In this episode of Eat the Rules, I’m talking about where body image comes from and how to unpack its origins, as part of the body image series.
I also talk about how this is a systemic and cultural issue that is hardcoded in our DNA.
In This Episode, I Chat About
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Links Mentioned in the Show
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This is eat the rules, a podcast about body image self worth, anti dieting, and intersectional feminism. I am your host summer Innanen, a professionally trained coach specializing in body image self worth and confidence and the best selling author of body image remix. If you're ready to break free of societal standards and stop living behind the number on your scale, then you have come to the right place. Welcome to the show.
This is episode 180. And this is another segment of the body image series and I'm unpacking where our body image comes from, and how to unpack your own body image origins so you can feel more accepting of who you are. You can find all the links and resources mentioned in this podcast at summer innanen.com. Forward slash 180. Before we begin, I want to read one of the most recent reviews that I received, how dare you disgusting? How dare you have the disrespect to call the President of the United States a piece of shit, how disrespectful and gross and you're not even a citizen I was a longtime listener along with several of my friends and we are all unsubscribing eat the rules or you have no class. Okay, I'm sharing this one for a reason. One, if you don't like this show, you can just listen to a different podcast, you don't need to leave a bad review. It hurts the ratings overall. And it's kind of a petty move in my mind. And you know, no one's telling you that you need to be here you can find a different podcast to listen to a second. More importantly, that was like the least important point. But I said at first, you know, I just want to unpack this for a second, if you're a longtime listener, I'm kind of surprised that you wouldn't know my feelings on the leadership of the United States 45 this specifically, and you know my political views and how I feel about sexism and the patriarchy and whatnot, and how those things are intertwined with diet culture and the way we feel about our bodies. But just to unpack this review really quick, I did this on my Instagram stories, but I know there's way more people listening to this. You know, one, when I read this, it it uses says I'm being disrespectful. So it says that to me that these people value respect, like respect is really important to them. Yeah, I feel if you really do value respect than you would want leadership, to be very respectful of all individuals. And, you know, 45 has been just disparaging, and so disrespectful to so many different marginalized groups, to Muslims, to trans to women, to disabled people, like the list goes on. You can think of examples where he's specifically said very disrespectful, disparaging things and then policies where he is clearly, you know, not even really seeing them as like humans. And then the other thing I just want to say here is, you know, like we can't detach the work we're doing about our bodies from the layers of oppression that influence how we feel about our body, which is what we're talking about a little bit in this episode, and why I wanted to like unpack this review a bit up front, but you know, things like fat phobia, and sexism and racism, like all of these things influence how we feel in our bodies and how we feel about ourselves. And if you are voting for leadership that upholds those systems of oppression, then you know, you're not well, I, you know, you're not really four, you know, all bodies are good bodies, or all bodies deserve respect, which I think is a better way of saying it, because you're not voting for that you're voting against that. And we can't detach those two things. And so, you know, I actually don't even know anyone who has an anti diet podcast or body image Paul
A cast that isn't political. And if it is, it's probably kind of fluffy. And not really getting to the root of this stuff. And enough not to criticize anyone, everyone's entitled to do this work in their own way. But connecting those dots is really imperative because we're never really going to see change in this culture. Like, we're never going to completely dismantle fatphobia, or diet culture, unless we look at the different layers of systemic oppression that are causing these things to exist in the first place. And so that's why connecting that is so important. And so I hope that you listening, you listeners listening are, you know, on board with that, and curious to learn more, there's certainly been quite a few episodes where I've talked about that. So like, it really shouldn't be surprised unless you're new. Hi, if you're new, that's the way it is here. But that's just I wanted to comment on that one up front. And it would mean a lot to me if you if you left a positive review if you enjoy this show, because the reviews like this hurt the overall rating. And I you know, I do this show, it's cost me money, I don't make anything from it. Like it's just it's labor on my part. It's because I want this information to be out there. And I want to help people. And you know, your support means the world to me. So if you haven't done so definitely go and leave a review for this show. Oops, my