Blog post written by Gabi Mahan, founder of the #NormalizeYou Movement!
How can we possibly feel at home in our bodies, when we live in such a diet-culture centric society? If this thought has crossed your mind before, I can almost guarantee you that you’re not alone. How do I know this? Because it continues to cross my mind every day.
The diet industry profits billions of dollars a year from selling us fad diets, detox teas, fat-burning creams, diet pills, and so much more. All because we believe the lies they sell- just take this and you’ll never have to diet again! We would do anything to “just lose the weight,” and so we allow them to profit from our insecurities, time and time again. I had a history of continuously falling into this trap, trying over and over to mold my body into something that it would never become.
This lack of focus on who we are internally got me thinking...there’s all this focus on the body but little to no focus on everything else about us.
For those who don’t know me, my name is Gabriella Mahan. Most people call me Gabi or Gabs. I am a therapist, writer, eating disorder warrior (shout-out to all my #edwarriors), and content creator. I am passionate about ending the stigma surrounding mental health and strive to raise awareness through psycho-education and personal experiences. I unite communities of empowered women to spread awareness about body diversity and acceptance. And, most recently, I created and started the #NormalizeYou Movement.
WHAT IS THE #NORMALIZEYOU MOVEMENT?
The #NormalizeYou Movement is about normalizing who we are in our entirety, one day at a time. It doesn’t focus on our bodies, physical appearance, or what jean size we wear. It’s about our personalities, our passions, our values, our vulnerabilities, and everything in between.
As someone who struggled with food and body image for almost a decade, I wanted to create something that celebrates who we are as authentically as possible—without our bodies being the main focus.
If you haven’t noticed, people have a lot to say about bodies—their own and others. It seems like people could talk about this topic for days on end. Thin bodies. Fat bodies. Large bodies. Medium-sized bodies. Whichever way you spin it, we’re always talking about bodies. Whether we are raising awareness about body acceptance and neutrality or fighting against diet-culture and the thin ideal, we’re always focused on one thing: bodies.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am all about body acceptance, body neutrality, Health at Every Size (HAES), and endorsing self-love, but sometimes I don’t want the topic of discussion to be about the body—even when it’s positive. Don’t you? That’s why I made the #NormalizeYouMovement based on the following five pillars:
MORE THAN A BODY
Society has conditioned us into believing that our bodies and physical appearance are what’s most important when, in reality, what’s most important is everything else about us! Think about how much time you spend focusing on your physical appearance. Now start to imagine if you shifted your focus. If, instead, you spent all that time focusing on a hobby, spending time with family and friends, or engaging in self-care! Society says the size and shape of our bodies are what matters. I say, your body is the least interesting thing about you. You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than your clothing size. You are more than a body.
BEYOND THE SURFACE
External beauty is only skin deep. Beyond our exterior, lies beauty that we too often neglect. That we often forget about. That we often fail to nourish. That beauty is true beauty. True beauty is the kind of beauty that lasts a lifetime and doesn’t age with time—it’s what many refer to as inner beauty. Your heart, a central muscular organ in your body, is what defines the kind of human being you are. The kind of impact you will have on those that surround you. Think about it: what do you want to be remembered for? For wasting time on hyper-focusing on your physical appearance? Or for positively impacting someone’s life?
Letting go of the “you” that hyper-focuses on your body, physical appearance, shape, and/or size isn’t easy. As a matter of fact, it is probably one of the most difficult things you will ever do. But it brings about all the healing in the world. In order for us to truly normalize who we are in our entirety, we must be willing to let go of all the negative thoughts we have about ourselves, allowing room for new and positive ones to form. Unfortunately, due to society’s unrealistic standards, we often jump to negative conclusions about ourselves before checking the facts and questioning the validity of our statements. I think you will come to find that many of the negative thoughts you have formed about yourself actually stem from what society has made you believe, and not from what you actually believe to be true.
When you’ve spent the majority of your life focused on what you look like and doing anything in your control to abide by society’s standards of beauty, you tend to lose yourself. You forget what truly makes you unique. You forget how to appreciate all the other incredible aspects of you. So, in order to normalize our identities, we must be willing to put what we look like, on the back burner. It’s time to focus on getting to know yourself all over again. It’s time to focus on your hobbies, your passions, your relationship with others, and, most importantly, your relationship with yourself.
Normalization doesn’t just involve normalizing the physical. It doesn’t just involve normalizing our cellulite, belly rolls, stretch marks, and razor bumps. It involves normalizing our acne, our sassiness, our hormone imbalances, our battles with gut health, our struggles with mental health, our love for everything chocolate, our ability to talk for hours with complete strangers, our quirky personality traits, and so much more! Normalization involves acceptance, forgiveness, and compassion. Normalizing every little thing about you will finally allow you to embrace your identity as a whole. And it will remind you that: you are so much more than a body!
START NORMALIZING YOU!
So, if you’re tired of focusing on the external, join me in normalizing who we are in our entirety. Because at the end of the day, when your time has come to leave this earth, people aren’t going to remember you for the size and/or shape of your body. People are going to remember you for the impact you had on others. For the way you lit up a room with your smile. For the positivity you radiated. And for the kindness you showed. Our intrinsic value is far more important than our exterior. I know society likes to tell us otherwise, but I think it’s about time we change the narrative, don’t you?
For other alternate views on body image, check out our article on body neutrality!