How you talk about your body

Meagan Kerr Kmart One Piece Plus Size Swimsuit

It’s really easy to make negative throwaway comments about yourself, whether it’s how smart you are, how you look without makeup or your body. I notice it all the time, I overhear in dressing rooms, at the beach, and see it on social media. I notice it most in summer, when you have a combination of the pressure of having a bikini body and all the “New Year, New Me” diet nonsense being thrown at you. Babes, we need to stop doing this, we need to stop putting ourselves down!

It doesn’t seem like much when you say it once, but we never do, do we? We tell ourselves these things over and over, throughout the day, reinforcing the belief that we are not good enough, worthless, stupid, ugly, too much of something, not enough of another. We pick our looks apart in front of the mirror, we admonish ourselves for forgetting to grab that important piece of paper on our way out of the house, we tell ourselves that our hair is too frizzy, our arms too wobbly, our stomachs too fat.

Imagine having someone following you around, saying those things, over and over again. Criticising your every move. Just when you wanted to go swimming, saying, “no way Fatty, you can’t do that. No one wants to see that body in a swimsuit”. If someone actually did that I’d turn around and give them a bloody piece of my mind! But you know what? I did that to myself for years. I was my own inner Mean Girl. I know a lot of you are the same too, because I’ve seen the way you talk about yourselves online and overheard you in changing rooms, and I think you deserve better!

Be nice to yourself, it's hard to be happy when someone's mean to you all the time

When you hear these internal messages, you start to believe them. You start to think it’s true, that you can’t go swimming because of how you look. That you don’t stand a chance of getting your dream job or passing that test because you’re not smart enough.

It’s not just you though – other people start to believe those messages too. Imagine you’re at the beach with your kids, your friends kids, your nieces and nephews, any of the young people in your life. If you “can’t go swimming” because of what your body looks like, you’re telling them that they might not be able to go swimming if they have fat legs or a round stomach or whatever it is that you’re worrying about. You’re telling them that people with fat legs / a round stomach / whatever deserve to be left out, to be treated differently. It might not affect them right now, but trust me – it’s something that they will hold on to.

As kids, we learn an awful lot from our parents – how to treat ourselves, how others should treat us, how we should treat others, how we should treat our partners, our friends, our own kids … Now that I am a stepmother to a teenager, I am determined that I will not teach him that there is anything shameful about his body, about my body, about his dad’s body, about any body. I don’t want him to grow up feeling crap about himself the way I did, and I sure as hell don’t want him to be like the bullies I encounter on a regular basis either, the ones who leave nasty comments on photos or make snide comments in the hallways at school. I want him to be someone who encourages people to join in, not to let themselves miss out.

Rule 1: Be nice to others Rule 2: Be nice to yourself

Image via chibird

I know it’s not as easy as saying “don’t feel shit about your body”. If you’ve been thinking negative things about yourself, then those messages are pretty ingrained in there, and that’s not going to change overnight. It took me a really long time to unlearn that way of thinking and even now there are some days when even I fall prey to the negative self talk! So instead, when I catch myself thinking or saying negative things about myself, I stop and think “is that really true?”. Of course, it’s not.

Make a list of the things that are true. The things you think are great about you, about your body. Ask your friends, your family, your partner if you have to! Remind yourself of them often, carry them with you if you have to and read them when you feel shitty. When you think or say something negative about yourself, counteract that with something positive about yourself. Changing the messages we hear about ourselves is a great way to start changing that cycle of negative self talk.

Let’s begin now: I want you to tell me one thing you think is really awesome about yourself.
It could be anything, just make sure it’s positive!

17 thoughts on “How you talk about your body

  1. Good article, Meagan. I like my smile and I love my laugh – it really does make other people smile with me.

    Can I add, we should also try to have the confidence to tell other people when we like something about them. I mean, stop someone on the street or in the coffee shop and tell them when you think they look good. I’ve done this for years, just telling someone if I like their hair or their earrings or shoes or whatever. Most people just light up to hear something nice from a stranger.

    And please, when someone says it to us, let’s agree we’ll accept the compliment graciously, not say, “No, I don’t.[whatever]”. They don’t know us, they have nothing to gain by lying to us, they wouldn’t say it if they didn’t really think it.

    The other day, I had just stepped off an escalator when two women behind me stopped me and admired my dress. They were really taken with it, and when the conversation finished one concluded with, “You must feel like a million dollars in that dress”. I really do like the dress, but you can bet I liked it even more after that! She had made my day, and I told her so. I’m in my late 40s, that invisible age, so it was particularly striking.

    And you know the best thing… I was on my way to a first coffee date with a guy I met online dating. How amazing that two total strangers should give me such a huge confidence boost at a time like that!

    I hope I can do the same for someone else.


  2. I went shopping with my mum recently and it was so nice to be the positive voice telling her she looked great. My mum has a seriously critical eye when she looks at herself . I convinced her to get two tops that actually show her shape (and looked fab) and now I just have to hope she wears them!


  3. Great article Meagan! I think my upper and lower body is awesome, strong and shapely. I am working on loving my belly, but I am sure it will come just as I have with the rest of my body.

    Thank you Meagan for helping myself and so many to love ourselves.



  4. I am really amazing at taking other people into account. When people have a bad day, I’m good at spoiling them with their favourite thing and that makes me feel good about myself. Physically, I have an amazing nose and my freckles are awesome.



  5. Amen! I work in the health and fitness industry, and with a background in media this negative self talk attitude is such a culture issue. I recently made the move to being a yoga teacher and there was so much in the classes about self love and self acceptance but that was two years of training and I still catch myself with throwaway negative self talk! Time, practice and patience all help (and the awareness that you’re doing it!)


    • It really is a cultural issue, and I think we owe it to ourselves to do better. It wasn’t until I started working in the fashion and beauty industry that I realised how problematic it is.


  6. Good article Meagan. I was looking at myself in my nightie last night and I was thinking…Who says that this body isn’t just right? What is wrong with curved shoulders, rolls and generous thighs? Viewing my body, first with a neutral eye and then a free and appreciative one. There are so many filters that we can look through when we look at our bodies. Most of the filters we didn’t even ask for and have been handed down to us like a vase we don’t want but feel bad about getting rid of.

    So perhaps we need a declutter of all out inherited filters and go shopping for new ones that suit us better, or, be brave and go #nofilter on ourselves and view our bodies without judgement


    • Yes! I love the way you worded that. Sometimes even viewing with a neutral eye (much less an appreciative one) is hard, but taking off those filters and recognising them for what they are makes a big difference.


Add your comment below: