The pursuit of thinness narrows our lives; it forces us to focus on scarcity, on what we don’t supposedly have, on how we’re supposedly flawed and limited.
This reminds me of what Golda Poretsky of Body Love Wellness writes in her book Stop Dieting Now! 25 Reasons to Stop, 25 Ways to Heal. She explains that dieting creates a notion of lack and the scarcity spreads to our entire lives, not just eating. She writes:
Diets work on a scarcity principle. Diets make dieters focus on lack, tell them they can only have “this much and no more” and that to want more is a bad thing. Because dieting is so all-encompassing, this scarcity principle often filters into other aspects of dieters’ lives. They begin to see lack and scarcity in their relationships, in their jobs and in the world.
Focusing on abundance, on possibilities, on there being enough for everyone, is a very powerful framework for feeling good about one’s life. I often find that when my clients start focusing on what is good about their lives, that sense of happiness – and indeed, those good things themselves – continue to grow. Alternatively, when they focus on what is wrong in their lives, and on what they can’t have, their worldview and happiness, continue to shrink.
And when our perspectives and thereby our lives shrink, we’re less able to focus on what truly matters.
Blogger and author Sui Solitaire of Cynosure recently wrote the e-book The Thing About Thin, where she shares her own struggles with body image and disordered eating and encourages readers to go beyond the desire for thinness to focus on what truly matters: your dreams and contributions.
In part one of our interview, we talk about what inspired her to write The Thing about Thin and why pursuing thinness stands in the way of following our dreams. Stay tuned tomorrow for part two!
Q: Why does a focus on thinness keep us from fulfilling our dreams?
A: Because, simply put: what we look like doesn’t matter. At all. The way our bodies look are not us; how much we put on make-up or shave is not us; our shapes, our sizes, are not us!
And this obsession with the “better” or “ideal” body is destructive not only because it drives us to hurt ourselves and our bodies, but because it simply takes away our time from what’s really important in life.
The book centers, really, around one question: What matters?
What’s more important: adhering to society’s incredibly unrealistic standards of the “perfect” body, or living a full and complete life, contributing to the world, doing what we love?
The time we waste obsessing about our bodies is time truly wasted. Obsessing about dieting, make-up, overexercising… it’s all sad, sad waste of our precious life, and it’s created by a culture that prioritizes (specifically female) starvation over nourishment, starvation of female power.
We can reclaim that power by going after our dreams. By saying fuck this to all the bullshit, and truly doing what we LOVE.
What makes you feel more alive: following your dreams, or destroying your body?
Q: What inspired you to write “The Thing About Thin”?
A: It was May 2011 and I was wondering why I seemed to be relapsing. I was binging all the time. After reading an inspiring book called The War of Art (Steven Pressfield), I realized that a lot of the time, I binged because it was my way of procrastinating and doing absolutely nothing with my life (heh). Almost every time I’ve binged since for the most part recovering, it’s been out of idleness and creative dry periods.
Around the same time Holly Orr published this post. It set me off at first, especially since my work is in self-love and happiness– or so I thought. I came back to it over and over and allowed it to challenge me. Eventually, I realized that she was absolutely correct. Learning to love yourself (and your body) is only a means– it is not an end, in and of itself.
Okay, so you know how to love yourself. Now what?
That was another reason why I had started binging again. I thought: “I’m over all of this now. There’s no more work to do.” But I realized I wasn’t following my dreams. That May was actually when I decided to make the work I did on cynosure my livelihood, regardless of how much blood sweat and tears I’d shed.
I had my 3rd big epiphany: self-love is essential not just because it makes us feel good, but because it enables us to give to others. When we can give to ourselves, we can give to the world.
But I still saw that a lot of us were getting caught up in this myth of thin and what it can do for us. I wanted to wake people up. I wanted to shake them (very, very gently, of course!) and say– Hey. Your body is beautiful. We need to focus on more important things than our appearances, or we– especially women– will continue to be oppressed by a mass consumerist society that profits off of our self-hatred.
I know this: I’m much, much happier doing work that I love, taking care of my body and feeding it well, and respecting myself, than I ever was when my mind was tortured by thoughts of what I believed “thin” would give me.
More about Sui:
Sui Solitaire creates, writes, and captures. She shares her journey on cynosure and helps warriors and revolutionaries love themselves and their bodies more so they can do the work that really matters. She also writes fiction and photographs the love she sees in the world, among many other things. She enjoys being herself, public transportation, and looking stupid in public. She is grateful to be alive, and she loves you. Receive letters from her in your inbox and get your dose of love and inspiration via cynosure. You can also say hi on Google+.
Do you think the desire for thinness stands in the way of dreams? How? What are your dreams?
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Last reviewed: 16 Feb 2012