Words by Madieson (she/her), 24 WA
The piece ‘Madie’s Top 5 Takes on … Building healthy relationships with your body.’ may be difficult to read or triggering to some readers. Readers in need can seek support from the following services.
It has been a long, continuous process to create a healthy relationship with my body. The ideas that I discuss are not only around focusing on what I need to help my own body, but also how this can help others. These ideas are based on my own personal experience of self-acceptance and self-love. Growing up, my relationship with my body was far from ideal. Reflecting on that experience now, I have recognised that I had body dysmorphia and was engaging in disordered eating behaviours. It is so important to share these ideas and remind people that they are not alone in their struggles. We can get through this together!
Be mindful of the language we use when describing our bodies.
I remember when I was at my unhealthiest. It was always an emphasis on how my body looked – skinny, fat, chunky, wide – instead of thinking about how my body was feeling. Now when I look at myself in a mirror, I focus on thinking about how my body feels internally – my stomach is sore because I am hungry, or I feel full from eating, etc. Focusing on this change helped me adjust my mindset from how I look to how I feel! When we use negative and subjective language to describe our bodies, we are opening ourselves up to vulnerabilities. By moving to a more positive mindset in describing our bodies, we are enabling ourselves to build our self-esteem and have a more positive self-image.
Learn what a healthy body means to you, not what society tells us a healthy body should look like.
Just because society tells us that having a snatched waist is what every young person should want, does not mean that we have to fit that mould.
To me, having a tiny waist would show me that I am not eating or exercising enough. But for some people that is the way they are born with naturally smaller waists, and that does not change the kind of person they are, if that is what is healthy to them! It has taken a lot of reflection for me to separate what I need my body to look like for myself for me to describe it as healthy, instead of what society tells me is healthy.
Accept the way you look and the things that you cannot change.
We cannot change how tall we are, the formation of our facial features, or the proportions of our body. It is so important that we accept these things about ourselves. They may never change and to ensure we are happy and have a healthy relationship with our bodies, we need to accept the things we cannot change.
Understand if there are things you want to change that can be changed by you, and do that – it does not mean that you value my body any less.
A prime example of this is changing hairstyles, muscle mass, or wearing makeup. Just because I want to build more muscles in my legs so I can feel stronger, does not mean I value my body any less because it does not have that muscle currently.
Remind yourself that it is important to give your body the energy it needs.
My body is so strong and so capable of many amazing things. However, if I am not feeding it food, letting it rest and providing it with water, I will not be able to achieve the greatness that is destined for everyone! This energy can come from all sources of food. I remind myself that there are no good or bad foods, just foods that I can enjoy more of and others I can enjoy in moderation. As well as understanding my own body’s sensitivities to foods and accepting that it is okay, I need to listen and understand my sensitivities.
Illustration by Aileen. You can find more of her work on Instagram @aileenngstudio