Our lives have significantly changed throughout 2020. We’re working hard to maintain requirements and stay safe amidst a global pandemic, we’re fighting for social change, we’re trying, in so many ways, to get used to what looks to be ‘the new normal,’ yet there’s one thing that hasn’t changed since the onset of Covid-19: the collective fear of weight gain going around. Like a virus itself, it has spread from Facebook memes about the ‘quarantine 15’ to moms doing aerobics in their living rooms trying to avoid gaining weight and even young girls going on diets out of fear of putting on weight. Why? Because the world is telling them it’s unacceptable if they do. Societal norms constantly feed us the idea that we have to make our bodies smaller, become more fit, or be “bikini ready”. All of these messages are only amplified during this time and it can be extremely toxic and add more unnecessary tension to an already stressful global pandemic. Not only that, it can be so easy to fall into the habit of comparing yourself to the individuals you follow on social media. When you are scrolling through your feed, you are exposed to a continuous stream of filtered, curated photos and videos. This leads you to compare the entirety of your life (the good and the bad) to someone else’s highlight reel.
If you’ve been experiencing body image issues throughout isolation, you’re not alone. Weight gain because of anxiety, stress, or uncertainty is normal. Emotional eating is normal. It’s okay to feel uncomfortable in your body, this too is normal. Not only are we managing the very real possibility of gaining weight while in isolation, we’re also managing the fact that we’re home with ourselves, our thoughts & feelings, and food can be really comforting. Feeling stuck at home while struggling with your relationship to food can be especially triggering if you have a history of dieting, eating disorders, or food insecurity.
So how do we gently handle this new influx of challenges and how do we manage the body image issues that may be arising for us? First and foremost, we encourage you to be compassionate with yourself! If your body is changing, that’s okay. Your worth and value as a human being is not changing with it. You are just as valuable no matter how your body changes. Please remember that you are so much more than what your body looks like, you are a multifaceted individual with unique skills and talents. Healing your relationship with your body takes time, and it is not an easy ride. There will be ups and downs and the journey is never linear. Start with acceptance. Accept yourself, wherever you are in this moment, “imperfections” and all.
We gently invite you to be conscious of the media you’re taking in during this time. Email inboxes are full of cleanses and keto information, Instagram ads are focused around diet and flat tummy teas, and Facebook is the haven for all ‘quarantine 15’ memes. Unfollow accounts that are triggering for you, unsubscribe to emails that are promoting weight loss or diets. It is your job to protect yourself from the toxic information that is seeping into your virtual world. If you don’t pay attention, you will be subconsciously absorbing information that is impacting the way you view yourself. Remember, you are in control of your virtual world. Don’t be afraid to unfollow. In addition, check in and ask yourself if you need time away from these platforms to keep your mind clear and focused on your health and safety and away from body-centric posts.