+
upworthy
Pop Culture

What is 'body grief'? Women share what it's like to mourn their former selves.

Watching our bodies change is a natural part of life. But we rarely talk about the complicated feelings that come from that.

body grief
@aleahelizabeth/TikTok,@sami.rose/TikTok

We've all been through it.

It was only yesterday when a friend and I (two women in the 30-to-40-year-old range) were having a conversation, and this friend made more than one wistful comment about being “skinny and sexy” once upon a time.

Her self deprecating jokes were so casual and nonchalant that actual sadness underneath was almost unnoticeable. Almost.

Except I did notice it, because I have it too. That same sense of unease at being a different size that my former younger self. I have it, my friend has it, and nearly every adult woman has it to some degree.

Now we even have a name for it—”body grief.


Author Jayne Mattingly, who first coined the term, defines body grief as “the universal experience of disillusionment, sorrow, and loss that comes with simply existing in a body.”

Body grief basically sums up all the anger, loss, frustration, sorrow, and general sense of mourning that so many women feel from the “loss” of their former body, and the former self it represents.

@jayneimattingly Replying to @olivepfox i am so happy you are here!!! #bodygrief #disabledtiktok #bodygriever #disabledhumour ♬ original sound - Jayne Mattingly

Body grief can manifest in a myriad of ways—growing older, having children, chronic illness or injury, disability, reactions to medications, huge life changes, trauma, stress. And while it often denotes weight gain, plenty of women who lose a lot of weight can feel body grief too.

Sami Rose, an Australian-based counselor and body image coach, spoke about her own challenges with body grief, especially after reaching her goal weight, then gaining the weight back.

“I’d spent all of my teens and all of my 20s having this number in my head, and this body in my head, that I thought was gonna solve all of my problems,” she said.

@sami.rose_ Replying to @eneesece letting go of the thin ideal can be really difficult, and its okay to miss your old body or old life, but i hope this strategy helps shift your perspective 💖 #bodyacceptance #bodygrief #bodyimagecounsellor #counsellor #bodyimagecoach ♬ original sound - Sami Rose • Counsellor + Coach

After losing about 55 pounds, getting all the compliments from her friends, even being told that her abs were “goals,” Rose was still left with the same insecurities. For her, body grief meant “letting go of the thin ideal” and “griev[ing] the notion of what a good body meant to me.”

Rose’s experience is not uncommon. Countless women are sharing their stories of body grief in a new TikTok trend titled #bodygrief, which has reached nearly 880,000 views.

Women like Aleah Elizabeth, who went from being “super skinny” most of her life to gaining 60-70 pounds after taking birth control.

@aleahhelizabeth Its hard ass thing to go through #gainingweight #beingskinny #fy ♬ original sound - aleahelizabeth💗

“I thought I was gonna be a happy girl because the boys like girls who are thick,” she said. “But as I kept gaining the weight, I literally hated my body more and more and more…And then you gain so much weight and everybody around you notices it and talks about it, and then starts to make you feel bad about it. It is the worst thing I think I ever went through in my life.”

Or Eliana Hope, who, two months into postpartum, cried in an REI store after realizing “the body that used to take me up mountain trails is now stretched and loose in all the places it used to be strong.”

@thesamfamm 2 months PP and feeling like it today… Outdoorsy moms, tell me it gets better? #outdoorsymom #nationalparks #rei #parksproject #newmom #youngmoms #bodygrief #postpartumbody #bodyimagestruggles #bodyafterbabies #hikinggirl #girlswhohike @rei @thesamfamm ♬ Into the wild - Cartwright

Honestly, the list goes on and on.

@olivepfox Some thoughts on body grief and reconciling disability #crps #crpsawareness #complexregionalpainsyndrome #crpswarrior #chronicpain #disabled ♬ original sound - olive fox

And just what are we supposed to do about this body grief? For starters, Rose suggests writing down a list of all the things you appreciate about yourself that are completely unrelated to your body.

“I think that can be really special in just rebuilding your identity and proving to yourself that you’re more than just a body,” she says. “That your appearance is a part of you, but it’s not the most important part of you.”

But also, like with all forms of grief, sometimes sharing what you’re going through in a safe space with other people who have been through it, or are going through it too, really helps you process those difficult feelings. And that’s why this TikTok movement is so important. No one should have to go through it alone.

popular

People are baffled to find out they've been burning candles wrong their whole lives

There's an art to avoiding the "memory ring" that makes a candle tunnel around the wick.

The "tunnel" that often forms around a wick isn't supposed to be there.


The evolution of candles from lighting necessity to scented ambience creator is kind of funny. For thousands of years, people relied on candles and oil lamps for light, but with the invention of the light bulb in 1879, fire was no longer needed for light. At that time, people were probably relieved to not have to set something on fire every time they wanted to see in the dark, and now here we are spending tons of money to do it just for funsies.

We love lighting candles for coziness and romance, relishing their warm, soft light as we shrink from the fluorescent bulb craze of the early 2000s. Many people use candles for adding scent to a room, and there are entire candle companies just for this purpose (Yankee Candles, anyone?). As of 2022, candles were an $11 billion business.

With their widespread use, you'd think we'd know a thing or two about candles, but as a thread on X makes clear, a whole bunch of us have been burning candles wrong our entire lives without knowing it.

Keep ReadingShow less
Canva

Take pleasure in little things when you're raising kids.

As a parent, it sometimes feels like you're supposed to be fueled entirely by selfless love and a "spiritual connection" to your children.

But you know what? You matter, too! And there's nothing wrong with needing a little soul-nourishment that doesn't end with you on your knees scrubbing barf out of the carpet.

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

Woman goes to huge lengths to adopt husband's ex-wife's baby to save him from foster care

She had lived in foster care and didn't want it for the newborn with no name.

Christie Werts and her son, Levi


Christie and Wesley Werts have taken the idea of a blended family to the next level. When the couple fell in love five years ago and married, they brought together her children, Megan and Vance, and his children, Austin and Dakota.

As of January, the Ohio family has five children after adopting young Levi, 2. Levi is the son of Wesley’s ex-wife, who passed away four days after the child was born. The ex-wife had the boy prematurely, at 33 weeks, and died soon after from drug addiction and complications of COVID-19.

When Levi was born, he was a ward of the state with no first name or birth certificate.

Keep ReadingShow less

Can a dog really trust you?

Dogs can smell fear, but can they sniff out the truth? Your dog might actually be smarter than you're giving it credit for. It turns out, dogs are pretty good at picking up on human behavior. Science says so. A team led by Akiko Takaoka of Kyoto University in Japan conducted a study which found out that dogs actually know if you're to be believed or not.

The study involved tricking dogs in the name of science. Humans have known for a long time that if you point at an object, a dog will run to it. Researchers utilized this information in their study. During the experiment, they pointed at a container that was filled with hidden food. Sure enough, the dog ran towards the container. Then, they pointed at a container that was empty. The dogs ran towards it, but found that it had no food.

Keep ReadingShow less

A public service announcement from St. John Ambulance

Have you listened to the miscellaneous voices of your miscellaneous items on the floor lately?

Oh yours don't speak? Well these do.

Keep ReadingShow less
Image via Amanda Ripley/PopTech.

Map demonstrating scores of the Program for International Student Assessment for each state compared to a country that has similar scores.




This is not news: America does pretty badly when it goes up against other countries academically.

This is true even if we take it one state at a time—no single state, no matter how wealthy or small, matches the top scoring countries. And yet, the U.S. spends more per student than many other countries in the world.

Keep ReadingShow less