phone, and I would really appreciate that. So we're gonna dive into this week's episode. But before we do that, if you haven't already, definitely grab the free 10 Day body confidence makeover at summer innanen.com. Forward slash freebies with 10 steps to take right now to feel better in your body. This is another episode of the body image series. It is a series of solo episodes where I deep dive into body image and self worth and give you specific ways to be more accepting of your body and who you are. In the past episodes, I've talked about how to build our self worth outside of our appearance, how to overcome comparisons, how to feel better in your body, how to navigate social situations, when you feel self conscious, and so much more. The episodes are Number 158 321 63 Number 174, number 175. And now this one number 180, what I will do is probably put a page together on my website with all of them so that there's a central resource for you to access them. But in this episode, I'm going to talk about where our body image comes from. So what is body image just a kind of a brief definition? What does it mean to have a positive body image and then talking about where our body image comes from, and how you can unpack your body image origins to start to cultivate a better relationship with yourself and your body. So let's start with the basics of like, what is your body image. So in a nutshell, your body image is the way that you feel about your body. And you can kind of look at it two different ways you can look at it in terms of one the reliance of your self worth on your appearance. So whether or not your weight or perception of your appearance dictates how you feel about yourself. And then to the amount of time you're investing in negative thoughts about your body. And I don't mean like you intentionally investing because I do not, this is not your fault. I know you're not intentionally sitting there trying to feel bad about yourself. So it's just the amount of time that is invested in negative thoughts about your appearance based on the cultural messages that you've received. And so some of the I guess symptoms of of poor body image are, you know, not being satisfied with your appearance, relying on your appearance to define who you are, like excessively kind of tending to your appearance or like mirror checking, changing your outfit 20 times, thinking that you are like much larger than you actually are and really kind of relying on like other people's opinions and judgment of you to define how you feel about yourself. And so some of that comes from the National Eating Disorder Information System Center. And I also have a download called the top 10 Science your body image could use a tune up to help you assess your body image. It's available for free in the show notes for this episode, you can find that at summer innanen.com forward slash 180. And so when we talk about what it means to have a positive positive body image, I think I've mentioned this before in past episodes, but you know, I think that there's a bit of a misconception because we know that having a poor body image means that you you know dislike your body. So I think often we assume that having a positive body image means that you love your body or that you like the way you look. And it's no surprise that someone would feel that way because in our sexist patriarchal fat phobic racist culture, we've been told that our likability is dependent on being attractive, and that our worth is dependent on our appearance. So it's no surprise that we would desire one
Like to be desirable, or that we'd want to, you know, like the way that we look. But that's not how I see it because I turn my phone off. Because that keeps the focus on our body. And it keeps the focus on trying to like find ourselves attractive and aesthetically pleasing, which, by the way, there's nothing wrong with like, if you look in the mirror, and you're like, I'm cute, like, that's awesome. I love that like way to go.
There's nothing wrong with that. But when I do work with people, I tried to kind of get past that surface layer, and really get to the root of the issue, which is healing our worthiness. So it's really about working on believing that we're good enough, regardless of how we look. And this can be like a real game changer, because there's so much not so much. But there's pressure now to kind of like love your body and, like just embrace your cell, your cellulite. And I feel like that's kind of unrealistic, because we're all going to age out of our beauty standards. And so long as we're kind of hinging our confidence and self worth on on, like our aesthetics and liking the way that we look, we're never really going to be truly inherently satisfied. And so having a positive body image in my mind is really about knowing that you're good enough, regardless of how you look. And it's about mostly being free of those critical negative thoughts about your body. And knowing that your self worth isn't dictated by your appearance, or how other people feel about you. And when we can get to a spot like this, it's so much easier to just look in the mirror or see yourself in a picture with neutrality. Because when we know that we're good enough, regardless of how we look, it doesn't matter so much whether or not we like our appearance one day or not. And that can be kind of like a relief for some people. It's like, oh, I don't have to like love my body. No, you don't.
