What is Body Respect?

Cue Oretha Franklin…we’re discussing Body R-E-S-P-E-C-T with Intuitive Eating principle #8. Interestingly enough, Franklin’s song, Respect, was released in 1967 and became an anthem for civil rights and women’s rights movements. Talk about a song bold for its time! But Franklin’s matter-of-fact response in the Detroit Free Press states, “I don’t think it’s bold at all, I think it’s quite natural that we all want respect–and should get it.” [Insert praise hand emoji]



Body Respect

YOU are deserving of respect. It’s your birthright to be treated accordingly–no matter your body size, shape, color, or gender. Therefore, I think we need another song like Respect for today’s Health At Every Size® (HAES) movement. 

HAES is a weight-neural approach to well-being that focuses on healthful lifestyle behaviors versus a fixation on weight loss. In alignment with intuitive eating, HAES embraces natural body diversity, flexible eating based on internal cues, and finding joy in moving one’s body. Your body deserves to be taken care of, just as it is today!

Why Body Respect?

You might be curious: why not body love or body positivity? While both of these terms are great, body love and positivity may feel unattainable and inauthentic at times. Body respect does not force you to say “I love my body” on bad body-image days. In fact, loving your body is never a prerequisite for respecting your body. Body respect can look like: 

  • Getting adequate sleep
  • Eating in accordance with your internal hunger and fullness cues
  • Being physically active in a way that feels good to you
  • Engaging in social activities that promote connection 

It’s evident that respecting your body, regardless of size, is not “letting go” of your health. In fact, it’s the opposite. It’s making a promise to take care of your health and meet your basic needs of sleep, nutrition, movement, connection, and more. It’s engaging in activities that feel good to you, even if you feel bad about your body image.

How would your life look different if you practiced body respect? 

How to Respect your Body TODAY:

1. Disengage from the talk that promotes body dissatisfaction.

Negative self-talk is like throwing fuel on the fire of body dissatisfaction. When we’re weighed down by body dissatisfaction, it’s more difficult to take the very actions that are supportive of health. It might sound like: “I’m too fat”, “I’m too thin”, “My face is too full”, or “I can’t stand my arms in tank tops.” How often do you engage in talk that makes you feel lousy about yourself? It may not feel realistic to stop these thoughts altogether, but what if you stopped throwing fuel on the fire? What if when you noticed negative self-talk, you reframed it?

2. Reframe negative self-talk.

When you observe negative self-talk, reframe the thoughts to body neutrality or even gratitude. For example:

    • I can’t stand my arms in tank tops. → My arms allow me to hug my loved ones. 
    • The acne on my face is gross. → My face allows me to express my emotions and my smile is bright. 
    • I feel bloated and uncomfortable. → This feeling is temporary, and I can change into more comfortable clothes. 

3. Give yourself and others non-body related compliments.

If it’s difficult to find positives about your body, try giving yourself non-body related compliments. If it’s difficult to practice this on yourself, start by sharing these compliments with others. 

Towards others: 

    • Your humor makes everyone in the room laugh.
    • Your loyalty as a friend is noticed and appreciated.
    • I love your presence; it’s warm and bright. 

Towards yourself:

    • I like my adventurous spirit. 
    • I am a good listener. 
    • My work is meaningful and helps others. 

4. Meet your basic needs.

Body respect doesn’t have to be flashy. It can be as simple as meeting your basic needs, even on bad body-image days. Dress in warm clothes, get enough sleep, enjoy nourishing meals and snacks, and engage in social activities that make you feel close to others. 

5. Wear comfortable clothing.

This sounded silly to me first, until I read the example about underwear in the Intuitive Eating book. I could not relate to this more! If it’s been a while since I’ve done laundry, and I’m forced to wear the neglected underwear in the back of my drawer, walking to work is 10x more annoying. Think about it: how can you be comfortable in your body when your clothes are constantly digging in or riding up? Unfortunately, many of my clients share that they are waiting to buy new clothes until they lose weight. Purchase comfortable clothing that suits your style! 

6. Move in a way that feels good to you.

What forms of activity do you enjoy the most? Maybe it’s dancing to your favorite playlist, walking your dog, stretching it out on your yoga mat, or riding your bike. YOU get to decide what forms of movement feel energizing and uplifting. Discover how shifting your focus to how you feel about movement, improves your relationship with exercise. More on this next week! 

What is one step that you can take towards greater body respect today? I’d love to see your comments below! 

Body Image Support

In conclusion, I understand that creating a peaceful relationship with your body takes time, especially in today’s culture that promotes unrealistic body standards. Remember that your body is deserving of respect, no matter what. If you’re looking for support in this area, schedule a free discovery call today

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