I bet you thought I was going to shout that….. I really wanted to!
My second scream would have been BEAUTIFUL! 🙂
Actually…. I should have named this “Who we are” but I had the chance to give a PSU shout out…. so I took it! If you’re an ohio state fan (note, you’re not even worth capital letters), well…. then I’m just sorry for you! [that’s my trash talking for the day] 🙂
You know, I wanted this blog to NOT be a place for a rant and more about what I’m learning along this journey (and to help you all understand eating disorders better)…… but I make up the rules….. so here goes. 🙂
I want to know why we all (many women) fall into this black hole of hating our bodies? We are not born hating how we look, and we are not told to hate how we look, we just end up that way. [Note – I’m not speaking and saying that we all hate how we look – I’m speaking about the group of women who are not happy about how they look, and they work to make changes, so when you hear me say “women” in this post I am not generalizing to say everyone – I’m speaking about the large group who is unhappy with body image]
Society plays a large role in how we feel about how we look. That is obvious. It’s quite frustrating that they push for beautiful to be “tall, thin and emaciated” when the average American is somewhere between a size 10-14 that is beautiful. We are all aware that these women in the fashion magazines are airbrushed and made to look thinner – (I will repost some of what was in a previous post so it could look slightly familiar at times).
So many of us get sucked into hating our bodies and wanting something different? Why? It’s okay to love the one we are in! Do I love the one I’m in? Not yet…. I’m trying…. Damn hard, but still trying!!! But it’s okay to do that. I’m so sick of getting on Pinterest and Facbook and reading about how people “have” to work out and how they “have” to diet and cut back foods they like because bathing suit season is coming. How about work out because you want to! Or run because you like it! Or do p90x because it’s an awesome challenge! We spend so much time torturing our bodies and putting ourselves through hell (while hating every minute of it) to achieve a body to show other people that won’t make us happy. First I could probably rant for 30 minutes on the fact that Beth (my friendly dietitian) has taught me that cutting lipids from your diet will not help you lose weight… we all think if we go “low fat” on everything and if it all tastes like cardboard we are doing well…. not the case my friends! You may not believe me, and you’ll still grab for that low fat dressing, but I’m pretty sure Beth is right (don’t tell her I said that!). In all reality, people are not judging you like you are judging yourself. They are not looking at you in a bathing suit and saying “wow, she needs to work out”…. They are so focused on how they look that they don’t have time to judge you! Now, I can totally claim a lot of this because this is part of the basis of my eating disorder. I am at a healthy weight and unhappy with my body (working on it!!!) and I was at an unhealthy low weight and unhappy with my body. The problem is not our weight! The problem is the way we see ourselves! We need to change the way we see, not the way we look. We need to look at what’s beautiful in us, and who we are that makes us beautiful ….. and it’s not just the exterior.
If I ruled the world….. I would make major changes in society. I know this isn’t possible, but I really like to believe that it is! I was shopping with my husband last night for all the great foods that fit into my meal plan and I went to the checkout line and wanted to scream. First, walking through a grocery store is overwhelming enough with all of the food options “thrown in your face,” but when you get to the checkout line and you see the magazines, knowing that summer is around the corner, and we see all the airbrushed models and celebrities, it can make your day go from “heck yeah!” to “hell no!” really fast! As I pulled my cart of yogurt to the register (literally…. I’m working on variety here!), I saw a magazine giving tips on the weight loss secrets of our stars who are all OBVIOUSLY underweight! I can claim they are underweight because when I looked like them, people sent me to treatment and made me gain weight (that gives me the power to make claims like that! Not really, but I can say what I want…. Because this is my blog! Haha). Truthfully, bodies like that are unobtainable and they are not the norm! We are so focused on how we look, that we forget everything else that makes us happy! If we are so focused on getting this “beach body” we will forget to live in the moment at the beach! We will forget to enjoy watching our children/nieces/nephews playing in the waves and sand and forget how fun it is to walk the board walk because all we think that defines us is our body.
Looking at these airbrushed “beautiful” bodies I have come to realize that our society has a long way to go. It’s really hard to look away from the pressures of society and try to “be yourself” because all we see is what society wants on the outside. We can all rationally understand that magazines are airbrushed! (if you haven’t been told so… they are…. See the pictures below) So why do we still long to look like them when they don’t even look like that??!!! My short answer…. Is we are insecure and we have low self-esteem (OH NO, SHE SAID IT!). Nobody wants to admit that! I was the bubbly teacher that could make everyone laugh and it was shock for anyone to find out that I felt “worthless” or had “low self-esteem”… but the problems usually go deeper than how you look at yourself.
