Claiming my right to bare arms! Is Body Shame a Conscious Choice?

Today I did something that I have not done in at least 20 years.

I went out into our hot Melbourne Summer weather wearing a sleeveless top with my bare, 53 year old arms on full display to the world!

As I drove to the shopping center with the windows down and the warm wind wobbling the top of my arm gently in the breeze, I struggled not to feel self conscious.

I walked around the shops making sure to keep my head held high, but part of me was very aware of feeling like that fat girl at school who got mercilessly teased whenever she dared put any of her body on display. 

That little girl was peering anxiously out from behind my eyes, waiting for the nasty comments and taunts to begin.

Rewind back two weeks ago to where this tale begins.

I was finishing up a session with one of my Diet Free Body coaching clients and we had been talking about her observations after a recent holiday in Europe.

“Everyone wears a bikini” she said, shaking her head in amazement. “I mean, EVERYONE! No matter their weight or their shape or their size, rolls of flesh and bellies on display with absolutely no self consciousness at all!”

As my client finished her story,  I heard the following words coming out of my mouth;

“Body shame is a conscious decision.”

We both stared at each other as the truth and enormity of that statement took hold.

Body shame is a conscious decision. 

We speculated about why we had this body shame and the self hatred that seems so common here in Australia when it has so clearly escaped all those bikini clad, overweight, unselfconscious women, enjoying the beaches overseas.

The majority of my work is teaching loving yourself NOW, accepting and appreciating your body just the way it is and overcoming all the shame, guilt and self hatred surrounding weight and self image.

So if body shame IS a conscious decision, what issues was I still holding onto?

What invisible thoughts or beliefs did I have that are so much a part of me that they don’t even register with me consciously about how my body looks?

Today as I pondered what to wear in the heat, I suddenly realized that I never left the house with bare arms.

I mean NEVER!

An unconscious part of my shopping habits was that any new top or shirt I contemplated buying had to have:

a. Sleeves

or

b. Go with an existing jacket I already have.

I NEVER, EVER went out sleeveless!

I suddenly and vividly remembered a comment I once overheard a man make to one of his mates about how to tell the “fat chicks” on their shared internet dating sites when looking at their photos.

“Don’t get sucked in by her face mate” he advised. “Always look at the arms. You can always tell if a chick is fat by looking at her arms”.

That comment stuck somewhere deep inside my subconscious mind with all the other “evidence” I had gathered over the years about what it meant to be fat.

Today I realized just how much shame I was still holding onto about showing my arms in public. I realised just how many of those old fears I still had that my body and the fat on it was in some way, offensive and never to be to displayed in public and if body shame truly IS a conscious decision, it was time to start challenging that belief and letting it go.

So I asserted my right to bare arms and it felt good.

Scary, challenging and raising up a whole lot of old ghosts from the past, but it felt GOOD!

And another piece of self acceptance and self love settled into place in my heart and soul and that felt even better!

So, how about you?

Do you need to remind yourself that it’s your right to bare arms or bare legs or to go to the beach in your bathers and actually SWIM and enjoy the water instead of hiding on the beach covered in a shirt or towels and filled with body shame and guilt and self hatred?

Do you believe that body shame IS a conscious decision and that you can choose to let it go?

Leave me a comment and tell me what your weight or your body shame is stopping you from doing or wearing and how it manifests in your life.

If you need some help, I would LOVE to work with you on some Diet Free Body coaching or counselling or hypnotherapy to get you loving yourself NOW and having a normal, healthy and guilt free relationship with food and with your body, either in person or by Skype.

Come see me at www.lovetransformslc.com and claim your right to self acceptance and self love now!

Hugs from my bare arms to yours.

Kerry

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14 thoughts on “Claiming my right to bare arms! Is Body Shame a Conscious Choice?

  1. What a wonderful post! I’ve always been so amazed at how un-accepting we are of our own bodies here in Australia compared to the rest of the world! As I’ve gotten older, the old self consciousness of baring my arms has started to set in, particularly as menopause struck and my weight seemed to shift into places I’d rather it wasn’t! The beginning of my “shame” came from a relative’s comment when I was 9 months pregnant with my first son “wow, you’ve gotten really beefy – especially in the arms!” My 40 something heart breaks for my 18 year old pregnant self who then spent years starving herself to avoid such “beefiness”! Now, sure, my arms are not the slender shapely limbs they used to be, but I think I’m beginning to reach a nice level of self acceptance and even self love. I wish I’d known then what I know now. Great stuff Kerry, and thank you so much for being so brave to share that with us all! What fabulous work you do! xxx

    • Thanks so much Cyndi,

      It can take just one comment to stick in our minds and have us feeling so ashamed and unacceptable, doesn’t it? I know I am still uncovering layers where another nasty comment or judgment had taken hold years ago. Wouldn’t it be fabulous if self love and confidence was taught in schools so we could all be inoculated against teasing and bullying and body shame? The sad thing is that it’s often we women who pick on each other the most as well as ourselves. Big hugs to you gorgeous!
      Kerry xox

  2. Shame is always such an important topic to address because it is typically the elephant in the room and talking about it as the universal phenomenon that it is (almost like an infectious disease) takes away some the lonely and isolating qualities attached to shame. Thanks.

    • Thanks Angela,

      Yes, shame is one of those things we just don’t really talk about enough isn’t it? I love the analogy of it as an “infectious disease” and it is really. We spread it and pass it on in our culture. Thanks for posting.

      Kerry

  3. I have been contemplating shame the past few days. Often, we are unaware that we have altered our behavior due to shame. Where does it end, if we are shameful of our arms! Imagine what else may be uncovered. Bravo on taking a leap and discovering you can survive and hopefully find pleasure in baring your arms.

    • Thanks Patti,
      Yes, it is good to confront these things. Shame is one of those emotions that constricts your life in ways that you can’t really see until it is brought to light.
      Here’s to no more body shame!
      Kerry

  4. Brilliant post Kerry!

    I just recently began taking hot yoga with my man and noticed that I was trying to make excuses why it made sense for me to keep my shirt on despite the extreme heat.

    Truth is? I was embarrassed of my little belly pudge next to the brilliantly sculpted women surrounding me.

    It wasn’t until I could no longer bear the heat that I gave in and finished the practice in my sports bra and yoga pants. Once I stopped staring at my own body in the mirror and looking around me, but rather felt into how GOOD it felt to be half-naked and sweaty, I was able to release that silly shame and get on with all of the wonderful treats that came from my yoga :).

    • Wow Sabrina,
      Isn’t it fabulous to realise just how much body shame only makes us feel bad and uncomfortable and the sweet release to let it go! Thanks for sharing your experience. 🙂
      Kerry

  5. Thank you for this bold and fearless post. I loved learning a bit more about you and about your fearless spirit. It is so important to feed our subconscious mind positive thoughts. We deserve to love our bodies exactly the way they are, because they are beautiful exactly they way they are today.

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