Disentangling Body Shame

In being told that I am beautiful, my mind immediately begins to revolt. I then beg off the compliment and internally refute it. Recently I was told I was beautiful by a man I consider to be incredibly attractive. Unable to ignore it anymore, I decided it was high time to look more deeply.

In just a few moments, memories began to flood in from my childhood. I’ve listed some things that came up for me and how as a little girl with a concrete mind (black & white) this became body shame for me. Know that I am not blaming anyone for my shame. Shame is blame turned inward, here I’m unlocking the causes.

I hope that by sharing it may help others.

(MR = Message received, the shame I took on as a result of my experiences)

“Don’t be vain”.
MR= it’s a shame to be beautiful and appreciate your own beauty.

Sexual abuse and cover up.
MR = Caregivers were Gods at this stage and for them to violate me there must be something evil and wrong with me. The “cover up” just compounds the shame.

Chastised for shaking my hips.
MR = it’s not safe to move my body in a way that feels good to me.

“I’ll tie your knees together when you start dating.”
MR = I cannot be trusted with my body. oh, and I must be a slut.

“You’re being ugly,” or “Don’t be so ugly,” words to describe misbehavior.
MR = there is something evil and wrong about me and my behaviors make me ugly, it’s not good to be ugly (another compounding). Follow the rules!

You’re too much. You’re too loud. Don’t say that. Be quiet. Stop doing that. Do this, don’t do that. Don’t be sad/angry/too happy/too excited.”
MR = The seeds of perfectionism. I cannot trust my feelings and emotions. I’m out of control. It’s better to be quiet. It’s better to blend in than to stand out.

In taking a second helping of birthday cake, “you only take one piece, never more.”
MR = I ask for/take too much. (unworthy)

Clean Plate Club: finish your food, other kids are starving
MR = I cannot trust my body’s signals for when I am full, plus it’s wrong to have more than others (unworthy: receiving gifts = another lovely challenge)

“Act like and look like an Angel” Stay clean, don’t climb trees. Sit and look pretty.
MR: don’t play, or have fun. How I appear is more important than how I feel.

Dieting formally at 13.
MR = I’m too fat & must lose weight so others aren’t revolted by me. I need to be fixed. I can’t be trusted to know what my body needs.

~~~

Using a multitude of spiritual tools, I am able to see shame from a different perspective. Among the tools are AlchemyHeart Meditations & Gratitude. It takes consistent application to break through & releasing the lies sets us free to love ourselves more deeply.

May we all be free of the shame that binds us to our pain and suffering. 

See Mirror Work for more

Namaste

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12 thoughts on “Disentangling Body Shame

  1. There’s value in learning to see yourself through the eyes of others… more to the point, compliments given generally are compliments earned.

    On one hand, it’s a shame that you’ve been attacked so deeply that your perception of your inner and outer-self has been so wildly distorted (seems symptomatic of PTSD, really). On the other hand, your emerging (more accurately: prevailing) ownership of your mind, body and soul is and incredibly beautiful narretive, to say nothing of how it empowers others to confront and overcome their own struggles.

    People with the courage to use their vulnerabilities and insecurity to make the world a better place could appropriately be compared to angels.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dark model, yes, I’m pretty sure PTSD is in effect. Hypervigilance, inability to trust and relax, need to control, avoidance of being seen as sexual in public (and privately at times), there’s more I’m sure.
      The acceptance of my within is very much new. And the beast/punisher within still exists, just not at the level she once was…she no longer prevails, yet she still assaults me, just less frequently.
      Thank you for your final sentence. I’m hearing what you’re saying and doing my best to let it all in!
      Thank you for following and commenting on my process!
      I’ve produced a piece about my thighs and your work inspired me to include a picture. So thank you for your part in my process!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Once again Tiffany I find so many parallels. My upbringing was also shame based. It’s how my parents were taught to parent and it’s how I parented until I took a class a few years ago on learning how to help people in need. It was very psychology based and that’s where I learned of patterns of abuse and the flaws with shame based parenting. Shame can poison a person so completely before anyone knows what has happened. I’m glad you’re finding your way through this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • =) we are also the same age. Kinda interesting. I’d love to know any resources to help w parenting. I have broken many habits and still feel it’s hard to walk that line… Thank you for you in depth reply! Let me know if you’re ever in Virginia.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t really have any specific resources. It’s more just mentally reminding myself before addressing my son (the only child left at home now) about what message I’m relaying. Words like “should” are shame words. Shame and guilt are also tools in the passive-aggressive controlling person’s toolbox. “You should do this…” “You should do that…” It implies you have a choice but there is really only one right decision. You can do what you like and feel guilty or you can do what I want you to do and feel unhappy but guilt free. There is a whole lot more to it than I’m capable of explaining but many of the things you posted about “message received” we’re shame based or guilt based messages.

        Yes we have so much in common. I’m so glad to have connected. i will definitely look you up if I ever get around that way! šŸ˜Š

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I do avoid shoulding and put downs, just can be a struggle at times to balance my authority and their autonomy… I felt broken, still do in some ways, can be a challenge as a parent to foster a child’s development and still be in some control…

        Liked by 1 person

      • Absolutely. There is no perfect parenting technique and we can only do what we are capable of doing. Especially when those techniques are so ingrained in us.

        As long as we try, we acknowledge we need to learn and need to be better, and choose to give the best guidance and provisions that we can, isn’t that the best parenting anyone can be expected to give?

        Just because you’re broken, I’m broken, doesn’t mean we cannot be good mothers.

        Does a starving mother not still nurse her infant? It may further deplete her body’s own nutritional stores but her body finds a way to nurture and provide anyway.

        That’s what I choose I believe anyway. I do the best I can and always strive to do better accepting I’m imperfect in that area as well.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you! Oh this is such a great outlook. I’m going to adopt it. I can be so gracious with others and so harsh on myself…
        [this is so not directed at you just made a new discovery on iPhone, you can now flip the bird, ha!šŸ–•šŸ¾]

        Liked by 1 person

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