As I entered treatment last year I wanted to know why I had this eating disorder – I wanted to find the smoking gun. I wanted to know why I hated and was afraid of food and why I had to keep starving and losing weight. I have been fortunate to have some of the best doctors and professionals on my treatment team and I am understanding this disorder more and more each day. I am starting to see that there are many factors playing a role. The pressure of society does not help the process of recovery. The idea of body image and self-acceptance is difficult and the last to come through this whole process. Even though this isn’t the “cause” of these disorders, it still plays a large role. I know I’m not the only person who has trouble with this – many women walk around their entire life hating their body, and this is not okay!
Each time I think about how wrong our society has it, I think back to the Fiji article I discussed while in treatment. You can read the article here. This was so disturbing to me! When we think of Fiji we think of a place we all want to go to retreat and be away from the world we live. It is amazing to me that women especially, Fijians “appreciate large, robust bodies.” When I read this I fell in love with the fact that somewhere out there women love who they are! (I can’t wait for the day that I love my body!) Until I read further and realized our Western culture was brought to them through TV in 1995 (before they barely had electricity) and they began to “think of themselves as poor and fat,” and “got the idea they could resculpt their lives” stating “I want their [thin] bodies.” The results of this article were startling. “In 1995, without television, girls in Fiji appeared to be free of the eating disorders common in the West. But by 1998, after just a few years of sexy soap operas and seductive commercials, 11.3 percent of adolescent girls reported they at least once had purged to lose weight.”
It’s terrible to think that after just a few years of our Western culture being exposed to a culture that never had disordered eating they are now left with young girls with disordered eating patterns. By the time they interviewed young girls they showed that 45% of young girls had disordered behaviors. To me, this is not acceptable.
The hardest part of all of this is that we can’t change society and what they think is beautiful. I am coming to learn that the only thing we can do is change the way we see ourselves and how we measure our own worth. It’s very hard when we see so many messages every day that shout what “perfection” looks like, but truthfully…. What is perfection? What do you measure perfection against? Everyone’s definition of perfection is so very different, so this “perfection” I was striving for is simply unattainable.
An eating disorder website spells it out perfectly:
“Images on T.V. spend countless hours telling us to lose weight, be thin and beautiful, buy more stuff because people will like us and we’ll be better people for it. Programming on the tube rarely depicts men and women with “average” body-types or crappy clothes, ingraining in the back of all our minds that this is the type of life we want. Overweight characters are typically portrayed as lazy, the one with no friends, or “the bad guy”, while thin women and pumped-up men are the successful, popular, sexy and powerful ones. How can we tell our children that it’s what’s inside that counts, when the media continuously contradicts this message?”
Supermodels are getting thinner and thinner and the emaciated look is becoming increasingly popular. Growing up, I remember hating any part of my womanly figure and wanting a flat chest and hating any curve that was being created. I didn’t want it to change because if I was thin and sleek I was faster and more put together – just better and more successful!. When people laughed at how small my chest was I knew deep down that I was still on track with maintaining my young girlish and thin figure (sad, I know). Over all, I’m finding that the more we learn to love ourselves and the more we help others to love who they are, we are able to spread the message that defies what society promotes.
I have this quote that I read daily for recovery:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others”
Be who you are! Are others really worried about what you think? At the end of the day, do you really care what those others will think of you? Their opinion is their opinion and it can’t be changed. The most beautiful thing about a woman is confidence!!!
Before I end this, I have to give a web “shout out” to the European fashion field for putting a stop to allowing models on the runway when their body fat percentage was too low (or dangerous). Everyone’s body is different, but we are all the same in one way – when we are too thin, we don’t have enough fat on our body to sustain life (or get pregnant) and if your BMI (fat %) is too low, you lose your period. All my life I thought this was a good thing (who wants to deal with that “friend”), but what I didn’t realize is that I was harming my bones and it was a serious sign shouting at me that I’m not healthy. In Europe if women did not have a high enough fat % they did not run the catwalk – this was one of the first times that a society has fought back to say health does matter! Thanks for that!
So, as loud as I can type — I’m going to give a web scream and say –
CHANGE THE WAY YOU SEE, NOT THE WAY YOU LOOK.
You’re wrong…. I am beautiful!
As I end this I challenge you to think about 5 things that you love/like about yourself. It can be anything!!!! It’s hard to start loving yourself and then loving the body you are in…. so you can start with any of your strengths! I bet you can come up with 5.
I’m kind of shocked that I can come up with some. Here are some:
- I love that I’m funny – humor is so much fun!
- I love to give hugs!
- I love to help other people.
- I love when I realize how strong I am physically and mentally.
- I love that I am obsessed with my poodles … haha (they’re cute, you would be too!)