I was talking with a friend recently about body image. She had said she was “5 pounds heavier than normal” and didn’t know whether she should put the effort in to tone up again or just settle in where she was for a new phase of life.
I said to her: “Imagine you are a cavewoman. Would a caveman think you looked hot?”*
“Hell yes!” she said with a laugh.
Well that’s all that matters!
*or another cavewoman depending on their sexual preference!
Your Body From Their Perspective
Most people see your body as a normal, healthy body.
Would your doctor call you healthy? Fact: Doctors do not care about “the last 5 pounds.” They want to see someone who has a low risk of disease, good cardiovascular health, and a happy mental state. (I’m generalizing, but work with me.)
Would a survey of 100 people check “healthy” for you if they saw you in a party dress or your workout clothes? “Healthy” does not mean low body fat. The definition of healthy in the dictionary is “enjoying good health.” Enjoying is the most important word there.
Would a five year old notice if you put on a few pounds?
And you know that caveman would probably prefer you with some curves!
Think about your body as a human body in the context of the millions of years of humans. It’s only in the last few decades that we’ve gotten so strict with standards of abs and tricep definition and looking completely toned in a bikini. We go to extreme measures to alter the way we look: fasting, omitting entire food groups, saying no to things we crave. All so we don’t have a roll in our bathing suits or a little jiggle when we walk. We need to embrace NORMAL and normal involves some rolls and jiggles. We as a society need to learn to appreciate bodies for what they can do rather than how they look.
Drawing by Kylie @ Immaeatthat who has some great content about disordered eating and body image
Do you notice your pet’s shape?
We don’t look at our pets and critique their physique. We see them as animals with capable bodies to run, jump, and play. We would want to help our pets if they were so skinny that they were malnourished or so heavy they were having trouble with their joints, but if they are healthy, then we are happy. The middle 50% range is wide for animals. Why is it so small for us?
Change Your Perspective, Change Your Body Image
In 2019, we scroll Instagram, see ads on TV, watch celebs, read magazines. Images (many of them doctored) are coming at us at fast speeds. Cavewomen didn’t have much to compare themselves to. They didn’t even have mirrors (unless you count seeing their reflection in a pond.) They had no choice but to think about their bodies based upon how they felt. Did they feel good? Did they feel free of disease? Comparison will always be the thief of joy – even comparing yourself to yourself 10 years ago. If I feel self doubt creeping it, I just think about my caveman of a husband or my children or my dog and how they see me as ME. And then I go eat a meal that would make a cavewoman feel great!