You don't you I really want people to just like know that they're more than that, and really connect with like, their deeper level of who they are, and know that you're valuable because of that, not because of like your achievements or what other people think of you or how you look. And so let's talk about why we feel negatively about our, our bodies, you know, where, where our body image comes from. So I'm going to talk just kind of about the two different layers that contribute to our body image in a minute. But I just want to talk about the relationship between beauty standards and body image first, we're not born hating our bodies, it's something that's learned. And those feelings really come from the culture that we live in. So our culture has reinforced this belief in us that only certain bodies are worthy. And that if you're if you're a woman, or you identify as a woman, that your parents really defines your worthiness. And so it teaches us that beauty is really something that we should be striving for that it's a badge of honor. And that it's it's our social currency. And the most common beauty standard that we see in, in North American culture is really thin, young, white women that really only represent less than 5% of actual individuals. And so we're all trying to kind of fit ourselves into this box. That is, first of all, like, just genetically unrealistic. And like, we're not all meant, you know, we're not meant to look the same. We're not Golden Retrievers. And if you think about how the beauty standards have changed over the years, they're always changing, it's always kind of moving the meter on, on what is the beauty standard of the moment. You know, I remember when I was like a really impressionable age, my teenage years, like it was that really like, kind of Heroine Chic Kate Moss look like really, really skinny. Now, it's kind of more like, you know, like really big, but like really big lips, like extremely smooth face, like, it's all of these standards are always sort of changing and evolving. And it's like, if you really think about it, like, genetically, you're not all meant to look like that, or like evolve into whatever beauty standard is there of the moment. But coming back to this idea of like social currency, you know, we're led to believe that if we're able to achieve this standard, then we unlock social power, meaning like we can will unlock privilege, which is accompanied with love and happiness and confidence and success. And so a lot of us when we talk about kind of like why we're investing in beauty standards, when we dig a little deeper, it's usually because we're trying to kind of absolve any of the emotional hardships and discomfort that comes with not having that social currency, which makes sense. So it's like an innocent response to living in this culture, you know, to want to kind of participate in those beauty standards and lose weight and things like that. But it's like almost impossible to achieve achieve that standard. And so because we're not able to, we feel inadequate, and then we think our bodies are inadequate, and we think us as whole people are inadequate, and we think that if we can just kind of do
This one thing meet this standard, then everything will be okay. And for the majority of individuals, even if they do, like fit a different body size or like lose weight or fit the standard, there's usually still that feeling of inadequacy underneath. And just Baker uses the term body currency in her book, in her book things, no one will tell fat girls, and so body currency or social currency, it's really just sort of like this idea that if we can look more like society's standard of beauty, then we're going to obtain love worthiness, success and ultimately, happiness. And throughout history like way, way, way back, for women, that it was in our DNA to to want to be accepted and desirable, because we needed that in order to survive, like our survival was actually dependent on being accepted. And that was really equated to being desirable. So that's kind of hard coded into our DNA. And that's why it really takes intention to to break free of that, because it has that has an influence on why we chase after these beauty standards, and why it's really hard to break away from the pack. And so, in summary, the story that we're taught from a young age is that beauty unlocks social power, and acceptance, and it's something that we need to be striving for. And that's important to know. Because if we want to change our culture, we need to really start to change those messages and unpack those things for the next generation. So that they know that like, their value is not in their attractiveness. It's not in like being pretty, it's in who they are, and that everyone is worthy of the same level of like, respect and humanity, regardless of their body size, and how they look. And so just to kind of tease that out even further and deconstruct where our body image comes from, body image is really the result of social oppressions combined with psychological factors. So when we talk about social oppressions, as I mentioned upfront, that's things like sexism, classism, racism, ableism, ageism, heterosexism, and size, discrimination, transphobia, Islamophobia, like all of those different things, all of those things have an influence on how people feel about their bodies, depending on the various identities that they hold, and layers of oppression that someone experiences as a result. And we you know, based on those things, we carry internalized impression. So internalized oppression is really just the the beliefs that you're internalizing based on these different systems of oppression. So for example, if you have internalized sexism, which pretty much every woman does, you carry beliefs that are rooted in sexism. So for example, you might believe that like your value is in your desirability, that, like, the opinion of someone else of you is like, is more important