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I was Body Shamed

Updated: Mar 11, 2021

Ohhh the pressure to be thin, do you feel it too? A few weeks ago, I was chatting with a customer who was leafing through my health brochure about the "cleanse program".

She looked me up and down and said:

" You run the health cleanse programme and you are NOT thin."

Stunned at her comment, I immediately began to reflect on what she said.

Does a health coach have to be "thin" to help others lose weight or achieve their health goal?

I have to be honest, her comment left me feeling a bit unsure about myself. Then, I started thinking of the many girls that feel the pressure to be thin in today's society. I started to think of my own daughter, whose good health I am thankful for every day, but who will undoubtedly have to fight against society's unrealistic body image challenges as she approaches her teenage years. How can I help her navigate those times ahead?

Firstly, let me state that I teach and promote good health. I don't go by counting calories neither do I weigh my clients. You see, each of us is unique. What is good for one may not be right for the other - a concept I learnt in nutrition school (IIN) - Bio individuality

Health to me is feeling good in your own body and mind. It means being free from any illness. It means happiness, freedom, having good relationships, being physically active and nourishing yourself with good wholesome foods. It's about finding balance in your life.

I have accepted my body in spite of society's expectations about how I SHOULD look as a health and nutrition coach.

So as I sat back and reflected on this person's comment, I couldn't help but wonder what messages she has had to internalize that has allowed her to judge others (and I imagine, herself) by such restrictive standards?

Since when was being medium-sized not healthy? Since when did a size 6 or 8 or 10 suddenly become a fitness failure?

We live in a culture that profits off of self-hate, one that wants us to believe even a medium-sized frame is not worthy of things like love, health, kindness or acceptance. Even a medium frame has lots of work to do because the smaller the dress size, the more valuable of a human you are. And regardless of whatever psychological baggage you are carrying in your life, once you are thin, you are a beacon of health to certain people.

The last time I went for a physical, they took my height, weight and blood pressure, ran some blood tests, did a mammogram, pap smear and even a colonoscopy. “OK, your numbers look fine, everything looks good. You are healthy,” the doctor said.

He did not once ask, “How are you doing mentally? Are you taking time for yourself? Are you practicing self-love? How are your personal relationships? How do you cope with bad days?” Those questions tell me a lot more about my health and well-being than a dress size or a scale ever could.

So, what if we quit labeling and judging ourselves by our size, weight and appearance, and instead start loving and respecting ourselves for our minds, creativity and vitality?

And what if we start basing our opinions of others on those things rather than the labels we've been taught?

I bet you would not only have an amazing conversation, but you would also see other people's health a lot differently.

I bet you would see their zest, their spunk, their attitude and their happiness. I bet you would see reflections of yourself in them and wonder why you had been judging so hard before.

And I bet you would learn to quit judging yourself so harshly, and instead, give yourself some well deserved self-love!

If you are interested in any of my upcoming programs, check out my social media pages

(IG & FB) @paolahendersonhealthcoach

I was Body Shamed

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