Reframing Body Shaming


Winter casts a thick fog in my bedroom. A fog so heavy, I can’t see myself or my reflection. My full-length mirror tells distant stories of dancing and smiling and trying on reams of clothes. Of puckering my lips, shaking my hair, smoothing out a tight dress.

But, in winter, the stories are bleak; they barely exist. Their words speak of a wispy glance, an eye roll, a shake of the head. They remember a somber face glugging a glass of red wine, baggy clothes, and a messy bun.

It’s not that I hate my body more in winter, but I put a pause on allowing myself to look at it. Why? Because my world, and maybe yours too, gives me consent to let myself go in the cooler months. Wine every day? Sure! Cheese plate after dinner? Why not! An entire box of Lindt balls while watching the Hallmark Channel? Um, yes, please.

So, I give myself caution, heavy, heavy caution, when looking at the mirror standing there in the corner. I glance at it like it’s about to attack. I fear that one day, all of a sudden, I’ll look into it and it’ll show me a woman who is 600lbs heavier because of that extra chunk of blue cheese she ate at 11pm last night. I stay away from it and it doesn’t want much to do with me either.

Then, with a sudden smack in the face, the festivities are over. The tree goes down, the twinkly lights go off, the flowers blossom, the robins chirp. Suddenly, it’s the month you have to face up to what you have. To what you’ve done.

Wow. Dramatic. Is it really that bad?

I took a look at myself one Monday morning; the first Monday morning after New Year’s Day. This is the Monday when diets are meant to start, when Dry January should begin, when we should all be drinking shots of apple cider vinegar (not tequila). I opened my eyes and really looked. I looked from the front, the back, the side. I poked my belly, I squeezed my thighs. What damage had I done?

It wasn’t a train wreck. I hadn’t gained 50lbs. I’d probably gained less than five in actuality. My cellulite was still there, but was it worse? Probably not. Were my cheeks a little swollen, a slightly darker shade of blotchy red from all the booze? Yeah, a little bit. But getting back into usual habits (and I’m not talking strict diet or Power Yoga) would probably fix that in a couple of weeks. I’d be back to my normal, average-sized body, average-sized cheeks, a single chin. I’d be back to the body I berate myself about at times, but the body that bore a child, that enjoys the good things in life, and that holds a sizeable loving, cheerful heart too.

So, in the midst of this stark reckoning of myself, I wondered: Why do I do this every single year?

Why do I hide from myself in order to enjoy the fine things in life a little excessively? What’s the point of shaming myself into thinking that because I eat a bit more cheese and drink a bit more wine, that suddenly my body isn’t worthy of even my own attention?

I realized it really is all in my head. The act of indulging makes me feel ashamed. But why should I annually shame myself when, in the end, my body stays practically the same? And I know I’m not the only one here. Raise your hand if you overindulged. Yeah, I see you in the back – don’t be shy.

How about for once we just roll with it? Allow it, live it, feel it, accept it, engage with it, honor it, let it be? Instead of kicking ourselves, how about we pat ourselves on the shoulder for having a jolly good time?

Love the skin you’re in, I think is the phrase. Well, my aim this year is to at least accept the skin I’m in, to look at it, and to behold it twelve months a year – through the bad, the good, the kale or the cheddar, the lemon water or the wine. It’s the only body you’ll ever have, so give it a chance and give it some credit. And, you know what? Give it some cheese, too.


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