The revenge body is a concept that many of us are familiar with.
We see tabloid headlines, fitspo graphics and sound bites everywhere about women who, after experiencing a breakup, work their asses off in the gym to achieve a body that would make their ex feel miserable, make their ex’s new partner feel insanely jealous and have a swarm of potential suitors lining up at their door.
- The ex who dumped you because you were “too curvy”? Show them what they’re missing out on now with your new bangin’ revenge body!
- The ex who cheated on you? Wait till they see the revenge body all those squats have given you!
- The ex that you thought was “the one” who broke your heart? Their loss, when they see your new profile pic they’re soooo gonna regret breaking up with you!
But is a “revenge body” really a healthy way of dealing with heartache?
No freakin’ way, José.
A revenge body really isn’t the healthiest way of dealing with feelings of loss, grief, anger and frustration. In fact, it’s a pretty damn awful way of dealing with it that will ultimately damage you more in the long run that whatever negative emotions that the breakup has caused you to experience.
Because you’re internalising all of those negative post-breakup feelings (which are perfectly natural to have) and instead of processing them in a way that sticks to the topic at hand (the breakup), coming to terms with them and then moving on with your life when you’re ready…
You’re channeling them all into body loathing.
Now, don’t get me wrong – if after a breakup, you decide that it’s a good time to focus on some serious self-care and work on nourishing yourself mentally and physically so that you can overcome the negative feelings that you’re experiencing and grow positively from them? Awesome! Do that. Post-breakup is a great time to focus on getting back to some self-love, reminding yourself of your inherent value, reassessing what you might like to experience in future relationships and reconnect with old friends & hobbies that might’ve fallen by the wayside while you were in couple mode.
However, if after breaking up with someone, you don’t process your feelings appropriately and instead immediately shift into a mentality of blame, self-deprecation and body-loathing, that’s not exactly healthy.
And, if you think that after you achieve your revenge body, all those self-loathing feelings will disappear because you’re one of the “beautiful people”… think again.
You’ll still have the same internalised shaming, the same insecurity, the same wondering if you’re hot enough yet, just in a different dress size.
Despite its seemingly fitness positive exterior, the concept of the revenge body doesn’t tell us that our health should always be a priority.
What the idea of a revenge body tells us is:
- That it’s what’s on the outside that counts.
- That drastic weight loss and dramatic makeovers are the best/only way for women, specifically, to regain their worth as an individual.
- That instead of feeling and processing the negative emotions that come with a breakup, we’re better off stuffing them deep, deep within and blasting some Britney while we hit the gym for the 6th intense cardio session this week.
- That if our ex’s new partner is skinnier, prettier and hotter than us, we will have failed as women.
- That even if the demise of our relationship had nothing to do with our physical appearance, our current body is still partially to blame for our heartache.
- That without a “better” body, we may not land ourselves another partner.
- That we need to push ourselves and adopt a “no excuses” mentality (after all, making “excuses” is what made them break up with us in the first place, right?)
- That feeling good about ourselves is solely linked to how physically attractive we are.
- That looking hot in our selfies is the pinnacle of our achievements as women.
- That the best thing that we, as women, can offer the world and our next romantic partners is access to our bodies.
- That, had we worked on being more attractive during our relationship, we might still be in one.
Ultimately, a revenge body isn’t going to punish your ex for every being so blind as to not see how amazing that you are.
A revenge body is going to subconsciously tell you that it’s okay to punish yourself for not falling into line with the standards of others, setting you up for a mentality of “Am I good/pretty/beautiful/sexy enough?” for the rest of your days.
If you’re in the wake of a breakup, avoid the temptation to swallow your feelings, pretend that you’re “so over” your ex and channel all your time and energy into restrictive eating and obsessive working out. Instead, take it as an opportunity to focus on what’s best for you, mentally and physically.
This can include:
- Revisiting your self-love tactics (and stepping them up a notch if you’re feeling particularly vulnerable)
- Trying a new sport, exercise or hobby that you’ve always wanted to try
- Finding the right balance of social/alone time that keeps you mentally happy
- Reassessing your relationship priorities and what you’d like in your next partner
- Talking out your feelings with a trusted friend or therapist to help you process them in a healthy way
Remember, despite whatever your ex might have told you, your value does not come from your body. You’re worth far more than your body, and your body is not bad, broken, faulty or to blame.
Not all relationships go the distance, and that has absolutely nothing to do with the vessel that you walk around and live your life in.
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