Dear Virgie: 5 Rules for Bad Body Image Days
Do you ever have really bad body days? How do you stop the negative thought spiral? I am in a really bad cycle and I can’t seem to get out of my body-bashing head space.
Yes. Yes I do have bad body days. And bad body days are a legit thing. They are part of the struggle, part of the inevitable heart breaky moments of trying to heal yourself while the world is still punching you in the face over and over.
Ok, onto the advice. Here are 5 things I recommend:
1. Congratulate yourself
A bit of an odd thing to start the list with, but here it is: take a moment to congratulate yourself. That you are having this reaction to the at-times shitty and unjust world of which you are a part makes you an empathetic, sensitive and sentient human. Congratulations, boo.
2. Mantra it out
I will share with you the words of my therapist when I tell her that I feel like I’m going to stay in a pit of despair forever: “this feels like it will never end, but that is not true; this is unpleasant right now, but it will not last forever.”
Say it as many times you need to.
3. Don’t get caught up in “Double Arrow Thinking”
Double arrow thinking goes like this:
Arrow 1: “I feel bad about my body today.”
Arrow 2: “I’m a terrible person for feeling about my body today! I have failed the movement, myself, and feminists everywhere.”
You’re having a feeling that is already hard and then you add shame to your shit sandwich. Just be gentle with yourself when you’re feeling bad, forgive yourself, and be open to the reality that this this feeling is actually just an idea that you don’t have to be in an LTR with.
4. Learn to manage your time spent online (or pursuing other things that make you feel like a cat lady who’s never accomplished anything in her life)
I don’t remember what life was like before the internet because by 16 I was having cybersex with every stranger on the internet – ever, but I hear from a friend that life used to feel like actually normal. Fact: the internet does not make people feel normal. So, next thing I want to tell you: TAKE A BREAK FROM THE INTERNET. That means, don’t read all of your social media feed, de-friend or unfollow people who consistently trigger negative feelings, de-install the Facebook app (I did this about 6 months ago, and it was my best 2015 self-care decision) or turning off your phone/computer for hour-long stretches at least once a day. In short, you’ve got to manage the factors and people in your life who inspire negative feels.
5. When all else fails, make a sparkly trivet with cats on it
Other things I do on those sad, sad days: craft a shirt that says #churrosexual in gold glitter, tarot the day away, eat a strawberry shortcake or make something elaborate that sucks up all your brain juice. I recommend MarthaStewart.com; her interns are all, like, on Adderall (not confirmed by Martha Stewart staff). Write a poem, remind yourself that as awful as you feel that there is still cream cheese, roses, cute panties, incredible desserts with full fat cream in them, oceans, perverts and gaudy jewelry and all that means that life – yes, your life – is not hopeless.
You are in motion. You are not static. And I always say – there’s no way to it but through it.
Dear Virgie is a weekly advice column by Virgie Tovar, MA, author, activist and one of the nation’s leading experts and lecturers on fat discrimination and body image. She is the editor of Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion (Seal Press, November 2012) and the mastermind behind #LoseHateNotWeight. She holds a Master’s degree in Human Sexuality with a focus on the intersections of body size, race and gender. Virgie has been featured by the New York Times, MTV, Al Jazeera, the San Francisco Chronicle, NPR, Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan Magazine Online, and Bust Magazine. Find her at www.virgietovar.com.