Body Shame: The Lies We Are Told by Religion And Society

The world is starting to feel like a dangerous place to have a body. We need to speak openly about body shame, why it’s happening, and what YOU can do to change the culture of body shame!

Body Shame: The Lies We Are Told by Religion And Society

Body Shame: The Lies We Are Told by Religion And Society

Body Shame: The Lies We Are Told by Religion And Society

3 minute read

No matter what we look like, most of us currently have some level of body shame, or have experienced it in the past.  

In this steam, sex educator Lucia Pavone talks about how society and religion have impacted the way we view our bodies, and how we can let go of some of that instilled shame

Messages about what our body should look and feel like come at us the second we enter the world. The media — and particularly porn — tells us we should be thin without stretch marks, hairless, blonde and blue-eyed. We are taught to compare ourselves to those on camera, and to people around us. Meanwhile, religion teaches us to have shame around our sexuality and that our bodies are not for pleasure and sex unless it’s for reproduction. 

No matter what size we are, or how we experience our sexuality, our shame is valid as these messages are imprinted on all of us. It can be especially difficult to come to terms with a changing body as we age, or after we give birth, or after we put on or lose weight. We condemn and compare ourselves. 

But when we start to really break down shame, we can begin to move past it. After all, shame only exists when there are others with different standards of morality or viewpoints to judge you. It can be a way to control and police as “people use [shame] to make other people act a certain way,” says Pavone. But this type of control doesn’t work when applied to our bodies. For example, “shaming people into losing weight is not helpful, says Pavone. Being aware of how constructed these harmful messages are, is the first step toward not buying into them. Because once we love the skin we’re in, shame cannot touch us. 

To move past the shame, Pavone suggests taking a deep breath and asking yourself why you’re assuming another person is judging you, and if that assumption is realistic. If you are feeling bad about a part of your body, try to instead think about how that body part serves you. Maybe you are feeling ashamed of the size of your ass, but then you can say,“My ass is juicy and my partner loves slapping it in bed.”  When you start feeling shame, try applying what Pavone calls “the five-second rule.”  Count backwards from five, and rewrite the narrative in your head to turn your shame into excitement. You can also move through your body shame by figuring out the real issue. For example, if you have shame around your weight, that shame might actually be rooted in what someone once said to you about your weight. But the shame was never really about the weight itself. 

Moving past shame is easier said than done, but if we can first recognize where the shame comes from and why we’re feeling it, then focus on changing narratives about ourselves, we can begin to shed shame. If enough of us do this, we can start attacking the systemic and religious messages that create the shame in the first place.

Lucia Pavone

Reviewed for Medical Accuracy

Lucia Pavone is an international speaker, sex educator, and instructor of the art of sensual pleasure. She has spent years researching communication, intentional living and sensuality, and has experienced over 6,000 hours of Deliberate Embodied Orgasm (full-bodied, extended orgasm). On O.school Lucia supports women and couples to connect to their sensuality, love the body they are in and have a sex life worth bragging about.

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