Body dissatisfaction was measured in the number of body-related negative thoughts and anxieties that occur day to day during this time. It was found that there is a direct correlation between premenstrual symptoms and bad body image. Dissatisfaction increases with symptoms like water retention, irritability, and mood swings—all of which are common with PMS.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)The symptoms of PMS aren’t fun and it’s not surprisingly that they can challenge our relationship with our bodies. But it also doesn’t help that society has taught us that if we’re premenstrual, we’re like irritable and to be avoided.
While it’s true, and natural, that we might feel more negative or on edge at this time, these stigmas can leave us feeling ashamed of these symptoms and the process of menstruation. They might cause us to feel like suppressing them, or neglecting to give our body the compassion and care it deserves.
If menstruation has a strong influence on our body image, even temporarily, what can we do to feel good?
Body NeutralityLately, you might’ve noticed the shift from discourse around “body positivity” to one about “body neutrality”. But what is body neutrality?
According to the Cleveland Clinic, body positivity is loving our bodies regardless of shape, size, color, gender, or ability. However, body neutrality focuses on appreciating what the body can do and taking a more non-judgmental stance, instead of forcing love on things we might not feel that way about.
If we can learn to shift away from the pressure to love our body, even in the face of pesky PMS symptoms, we can find peace with neutrality.
Navigating Cyclical Body Image
Dress to feel more comfortable in your body. Comfort has a strong power over how you feel about yourself and how you move through the day. Ever worn pants that were too tight and felt frustrated all day?
If you’re having a bad body image day, prioritize your comfort by opting for clothing that’s looser fitting or that you feel your best in. If you’re tired of wearing sweats, adopt @officialmacrose techniques to finding a safety outfit to have on hand for that time of the month.
Recognize that the menstrual cycle is a cycle. Menstruators operate on both a circadian rhythm that lasts 24 hours, as well as a month-long cycle, or infraradian rhythm. Just like you would gradually wake up in the morning, and then relax before bedtime at night, get into the habit of handling your monthly cycle this way also.
Don’t throw yourself back into stressful routines around fitness, socializing or productivity right after menstruation—gradually build up to it like you rise in the morning. As you near menstruation again, tone down your activity and stress to making coping with PMS and menstruation easier for you.
In the menstrual phase, the body works hard! It’s important to give ourselves time to rest and restore energy. By working with instead of against your body you can leave the patriarchy of only a 24-hr clock behind!
Create body neutrality affirmations for yourself. According to body neutrality expert, Jessi Kneeland, we can take power back from emotions that drain us. It’s natural to have negative feelings towards our bodies from time to time, however, neutral affirmations encourage us to embrace compassion over judgment and regain the energy lost to these negative emotions.
What are some examples of body neutral affirmations?
I don’t like the way my body looks right now, and that’s okay.
I feel uncomfortable in my body right now, and that makes sense.
I’m dissatisfied with my body right now, and that doesn’t mean anything bad about me.
I’m having a bad body image day, but I will try to be kind to my body.
Re-framing our judgments to be more compassionate can help us move through negative feelings and recognize them as common to the cyclical process, one that is perhaps directly influenced by our symptoms of PMS.
Your body is worthy of love regardless of whether you feel good in it all the time. You can learn to be more neutral in your relationship with it and develop ways to mitigate some monthly discomfort. It’s an act of love to be kind to my body and practice body neutrality.
- Carr-Nangle, Rebecca E., et al. “Body Image Changes over the Menstrual Cycle in Normal Women.” International Journal of Eating Disorders, vol. 16, no. 3, Nov. 1994, pp. 267–273, https://doi.org/10.1002/1098-108x(199411)16:3%3C267::aid-eat2260160307%3E3.0.co;2-y.
- Kneeland, Jessi. Body Neutral. Piatkus Books, 6 June 2023.
- “Mac (@Officialmacrose).” TikTok, www.tiktok.com/@officialmacrose. Accessed 8 July 2023.
- “Why Body Neutrality Works Better than Body Positivity.” Time, 12 May 2023, time.com/6279423/body-positivity-vs-neutrality/.
- “Why Tapping into Your Body’s Infradian Rhythm May Transform Your Health.” Healthline, 2 Aug. 2021, www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/infradian-rhythm#why-it-matters. Accessed 8 July 2023.