Archives for Body Image
Our inner worlds are rich, vibrant, fertile. We sometimes forget this as we try to check off tasks, as we run around, as we focus on our full, busy lives. So it's understandable that we might not spend much time in self-reflection.
We fill ourselves with food. Food that we don't savor. Food that we barely even taste. We fill ourselves with alcohol. Too much alcohol. Parties. Endless gatherings and events. People who are critical, maybe even cruel. We fill ourselves with new clothes, new shoes, new trinkets, meaningless objects we don't need or even enjoy. And yet we still feel empty. Hollow. Depleted. Under-nourished. Maybe even starving or gasping for air.
You are fed up with bashing your body. With comparing it. With weighing it. With depriving it of food. With exercise that bores you or makes you feel like you did something wrong. Yes, the magazine recommended the workout. But wow it's really not your thing. You've decided to try a different approach: Tolerating your body. Maybe even liking it. Why not? you wonder. Hating it takes too much energy. Hating it takes too much time.
We may be going about our business, and we come across a coworker, parent, writer, blogger, maybe even a stranger who seems to have it all. Maybe we get sucked into their social media feed (for an hour or hours). Maybe we see them at the park or at a party. This someone who has the perfect life, the perfect body, the perfect wardrobe, the perfect partner, the perfect home, the perfect sense of humor, the perfect skills. This someone always knows what to say. They always know what to do. They rarely make mistakes.
Every year, on or around July 4th, I republish and update a piece on declaring our independence from what doesn’t serve or support us — everything from dieting to damaging beliefs. I hope you find it helpful! And I hope you have a wonderful holiday or Monday. Today, we celebrate our independence here in America. But wherever you live, it also might be the day you celebrate your independence, too.
You ate a bowl of ice cream. The full fat kind. Maybe, you even ate two bowls. Please don't punish yourself with cruel words. You are disgusting. You have no willpower. Please don't drown yourself in shame, blame and regret. I can't believe I did this. I'm the only one who can't control herself around food. This is humiliating.
For so many of us weighing less not only becomes a goal we strive for. It also becomes intertwined with all sorts of things. Our self-worth. ("I am only worthy if I lose weight. I'm terrible, unlikeable, unloveable, _______ if I don't lose anything, or worse, if I gain and gain.") Our lives. We assume it gives us meaning. Fulfillment. And we pursue weight loss with the same passion, perseverance and all-in attitude that we might devote to something else. Like a relationship. Like writing. Like learning another craft.
We think we need to make big earth-shattering decisions to build meaningful lives, to make positive changes. And sometimes that's true. Sometimes that might mean moving to a new city, getting a new job, starting a new academic program, ending a toxic relationship. But often the smallest steps can be surprisingly powerful. Plus, sometimes, we assume that it's either "go big or go home." And, because we feel overwhelmed, we go home. We feel paralyzed. And we don't do anything.
I just penned a piece for our main blog about being ourselves, what this really means and what it really looks like. One of the psychologists I interviewed shared this story with me: A young man was deeply ashamed about his enormous debt from student loans and credit cards. He didn't want anyone to know, including his friends, because he feared that they would judge and exclude him.