wellness

"Why I won't be shaming my lockdown body this time around."

This post discusses disordered eating and anxiety and it may be triggering for some readers. 

Lockdown is well and truly over for those across NSW and Victoria. 

But there is a feeling I can't quite shake, and it's reminiscent to exactly how I felt this time last year, as my city opened up again.

It's what I now know to be called: lockdown body shame. 

Watch How To Tell If Lockdowns Are Affecting Your Children And What You Can Do About It. Post continues after video. 


Video via ABC.

We've been cooped up, confined to within just five kilometres of our home, with all other luxuries put on hold. 

No dinners out with friends, no visiting loved ones who we've missed and thought about during these times, and nights out on the town? Don't even think about it. 

However, for myself and those around me, as our world begins to reopen, and all that we have known for the past few months officially comes to an end - I've found myself nervous for the inevitable. 

Those long-dreamed about weekends away with my mates have become a reality in record-breaking speed. 

Family plans to visit and the nights out - dancing my youth away - are all on the precipice. 

The conversations I knew were coming...

When chatting with friends, we found ourselves discussing our "lockdown bodies". 

Shame, guilt and the determination to "fix" what we thought to be broken were unfortunately dominating the chat.

"I gained eight kilos during this lockdown, I can't believe it!" one friend shouted at me over the sound of Dua Lipa in the club. 

Of course, I couldn't tell. 

Another friend had told me he was on the "shredding" diet and was impossibly determined to get rid of whatever weight he had gained, after being away from the gym for three months. 

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"I don't feel good, I look like s**t," he told me, before explaining he hadn't eaten that night so he could 'appear skinny'. 

And of course, I engaged. I babbled on about my own insecurities, my own shame about the body that had gotten me through this lockdown, and the many that came before. 

Danni Rowlands, who is the National Manager of Prevention Services at The Butterfly Foundation, is reminding us to be sensitive to the way we speak about our bodies - whether that be in conversation with friends, on social media or how we look at ourselves.

"It's been a really challenging time for lots of people and they will be feeling uncomfortable and nervous," she explains. 

"People will be feeling a whole range of different things but emerging out of lockdown is going to feel and look different for everybody. 

"And for some, their body shape or appearance may have changed in some way. Because true to form, bodies do change over time."

Studies have shown us what we already know: People across the globe languished under the restrictions of the COVID pandemic. The impacts were felt, not just emotionally or socially, but physically as well. 

"The reality is, as we know, people are shaming their bodies all the time regardless of what's happening in the broader world," Rowlands says. 

"The world that we live in, this image-obsessed world, is suggesting that there is a way to look at ourselves when it comes to our body and appearance."

The kindness strategy.

The Butterfly Foundation encourages us all to be kind to our bodies, not just for ourselves but for those who look to our insight and opinions. 

"Finding ways to be kind and respectful to your body but also to others is really important," Rowlands says. 

"Role modelling that as best you can is going to make you feel better about yourself. It's going to be good for your mental health. It's also going to be good for those around you and also when we look at young people in our life, it's going to be incredibly powerful for them also."

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"This is a time for us to try and extend as much compassion to ourselves and our bodies in this time as possible, rather than that criticism or judgement or shame that sadly many people do," Rowlands says. 

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The Butterfly Foundation advises everyone to change how they engage with their bodies by following simple steps. 

1. Be mindful of what you post.

Sharing 'jokes' online about our appearances, or others, is not okay. However, as we emerge from lockdowns, it is even more crucial that we are sensitive with what we post online. 

"We know that it's not helpful and it won't make anyone feel good about themselves by voicing intense opinions about your appearance," Rowlands says.

2. Report and block upsetting content.

The Butterfly Foundation urges us to report content that is upsetting, triggering, or is unsafe information. 

Alternatively, muting, blocking or unfollowing users online that perpetuate problematic body image issues is a crucial step. 

Rowlands says often people will use 'body talk' or 'diet talk' language when referencing appearance, therefore "reaffirming ideas that are incredibly toxic for people".

"If you or someone is putting out content [like this], just be careful of the language that you're using. Try to eliminate any language that reaffirms body or appearance ideals."

Aside from this though, Rowlands encourages everyone to not feel the need to justify the changes we may have seen with our appearance. 

"This is a time for us to try to extend as much compassion to ourselves and our bodies as much as possible, rather than that criticism or judgement or shame," she says.  

"If somebody is talking in a way that is really negative and they're really struggling with their body or the changes or their mental health - it could actually be a sign that they are struggling with more than just their choice of language."


So, as I've come out of lockdown, I've made it a personal mission to look at myself and be content with what I see. 

No shame, no guilt and no regret. 

I couldn't recommend it enough. 

For more information on how to support Australians living with eating disorders as we emerge from lockdowns, visit the ‘Where do I start?’ page on the Butterfly Foundation website.

You can also contact the Butterfly Foundation Helpline on 1800 ED HOPE (1800 33 4673).

Feature Image: Getty.

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