I have been trying to start writing about Body Image. But every time I start, something stops me.
I think it is because I am afraid to sound too lovey- dovey, and I am afraid to alienate male readers when I start talking about women loving themselves. I am also afraid to alienate bigger women readers when I talk about difficulty accepting an extra 5-10 lbs. But most of all, I am afraid I am not worthy to talk about a subject in which I am only half-way healed.
So what to do?
Can I instead open up a dialogue? Ask some questions and get some answers, and also get some questions in return?
Because, if there is one thing I am sure of, healing your relationship with food alone isn’t going to help your life if you still senselessly hate your body.
There is no good in hating your body. Though, sifting through the many beliefs and feelings surrounding our own Body Image is much easier said than done.
Hating your body is debilitating, depressing and … truly…. arbitrary. Shaped by the media, unhelpful perfectionism, our brainwashed cultural preference for thin, and fear of the “perils of fat”. Yet it can have the power to control so many of our thoughts and feelings about ourselves.
Why Are Women So Judgemental
Readers wrote in subjects for my podcast, and many people wanted to talk about Body Image. And since the podcast project is on the back burner for a little while longer, I want to start the discussion now. One reader, Susie, wrote: “Why are Women so judgmental of their own and other women’s bodies? Like, “Oh look at her butt!”
My thoughts? I think we are mean to ourselves because we have it ingrained in us that we must be beautiful and slim to be appropriate and desirable and controlled. And the idea to us that we could accept our imperfect selves and bodies seems foolish and weak, so we think that constant disapproval is the answer to whip us into shape. And we are cruelly judgmental of others because it makes us feel like at least we aren’t the worst ones. At least we aren’t as big as her. At least we are able to control xyz and be good enough to be abc even though we aren’t quite good enough to be 123. Oh God, it sounds like its going into a song. But of course none of these things help. And it just digs us deeper down into the hole of projected perfectionism and starts to alienate us from other people.
UGH, there are so many many more things to say on this topic. And it is so very complicated and difficult to mull through. But it is necessary. This is just the beginning of the dialogue, and I intend it to go a lot further.
It has opened up my eyes to more of the Health at Every Size movement, as well as helping me see that fat is not the health hazard people and the media pin it as. It is the guilt and the self-destructive habits that are actually the health problems.
Fat acceptance, even though I am not technically “fat”, has been very helpful for me. Because the way I was treating myself was like scum. The authors argue eloquently why it is essential that fat women (and men) treat themselves wonderfully. And I have been able to apply their lessons to myself, and also start to change the way I see other people.
The Thin Fantasy Exercise
Write out all the things you tell yourself you’ll do “when you’re thin (or fit)”. Write out all the ways you’ll be. Write out that awesome person you are expecting to be when you finally aren’t afraid of food, and eating intuitively and are wonderfully, beautifully, acceptably, perfectly and enviably slim. (notice any sarcasm? yet I DO still catch myself thinking this way).
Write it all out. How you’ll look. How you’ll feel. What you’ll do. What you’ll say. Get specific. Write the drink you’ll order at Starbucks and the shoes you’ll wear and what people will think when they see you walking down the street.
Now read it, and circle all the things you can do, think and be right now.
And then, fucking BE IT. Because that’s what you want more than being whatever you consider a “perfect body”. You think the perfect body will bring you these things. So start with the things, and let the body work what it will.