I want you to imagine a beautiful dog, maybe he’s your dog. Anyway, this beautiful dog has developed sore knees. He can’t jump up on the couch. He’s not as active anymore. His coat is rough, his skin is dry. You love this dog, so you take him to the vet and the vet, “Ok, we need to look after this dog. He has arthritis in his front legs. He’s overweight. He needs really good food. He needs to start walking. Not too much to begin with”
And you reflect. You have not been looking after your dog as well as you used to. You have been buying the cheap canned food because you’re busy and it’s quick and easy. You haven’t had time to take your dog for a walk - you’ve been working hard. You’re not even sure where his lead is. You haven’t had time to play with him. Your dog has been lonely. Your heart breaks.
You love this dog so much and so you begin to care for him.
You throw out all the cheap canned food. You buy him nutrient dense meat. The best you afford. You buy him a new lead and matching collar. You take him for a walk-just up and down the driveway at first. He is so excited to go for a walk. His tail wags and wags. After a week, or so you go a bit further. Soon you and he are walking to the park. After a while, you buy a ball and begin to throw it to him. The dog loves it.
You notice the dog is moving well. His leg pain has gone. His coat is shining. His skin is no longer dry. His eyes are bright. He is thriving.
Notice here that you didn’t starve the dog or commence him on a rigid and intense exercise program. You gave him nourishing food. He moved and he played with joy. You connected with him.
Now the thing about this dog is your love for him didn’t change when he was overweight. You didn’t find him disgusting, repulsive ugly. You didn’t berate him for being lazy, fat or hopeless. You just knew that he wasn’t at his optimal health. He hadn't been at the top of your priority list. You loved him just the same whether he was overweight or at his healthy weight.
The reason you decided to start looking after this dog better, was not so you would love him more- It was because you loved him so much.
Now, the other thing to note here is that you weren’t trying to change your dog. You didn’t say to him, “If only you were a dog with a fast metabolism, then this would be easy.’ “If only I had a meal plan this would easy” “If only you could take yourself for a walk”
“It’s not fair, my neighbour’s dog can eat whatever it likes-why can’t mine”
And the other thing is that…you didn’t wish your dog was a whippet!
Humans are very much like dogs. We come in all shapes and sizes and like all dogs, we are amazing creatures. Our bodies are incredible beings.
Unfortunately, the beauty industry, fashion industry, dieting and fitness industry has declared that the perfect human should look like a whippet.
When you think about it, it’s so stupid. We don't want all our dogs to be whippets.
We love the fact that dogs come in all shapes and sizes-from Chihuahua to Great Danes, from Poodles to Labradors. They are all beautiful. They are different.
Humans are the same. We as a society need to stop judging other bodies. We all do it and it’s encouraged. It's been going on for a very long time. Think of beauty pageants, fashion magazines. Gawd think even further back to the days of corsets!
Unfortunately, as we’ve progressed, the body judging and shaming has become worse and worse. It’s prevalent everywhere. I even did it today as I clicked on a picture of one of the Kardashians- God knows why. This is the lure of a clickbait headline. Anyway, my immediate thought was OMG she looks like BRATZ Doll. There were thousands of comments on her appearance. Some were positive. The majority were negative. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Well if she puts her photo up there, what does she expect?” But do you know what? She’s a human and there is no need for us to be judging. If we all stopped judging and commenting then this type of objectification of women’s bodies would stop.
Do we just people who are overweight or obese? Absolutely our society does and when it's done out loud it's called fat-shaming. It is unhelpful to everyone concerned. It has to stop.
Some people do it because are just plain mean
Other people do it because they think it will help the person become motivated. But it doesn’t.
It does the opposite.
People feel embarrassed, mortified and ashamed
They feel small.
So if you’re a mean person, then congratulations! Goal achieved.
If shaming another person makes you feel better, then you’ve some work to do on your own self-worth.
I remember walking along to the beach one day. I was about 25. A car of hoons yelled out the window “Fat arse!!!” I was mortified. I had just moved out of home so I ran back and sobbed to my housemates. They were so lovely. They started calling each other “fat arse” and in fact, that became the term of endearment for all of us. “Good morning Fat Arse”. “Night, Night Fat Arse”. How was your day Fat Arse?”
What they did was take the sting, the humiliation out of those words for me. They made it funny. They heard me, validated me and then showed that I mattered.
The hoons were misogynistic losers. Does it matter that my bottom is a bit bigger than the standard behind? Of course not. Remember we’re not all whippets!
They aimed to humiliate me. Well done boys it worked- but not for long!
We don’t know someone’s journey. We don't know why their body is storing excess fat and frankly, it's none of our business. I can tell you now nobody wants to be storing excess fat.
What I want you to do is to start noticing your tendency to comment or judge other people’s bodies. It’s the first step. We think we don’t do it but we all do and the only way to stop it is to notice, catch yourself out and then practice stopping.
Why is this important? It's the first step you need to take to stop judging yourself. How can you stop judging yourself, when you judge everyone else?
Judging is a habit, it's unhelpful. We’re not all whippets nor should be aiming to be.
So if you imagine that you are your dog. The first step to bringing your body back to optimal health is love.
You don't need to wait until you’re thinner to do this. You need to start now.
Some people need to forgive themselves first and that is ok. A bit like the dog owner.
You just got busy and other priorities came first.
But now you know that self-love is vital to self-care and ongoing permanent change. Just like your dog, you need to commit to nourishing food, some movement, social connection and finding joy.
You do not need to become a whippet to find joy.
Love and Live Well
Lucy and Mary 💙💚
Dr Lucy Burns and Dr Mary Barson