Thanks to the amazing Kelly Boaz for putting together an incredible list to help people create a healthy body positive space. I read, and re-read this list multiple times this year, feeling how important it is and adapted it for my own life as she encourages. Her original stuff is denoted with * Please go check her out at: kellyboaz.com
Here is my list ❤️
*1. No mention of weight or body shape – your own, that of someone in the conversation, or someone else altogether. To comment, whether positively or negatively, suggests to those around you that weight is something that is important.* Unless you’re the other persons doctor, weight isn’t important, and shouldn’t be a topic of conversation. It certainly shouldn’t be part of social interactions, it’s boring, tedious and the conversations can lead to an unhealthy obsession with numbers that are unimportant within a social context. Which leads us to…
*2. No mention of numbers: weight, calories, lbs lost or gained, number of hours exercised, etc. These can create an unhealthy preoccupation with numbers and breed competition.* In addition, these conversations breed a false sense of accomplishment associated with things like unhealthy restriction or overtraining doing psychological and physical harm to the participants in these activities or conversations. Also? Boring. Hearing my brilliant, creative, talented friends reduced to discussing this when getting together saps my spirit and their own without them realizing it.
*3. No moralization of food. Food isn’t good or bad, it just is. Yes, some of it is better for us than others,* depending on health conditions and medical dictates, *but denying ourselves is bad for our mental health. Some foods are physical health foods, some are mental health foods. Choosing one over the other does not make us good or bad people.* Ignoring the mental health aspect of health is dangerous and harmful in the long term, moralizing food as arbitrarily “good or bad” with no underlying medical reason creates guilt and shame surrounding food choices, leading to…
*4. No shaming. This one is most often directed at self: “I was so lazy today, I didn’t go to the gym,” “I was so bad . . . I ate (x)” Sometimes, it is directed at others, too: “If only she’d go on this diet, she wouldn’t have to worry about her weight”. Murder is a moral issue; food, weight, and exercise habits are not.* You may not even be aware of this shaming as it is so ingrained in our conversations on social media, things like self deprecating comments on photographs of ourselves or in response to compliments. I won’t delete these when I see them on my page, I will however remind you that you are lovable just as you are in an effort to not play into this endless cycle of shaming in all our communications. You ARE lovable just as you are.
*5. No preaching. Everyone’s food and exercise needs are different. What works for you may not work for someone else. Preaching is often a subtle way of shaming.* This means if you are advertising a nutritional plan, a workout, or mental health help outside your education or scope of practice I will delete your comments. I understand people may not even be aware they’re doing this form of shaming, so I’ll do my best to monitor my page and keep it a space in line with the positivity I wish to foster. I promise you everyone is very happy that you’re healthy and doing things you love for yourself! Those are awesome things! Not wanting to discuss the exact things you believe or do regarding eating and exercise (especially in pursuit of a goal they haven’t expressed any interest in; maybe all you friends don’t want to do an iron man, or lose weight, or swim or competitively roller skate) isn’t being unsupportive of you, it’s self care with an understanding that nutrition, exercise and mental health are incredibly individualized. ❤️
*6. Use caution when teasing. What may seem like a simple joke to you may be taken to heart by someone else. If it’s about the body, eating habits, or eating practices (“Boy! You ate that so fast!”) best to leave it alone.* It’s best to not comment on someone’s physical appearance or eating habits altogether unless asked to, as we each have a limited understanding of the others body and its needs. Remember “you’ve lost weight” is not a compliment as you have no idea what led to that change in someone’s body. Refrain from telling others what they “need” to do for their “health” unless you are their doctor or similarly consulted health professional acting within your scope of practice.
*Striving for perfection is the enemy of body- and food-positivity. That’s why it’s okay if you have trouble following this list perfectly. If something comes up, gently remind the person that “We don’t need to talk about that,” and change the topic.
Kelly Boaz, CNP*
TL;DR: Other peoples bodies are not your business. No one wants to hear you recount everything you’ve eaten/how much you’ve worked out. Food is neither good nor bad. Your body is worthy of love right now.