The secret to loving yourself when you don’t love your body


For a long time, whenever someone signed up to my email list, they’d receive a series of three emails. Here’s the question I asked in the third of those emails:

‘If a fairy godmother was to descend from the sky right at this moment and offer to wave her wand for you … what would you ask her to do?’

Here are two real responses I received to that email:

Response one: I would no longer be critical of and dissatisfied with the way I look (and she could make 20 pounds disappear too!).

Response two: I feel guilty when I don’t work out or eat healthy and although I look slim and toned, I’m not happy. I want to be happy again, enjoy my family and not think about food all the time.

Do you see what we’ve got here?

  • Someone who feels they’re overweight … and would like that weight to disappear so they can stop being so dissatisfied with how they look.
  • Someone who feels they’re slim and toned … and, instead of being happy and satisfied with how they look, they’re spending all their time obsessing about how to stay slim and toned.

The worst thing is, these aren’t isolated cases. This is pretty much the norm. People who want to lose weight don’t love their bodies – but think they will when they lose weight. People who don’t need to lose weight are spending so much time obsessing about staying at that weight, or obsessing about the one bit of their body they don’t love, they’re not loving their bodies either. Which quickly translates to not loving themselves.

To address this problem I’ve seen thousands of words written in magazines and newspapers imploring people to ‘learn to love themselves at any weight’. Yet, I can’t think of a single person for whom that message has worked. So, clearly it’s time to change the conversation and I reckon my friend Bron made a good start when she wrote this piece about ‘body neutrality’.

In it she says:

“I want to be body neutral so that fat, thin, wrinkly, smooth, tanned, white, sore, happy, whatever, my body is just my body doing what bodies do. Nothing more and nothing less.”

I love this.

But I also wonder whether we can go one tiny step further.

I wonder if we can catch ourselves hating on our thighs or hair or bellies … and actively decide to not hate them.

  • No, I don’t hate you chunky thighs. You are what you are.
  • No, I don’t hate you thin hair. You are what you are.
  • No, I don’t hate you wobbly belly. You are what you are.

Is the above one step too far?

Then I reckon the very least we can all do is buy into what Craig Harper says in the final line below.

“I will not confuse where I live (my body) with who I am.”