Healing Body Shame and Dating With A DisabilitySep 01, 2021
Body shame is one of the hardest things that impacts dating with a disability. People really don’t like to talk about it.
There’s a particular type of body shame for people with disabilities. It involves feeling negative about yourself that is then connected to shame about how your disability affects your mind and body.
How Body Shame Manifests
Body shame is a belief that there is something inherently wrong with your body or mind that needs to be fixed. This can be manifested through a lack of self-confidence, negative self-talk, and limiting beliefs. This is especially true in dating and relationships. Oh, if I were only prettier, if I were only thinner, if I only knew how to talk to people. Think of all the ways we think about what we need to be better at before we can be successful for another human to love you in that “special” way, at least that’s what your brain tells you.
Not everyone may feel shame, but a lot of people with disabilities do.
If you’re living with a disability, body shame can cause you to believe that just because of the nature of a disability, you are set apart from other people. This then affects overall self-esteem and confidence when dating and trying to meet people.
Media and Society Promote Body Shame
It’s important to remember how easily media (including social) can trigger negativity about your body. If you listen to ads, believe all Facebook posts, or go to almost any movie, it can do a number on your self-esteem and confidence. A lot of messages about what’s beautiful still don’t include disability. These messages can cause you to feel your difference is a source of shame or a negative body image.
Promoting a Positive Body Image
So how do you possess a positive body image? It’s so key to having a healthy sense of sexuality because the better you feel about yourself, the more you will seek love and relationships for the right reasons.
It may seem counterintuitive, but you develop a positive body image by acknowledging your shame. What are the areas you don’t feel so good about yourself? Communicating about the negativity you feel about your body actually helps reduce the intensity of shame because you’re bringing it to light. It’s when we keep it a secret and keep it buried within us that it grows bigger and bigger.
Healing body shame is about honoring your differences, how your muscles move, different facial features, your spasms and differences in movement, and how you may process differently. Honoring these as natural parts of yourself makes you attractive. We all have the ability to attract people to us by focusing on the positive in ourselves and how your body is different can be very attractive.
Key to Remember
We are never born with shame. No babies can feel shame. Shame is something we acquire along the way. Because we acquire it, we can always give it back to where it came from and not have to live with the doubt and anxiety it instills.