{Photo Credit: Jeffrey Seeds}

Today, I’m super excited to present my interview with the wise and inspiring Kim Brittingham, author of the beautifully written memoir Read My Hips: How I Learned to Love My Body, Ditch Dieting and Live Large. I loved this book and highly recommend it. (You can learn more about the book here.)

Below, in part one of our interview, Kim talks about finding self-acceptance, redefining the idea of the “fantasy you” and much more!

Check out more about Kim and her other writing on her website and blog.

By the way, because I enjoyed Read My Hips so much and because I’m so thankful to all of you for reading Weightless and leaving such thoughtful comments, I’m giving away one copy of the book! (I’ll be buying the book from Amazon.)

I’ll pick a winner randomly and make the announcement next Wednesday (last time to comment will be Tuesday, 12 a.m. EST). To be eligible to win, just share one of your favorite body image tips, how you found self-acceptance or a favorite part of my interview with Kim.

Q: What inspired you to write Read My Hips?

A: It wasn’t my plan to write a book about dieting and body image, actually.  I’d written an entirely different memoir.  But when I met my agent, she pointed out that every time I published an essay online about weight-related issues, I got a hugely positive response.

It was her suggestion to build an entire book around those essays, so I did.  And you know, I’m glad I did.  Just this past weekend, I noted that the top three bestselling books were diet books.

People are clearly still investing their hopes in diets, and I think that’s a big mistake.  Dieting caused me to gain weight. A lot of it.  And it helped foster a dysfunctional relationship between me and food.

Q: In the book you talk about dreaming of the “fantasy you,” which among other things meant being thin. You also mention feeling invincible when sticking to a stringent diet. (So many of us have been there!) What would you say was your wake-up moment where you realized that you didn’t want to diet and strive for weight loss anymore?

A: There was definitely a point when I fully understood that whatever I believed thinness would bring to my life – love, belonging, passion, self-satisfaction – it could be achieved no matter what the size and shape of my body.

In Read My Hips I wrote about a true anecdote involving Marilyn Monroe, in which she was able to walk on the streets of New York City completely unrecognized – until she changed the way she carried herself.  She altered her walk and her posture, and people instantly flocked to her.  I experimented with that myself, in Philadelphia where I was living in my early 20s.

When I carried myself with confidence – even faked confidence — it dramatically changed the way people reacted to me.  And that led me to experiment with my daydreams, too.

For the first time, I allowed my “fantasy me” to have the same physical attributes as the real me.  When I dared to imagine myself living the life I wanted just the way I was, it revolutionized the way I lived.

Q: You talk about finding radical self-acceptance, and that it was a process for you. Can you elaborate on how you slowly started accepting yourself?

A: Self-acceptance definitely wasn’t an overnight phenomenon for me.  There were lots of little components that had a cumulative effect.  Allowing myself to imagine me with a fantastic life at any size was helpful, but I also got a lot out of posing for myself in my underwear!

I did it in my apartment, using the timer on my digital camera.  I looked at myself in those pictures completely without judgment.  I’m not saying that was easy.  It required imagination.  But I reminded myself that, in the grand scheme of the universe, there really was no right or wrong way to look.

And “ugly” is just a random value our society has placed on things like cellulite or flabby upper arms.  If you were raised to believe those things were qualities of great beauty, you wouldn’t know otherwise.

I also grew by leaps and bounds when I started doing exhilarating things I’d always wanted to do, not hesitating because of how I looked. Here’s what that did for me: it made me value my experience of the world over how other people were experiencing me.

So for example, I started spending a lot more time in the ocean and on the beach, and when I completely got into it and abandoned any thoughts of what other people were thinking about me in my swimsuit, it became the most delicious, fulfilling, sensual experience.  Too valuable to let it be ruined by some jerky, judgmental person’s thoughts about my appearance.

Also, I lost a couple of friends who were quite young.  They passed away before 40.  And I can’t help thinking, if they’d each been given a respite from their illness and been granted just one more week to live, I really don’t think they’d have given a crap about their back fat or their muffin tops.

I think they would’ve run towards experience.  Towards the things they’d no longer be able to do without a physical body.  Flying a propeller plane, scuba diving, embracing the ones they love, napping in a field of lavender, going to an open mike and doing stand-up.

Q: You share several stories of how your parents focused on thinness and dieting. For instance, your mom created charts for your family to track your exercise and made you get up an hour before school to run with your dad. Sometimes, after you’d have a second helping of food, your parents would warn that you’d end up like your fat aunt Phyllis. Clearly, this had a major impact on your body image and self-image. What would you like parents to know about raising kids with a healthy body image?

A: Mainstream media doesn’t truly support physical diversity, so parents need to make up for that at home.  We see the same narrow range of physical qualities consistently defined as beautiful on television, in movies and magazines. One result of that is a nation of young girls who feel ugly and freakish.

In the introduction of Read My Hips, there’s a photograph of me when I was fifteen.  It’s kind of shocking, because it represents a body I was convinced was deformed.  I believed my hips were outlandishly disproportionate to the rest of my body, and I doctored the picture to see what I’d look like with a “normal” body.

But there was nothing wrong with the girl in the picture.  What I experienced is called body dysmorphia.  It seems extreme, but it’s become so commonplace among young girls today.

Parents need to remind their daughters what’s real.  Diversity of body types is real, and that diversity itself is beautiful.

A good analogy is a flower garden. A daisy is much different from an amaryllis, but they’re both beautiful.  Most people have a favorite flower – we’re not all attracted to the same shades and forms. Often we don’t know why one kind of flower grabs us more than others.  And when we do have a favorite, we can still appreciate other types of flowers.

Stay tuned tomorrow for part two of my interview with Kim!

And don’t forget to leave a comment on this post to be eligible to win a copy of Read My Hips! All you have to do is share either how you found self-acceptance, one of your favorite body image tips or a favorite part of this interview.

Thanks! :)

 


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    Last reviewed: 17 Aug 2011

APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2011). How One Author Learned To Love Her Body & A Giveaway!. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 15, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/weightless/2011/08/how-one-author-learned-to-love-her-body-a-giveaway/

 

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