Let’s talk body checking… Nope not the kind that you see hockey players do. 🏒
This kind of body checking can be done by anyone and is best described as monitoring the size of your body with external measurement techniques. 🤏⚖📏
It usually results in becoming fixated on parts of your body and can become a big problem when it’s compulsive, consuming or detrimental to your mental health.
Body checking could be things like:
- measuring your wrist
- using “fat” pants to check your body changes
- weighing yourself daily
- body comparison with others
- constantly checking your appearance in mirrors or anything with a reflection
- and/or pinching your rolls or squeezing your waist to get a measurement
There are many opportunities for body checking thoughts and behaviours to form and some may have been learnt from observing other people in your life. 👀
Body checking is associated with the development of a negative body image and body dissatisfaction1. So, if you are working on healing your relationship with your body it’s important to decrease body checking as much as possible.
When you are body checking, you are usually taken out of moments and missing what’s happening right in front of you. This is in direct conflict with being more present, a personal goal that a lot of mamas share with me. ✍
Frequent and repeated body checking can reduce self-esteem, leave you more dissatisfied with your body and may worsen your mood2. Sometimes body checking is used to reassure yourself that it’s ok if you’ve gained weight because xyz is still the same. But this is not body acceptance or body neutrality and it often leads to a difficult situation when xyz changes or xyz not changing isn’t strong enough to help you feel control or comfort with other body changes.
Here’s a few tips to start decreasing your body checking behaviours:
Notice when you engage in body checking behaviours
Increase your awareness of when you fixate on a specific body part or start to pinch or poke at your body to measure it. You can ask yourself prompting questions like, Why this body part? Did something happen before the behaviour that triggered it? Did body checking help me or hurt me? How come? Does the outcome impact my actions? How often am I performing this body checking behaviour?
Remove triggers and body checking tools
Sometimes a social media post or a tv show can trigger you to measure your own body to compare. If this is a trigger for you, take a break. If you have a tool that helps you body check, consider getting rid of it.
Find a distraction to delay or avoid the body checking behaviour
In the moments when you feel the need to body check keep your hands and eyes busy! Maybe a stress ball or fidget toy will help replace the need to pinch a body part or colour an intricate picture to keep your eyes and hands busy.
Consider talking with a body neutral or weight inclusive therapist
They can help you learn grounding techniques and give you support as you breakdown some of these behaviours, especially if these behaviours are resulting in a lot of anxiety or intense feelings.
Shift the mental focus from how your body looks to what it does for you
Your body is an instrument not an ornament (from More than a Body, Lexie and Lindsay Kite, PhD). Work on body acceptance and body neutrality. This shift in thinking can be difficult. If you would like support with this check out the FED Mamas program or start by reading the book More Than A Body by Lindsay and Lexie Kite, PhD’s.
In conclusion, body checking can be a destructive behavior that negatively impacts mental health and body image. By becoming aware of our triggers and replacing body checking behaviors with distractions and a focus on body neutrality, we can begin to heal our relationship with our bodies. Remember, our bodies are instruments, not ornaments, and it’s important to prioritize self-acceptance and self-love. Seeking support from a body neutral therapist or program like FED Mamas can also be helpful in the journey towards a healthier relationship with our bodies.
Let’s work towards a world where body checking is no longer the norm and self-love is celebrated.
With kindness and compassion,
- Tanck JA, Vocks S, Riesselmann B, Waldorf M. Gender Differences in Affective and Evaluative Responses to Experimentally Induced Body Checking of Positively and Negatively Valenced Body Parts. Front Psychol. 2019 May 14;10:1058. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01058. PMID: 31156502; PMCID: PMC6530359.
- Walker DC, White EK, Srinivasan VJ. A meta-analysis of the relationships between body checking, body image avoidance, body image dissatisfaction, mood, and disordered eating. Int J Eat Disord. 2018 Aug;51(8):745-770. doi: 10.1002/eat.22867. Epub 2018 Apr 16. PMID: 29659039.