Having been on a personal body acceptance path for over five years now and helping other women do the same, I have realized there are 5 stages people go through. I think stages are great reference points for us all, and while no one’s story is exactly the same, it helps to know you’re not alone in certain feelings or experiences. So, which one are you in?
Stage 1 – Total Denial
This is when you learn about other people choosing to stop hating their bodies and you judge it right away as insane. A huge part of you is still thinking in diet-culture terms, which is completely understandable given it’s literally everywhere, so any one else not part of the system you would raise a brow to. “Yeah right!” really means “I cannot accept THAT because I cannot accept that for myself.” Sadly, most people remain in this stage, never breaking out to realize that a body acceptance approach to life can be a very rewarding and happier one.
Stage 2 – Cautious Curiosity
Ok, so you’ve seen and heard that other women are loving their bodies and you wonder “How’d they do that?” This is a great stage to be in because you’re in learning mode – you’re following people who inspire you, read articles that spark some new insight, you’re exploring the possibility of what this kind of body-accepting life can mean. Your mind is literally transforming, and while you’re not ready to leap, you’re warming up to the ideas.
Stage 3 – The Leap of Faith
First step of this stage is often “I’m never dieting again!” which ushers in a HUGE sense of freedom, celebration, confidence, happiness, a new outlook on yourself. This stage means you’re unhooking from the control of a diet-approach to life and you’re loving it. It feels like a party, one that might never end. You feel amazing and you should – you’re daring to find answers and happiness based on your own experience.
Stage 4 – The Wake-Up
The party is over – time to clean up what you’ve uncovered in stage 3. You might feel a lot of guilt, resistance, maybe even sadness that while stage 3 was awesome, it couldn’t really last forever – least not THAT intensely. You’ve unhooked from dieting, but you’ve not figured out YOUR true path of body acceptance.
This stage is when you realize that what you connected to your body is deeper than appearances and food. You know you need to let-go of the ideals and myths which still linger, but you don’t know what that looks like. You feel a bit lost. This is usually when people look for help (counseling, coaching, professionals) to help them make sense of a lot of complex and overlapping issues around your body, self, past & future.
Stage 5 – The True Act of Body Acceptance
Stage 5 is the rest of your life. There is no set path for what your body acceptance will look like because it will change all the time, but you feel ready to handle that. In this stage, you know a lot about yourself, your body, and you’re open to the acceptance that you have the ability to balance your health and happiness honestly. The peace in this stage comes from deeply appreciating your body and while the bumps of course will come, you feel confident in your ability to meet them based on all the great tools and connections you’ve made up to this point.
Of course, these stages each vary and it’s not possible to put a time-frame on them. Each stage offers something vital for you to learn about yourself and your body.
What stage do you think you’re in right now? What lessons are you working through?