“If we were naked and alone in the forest, we wouldn’t feel shame. We only feel shame in relation to other people and our culture and what they expect of us.”
This message was written by feminist marketing expert Kelly Diels on her newsletter today, and it made me think of the amount of internalized shame I have carried, about my body and my relationship to food.
It made me think of my own relationship to shame.
There are so many other areas were shame can come up….
Diels wrote, “Shame can come up when there is a social expectation we think we are not meeting.”
Taken even further, it is almost common for women to bond over shared shame.
Thinking they are the problem, when it is actually the cultural norms, the social standards that need some challenging, some REAL talking back to.
For me, I grew up with the social expectation to be thin in order to feel socially accepted and respected. I also grew up with other women’s shared shame around eating.
“I shouldn’t be eating this. I’m so bad.”
“I’ll gain xxx pounds if I keep eating like this. Omg I know how many calories this has, but it’s delicious.”
“I’m eating like a …”cow,“”pig,” (insert farm animals of choice that you wish to compare yourself to in order to keep accepting the cultural shame.)”
We carry burdens of shame that are not ours to carry.
The work I am passionate about involves empowering others through education, critical thinking, and social justice tools so that we can at least be aware of the big red arrows of shame, and start asking…
Is this shame mine to carry? Or is it culturally oppressive norms shaming me, asking me to carry the weight that is not mine to carry?
For example, in relationship to food and our bodies, I had to ask myself,
Is the expectation to equal “wellness” with “thinness” to be socially acceptable mine to carry? Nope.
Is the expectation to lose or control my weight to feel respected by society mine to carry?
Is the expectation to constantly judge my food choices and eating behaviors mine to carry?
Is the expectation to equate being “healthy” with restricting food and food groups, without even considering other factors, such as mental and emotional wellness?
Has it been useful?
For the wellness industry, self-help gurus, and other cultural creators who want to sell me weight loss or an empty sense of “wellness,” YES.
Did it cost me my wallet and self-esteem? Yes and YES!
Can I start challenging these red-arrows of shame?
These Culturally oppressive norms?
Yes, and even better if you find a community of like minded people to remind you, you are not cray cray for going against the grain.
Do I get to define health at every size and under my own terms?
YES and YES.
It goes on. Liberation can be a fun journey.
This is why looking at shame with a critical eye can be useful, because so many times, this shame wasn’t ours to carry in the first place.
Where have you been carrying shame?
Is it yours?
If you were dancing around naked in the forest, would you carry the shame with you? Or is merely it the shame of not meeting another social expectation?
What are some red arrows that are pointing towards awareness and reflection in your life?
Lot’s of Love!
PS: I have a free course teaching you how to redefine “health” through affirmations of abundance instead of restriction and lack, and how to apply intuitive eating principles to your life. It’s for anyone who struggles with food.
Check it out here! https://rulebreaker-coaching-