than your opinion of yourself, it really kind of puts this belief in us that we're less less than that we're not good enough that we're inferior. And it also might influence like your thoughts and behaviors towards others, you know, when I see other people being judgey, and I was totally like this, like, I was really judgy super competitive, very gossipy like, much a lot before I really opened my eyes to this stuff, you know, not proud of that. But it's true, then, you know, that's, that's the impact of internalized sexism, for us to kind of want to pit each pit ourselves up against each other, be competitive, be really judgy. That's the result of internalized sexism. And so that's important to recognize, because it you know, it's not an individual's problem, like it's a, it's a systemic issue. It's a cultural issue. And that doesn't mean that like, as an individual, you can't do work to try to change that for yourself. But it's not your fault that you feel that way. And that you do those things, it's really a result of the environment that you're brought up in and the culture that we live in. And so another example of that internalized oppression is internalized fat phobia, which is carrying negative beliefs about what it means to be in a larger body. And so we internalize the these beliefs that thinner is better. And, you know, bigness is something that we need to avoid, and size discrimination. So or internalized homophobia has one of the bigger influences on our body image. And what's really important here is that is rooted in anti blackness. And you can listen to last week's episode with Natasha and again, D, which is episode number 179. For more on that, or you can read the book fearing the black body by Sabrina strings. That is really important to understand. That's something that I really didn't know when I first started doing this work, but diet culture and you know, beauty standards that are rooted in thinness all are really the results of, of anti blackness. And they therefore, like uphold white supremacy, and instill this belief that fat is bad and thin is good. And so knowing that is really important, because for one, hopefully it gives you more fuel to really fight back against those messages. And to to just see, you know, like I said, how individuals depending on the various layers of oppression that they experience, are going to have even more kind of beliefs and internalized oppression as a result. And so based on all of that, like based on everything, just kind of sat here, like all of these things put this belief in us that we are blessed them that it's kind of this belief of inferiority, if you want to call it depending on on, like the different experiences that you have, and identities that you hold. And those feelings of inferiority really impact the way we feel about ourselves. So, in other words, like our body image is way more than just like growing up and not seeing people with cellulite, it's like, much bigger than that much more deeply rooted than that. And that's really important to understand, because it's not just about like, trying to embrace your cellulite, or, you know, like seeing images of cellulite, I'm using cellulite as like a very kind of vacuous example here. But I don't even know did I just use that word correctly or not. But, but the point is really that it goes much deeper than that. And that's why when we talk about dismantling diet culture, or we talk about body positivity, we need to be talking about those cultural influences, and really looking to raise the voices and visibility of those in in marginalized groups. And so that's really where a lot of our body image is, is rooted in, because we've absorbed those messages of inferiority. And we have to kind of really challenge those beliefs, and relearn new beliefs to help us to assert that we are good enough, just as we are. And then the other big piece of this is just the psychological factors. So like our lived experiences, so body image issues are really a result of, you know, believing that we're not good enough. And from a psychological perspective, any experiences that we've had that make us feel like we're not good enough, then construct how we feel about our bodies. So for example, perhaps you received like overt messages from caregivers, that you weren't good enough, like being told that your body is a problem, or maybe you were put on a diet at a young age, or maybe, you know, you saw one of your parents, usually our mothers, like role modeling, and dieting, or, you know, hating your own body. And so you internalize that, and it kind of then just reinforced the messages that you're getting from our culture. And so you didn't know any different. Or if you were made to feel rejected or judged. Like a lot of times when I'm kind of unpacking these things with clients, we identify moments when they were bullied, or like specific things like the specific specific moments in time where something was sad to them, that really then was like the bigger Domino and in the line, to, to kind of change the way they felt about themselves and made them feel like, okay, my body is a problem, like I'm not good enough. And then we might have had like, more subtle messages of not being good enough. Like if you lived in an environment where there was pressure to be perfect, or there was that, you know, your value was only in your achievements. Or you just you were really praised on your achievements and not on your efforts, like these things that just kind of can happen that, you know, sometimes our parents have good intentions, but they really end up making us feel like nothing we ever do is good enough. And then we may have experienced trauma that made us feel like we were unsafe in our body or fearful or unworthy. And all of that really reinforces those messages of inferiority and form the way we feel about ourselves and our body. And so, the Coles Notes version of this. Do you know what Coles notes is?
