By Andrea Wachter, LMFT
Body dissatisfaction is rampant in our image-obsessed culture. In my psychotherapy practice, I’ve worked with kids as young as six years old who were already hating their precious bodies. I’ve treated people in their eighties who’ve been at war with their bodies for as long as they can recall. And I’ve seen nearly every age in between who bear the brunt of the cultural spell of body perfection.
I was lost in the brambles of a bad body image for decades. After many years and tears, I made a vow to befriend my body and as a result, I was moved to extend it a sincere apology. After all, if I spent years berating or mistreating someone else, I would surely owe them sincere amends.
If your body image has been less than kind, may my body apology inspire you to write one of your own.
- I am sorry for ignoring your hunger signals for so many years.
- I am sorry for making you drink disgusting diet shakes and eat tasteless diet foods.
- I am sorry for stuffing you with excess food and then shaming you when you were only responding to the restrictions and self-hate that I was inflicting on you.
- I am sorry for comparing you to other women I knew nothing about and thinking you were supposed to look like them.
- I am sorry I thought of you as an object to gain approval and attention, rather than the amazing miracle that you are.
- I am sorry for hating every freckle, lump, and bump on your skin.
- I am sorry for stuffing you into clothes that felt too tight and hating you when things no longer fit.
- I am sorry for making you wear high-heeled shoes that felt way too cramped and uncomfortable.
- I am sorry for criticizing you every time I saw your reflection in a mirror or a window.
- I am sorry for thinking you could not leave the house without wearing make-up.
- I am sorry for depriving you of rest when you were tired.
- I am sorry for pumping you with caffeine instead of listening to your natural rhythms.
- I am sorry you had to ingest unhealthy substances because I wanted to fit in and l didn’t yet know how to handle painful thoughts and emotions.
- I am sorry I made you exercise in ways you didn’t even like.
- I am sorry I put you in situations you did not want to be in.
- I am sorry I ignored your wise intuition and said “yes” to others when you clearly felt “no.”
- I am sorry I stayed silent when you nudged me to speak up because I feared disapproval and rejection.
- I am sorry I spent so much time criticizing you that I forgot to say thank you and acknowledge your amazing senses, systems, limbs, and organs.
- I am sorry I thought my value as a human being was entirely dependent on you.
- Oh, and I am sorry about those leg warmers and shoulder pads in the 80s!
If the cultural pressure of perfection has led you to criticize or neglect your body, perhaps you will join me in writing a body apology of your own.