This last statement, "I feel fat," really bothers me because fat is not a feeling. Fat is a noun. Fat is something our bodies need to live and function (providing energy, protecting vital organs, and helping hormonal functions and childbearing). Sometimes people are so worried about what their bodies look like that they can't separate their true feelings from their body image. That's when people start saying "I feel fat," or something similar like, "I hate the way I look."
Usually when people say, "I feel fat" they are experiencing some negative emotions that don't have anything at all to do with their body. Usually having a "bad body image day" is an indicator that you are feeling stressed, anxious, depressed, fearful, lonely, etc. Women who have a history of struggling with an eating disorder are especially prone to transform their negative feelings into negative attitudes about their body. I have noticed this phenomenon in my own life even though I have never struggled with disordered eating. Sometimes as I'm getting ready for the day, I start to think that nothing is working with my outfit, and I get discouraged about my looks. For me, this is an indicator of stress. Because I know this, I can take the focus off my body and instead focus on the real issue. So here's what to do next time you "feel fat":
- Notice the times you take your negative emotions out on your body. Saying "I feel fat" should be a red flag signaling that something is wrong on the inside, not the outside.
- Think back on things that have happened in the last 24-48 hours. You may want to write this down and/or reflect on recent journal entries.
- Identify the emotions that you feel in response to reflecting on recent events.
- Do something to deal with the emotions at hand. Pick the coping skills that work best for you. Talking things out with a family member or friend is one that usually works for me. For more ideas, check out my posts on coping skills.
If you do this often enough, you may discover that there is one feeling in particular that leads to poor body image. For some it's feeling vulnerable, for others it is fear of abandonment, and as I said earlier, for me it's a sign that I'm really stressed out. By following these steps, I hope that you will be able to tune into your emotions and stop fixating on what you don't like about your looks. Take care of the inside and the rest will fall into place.
For more tips on loving your body, check out my posts here, here, here, here, here, and here.
How will you be celebrating Love Your Body Day and Fat Talk Free Week? How have you taught yourself that fat is not a feeling?