Really old reference, or Cliff's Notes, and depending on where you live, if this is that poor body image is is not about our body and fixing our body. Like it's, you know, it's not to be resolved by fixing our body. It's a symptom of social oppressions and our lived experiences that caused us to not feel good enough. And so let's talk about how to unpack your own body image origins. So these are just some questions that you can ask
Ask yourself, if you want to do like a bit of journaling around them. That's cool too. But it's just helpful to really look at your own past and be curious about, like where your body image came from. So you can get curious and start thinking about these things. What messages Did you receive about your body and bodies in general growing up. So as I mentioned earlier, the majority of people I work with had mothers that were invested in dieting and modeled that behavior to them, suggesting that being in a larger body was something to be avoided at all costs. Or a lot of people I've worked with were were bullied, or criticized for their body or put on diets at a young age. And so any of those kind of like pivotal moments that you can think of, you can then start to, you know, look for ways to sort of like repairing yourself and re nurture yourself or start to change those beliefs about yourself. In order to support like a more solid belief system and foundation for knowing that you are good enough going forward. You can also just look at what experience you had that defined how you felt about your body or yourself, which is kind of what I just mentioned, think about how much representation Did you see a various bodies growing up? Like who was missing? What messages Did you internalize as a result of this? How much representation Do you see of body sizes? And you know, different people of color and different abilities in the media? And now, how much of representation are you seeing now? And how are different people being portrayed? You know, who is the successful one? Who is the protagonist? Who is portrayed as superior? What are the stereotypes playing out? What is the narrative around all these different groups of individuals? So you can also take stock of your current environment, like in your own life, you know, what bodies are you seeing more often? What messages are you internalizing? And so those are just some questions that you can start to think about. And just be really aware of in your own life now, and then thinking back about when you grew up, because all that stuff is going to influence like how you felt in your body, how you feel in your body, and it's really going to be the key to helping you start to heal some of those wounds, and tend to those wounds. Because you know, all of those things that happened when you were at an impressionable age, they matter, they matter and, and tending to those is really important in terms of healing. That's a big part of what I do when I work with people. And you can also just think about, you know, other messages that you received about, like attractiveness and worthiness. And even nowadays, like just be really critical when you're looking at the media. So in summary, you know, healing body image is really about having a solid sense of self worth. And that's really about knowing who you are, and knowing that who you are as valuable and worthy, regardless of your external circumstances or achievements. When we've been told that it's our appearance that makes us worthy, then it really takes time and intention to unlearn that, and know that you're good enough, regardless of how you look. But it really is possible. And it's quite amazing when you start to free yourself from the burden of those negative thoughts. Because at the end of the day, like I really want people to be able to look in the mirror and, and just not have an emotional reaction to the way they look and be able to regain that time and energy that they've spent hating on themselves to enjoy life more and to have a greater impact on the world. Because if your appearance wasn't connected to your worth, you'd most likely be able to like look in the mirror and just be neutral about your body. And I mean, that's what I do in, in my program you on fire. That's the 12 week program that I run, which deconstructs all of that and gives you the tools to really know that you're good enough regardless of how you look and to just feel neutral in your body. You can get more details on that at summer innanen.com forward slash you on fire. And so that's a wrap on today's episode and the body image series. Again, I have a checklist that you can download called Top 10 signs your body image could use a tune up to help you assess your body image. It's available for free in the show notes for this episode at summer innanen.com. Forward slash 180. Thank you so much for listening. Again, if you have a minute just go and leave a positive review for the show or subscribe that will help to offset some of the angst that was left for me.
I'm proud of myself for not letting like my initial reaction, which was really the teenager inside of me with like very snarky petty comments come out. I'm proud of myself for that. I handled this like a grown ass adult. And it is kind of humorous though, like, let's be honest. Okay. I'm talking about the review that I read at the beginning of the show, in case you skipped over that part and you're like, What is she talking about? That's a wrap on
Today's office hours. Thank you so much for listening. Got another got some other great episodes coming up soon so hope you enjoy those. I'll talk to you soon rock on
I'm Summer Innanen And I want to thank you for listening today. You can follow me on Instagram and Facebook at summer Innanen And if you haven't yet, go to Apple podcasts search, eat the rules and subscribe rate and review this show. I would be so grateful. Until next time, rock on.
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