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Anger at Your Body

The members of my  "Food and Feelings" message board often inspire my blogs and this
topic is another example. Ever wonder why you seem to hate your body or why other people can love their body at any size, but you haven’t been able to? Well, read on.

If you were a victim of emotional or physical (including sexual) abuse as a child, you may think that because your parents or other adults devalued and mistreated your body there was something wrong with or bad about it, and that you should treat it badly too. The example a board member gave was being awakened in the middle of the night to one of her parents who was angry at the other one but feared showing it beating up on. Then this parent reawakened this poor child later in the night to apologize!

Imagine if this happened to you repeatedly. You would, as a young child, come to believe that there was something wrong with your body because your parent kept hurting it. This is true if you were sexually abused as well. Even though abusers might say they value your body, the impression you would get from being mistreated is that your body is bad or worthless, that is, you’d connect your body to the feelings you had about its mistreatment. When we are children, “bad” is a powerful word and feeling: we feel bad and think we are bad when we are repeatedly treated badly.

Over time, believing that your body is bad can lead to hating it. If parents act as if they dislike your body, they must be right. If they’re mean to it, why shouldn’t you be? There is another case when this kind of reaction arises, and that is when you are teased or bullied as a child because of your weight. It’s your body that others—adults or children—are taking aim at, so your perception of your body becomes one of negativity, that is, my body must be all wrong and bad if others are making fun of it. Mix in a culture that gives you the same recurrent message as you grow into adulthood that imperfect bodies are wrong and bad, and it’s easy to see why you would hate your body.

However, there was never anything wrong with your body to begin with. It was fine all along, even when it was attacked physically, sexually, or verbally. Your body was the helpless recipient and receptacle of hate, an innocent victim. If you have to hate anything or anyone, how about the people who harmed you? Of course, you don’t want to hold onto this hate either, but it’s a more accurate target for your rage than abusing your body. After all, who was in the wrong here, you or them? Switching targets may be uncomfortable, but it’s the only way to end body hatred and to start loving yourself.