reading “How Can You Make Sure You Have Fun at Christmas?”