Body Love? A Journey of Acceptance, part 1
It's quite cliche at this point to hear the expression love the skin you're in or love yourself as you are. I see these idioms plastered on magazine covers as I wait in line at the grocery store. Yet alongside these catchy phrases are idealized women shown boasting body figures that contradict these very pretty and very empty words.
I don't believe I have a single female client that walks through my door who is comfortable with their bodies. In fact, most down right hate it, loathing the skin their in. Some of these women are overweight, some are average, some are underweight, yet they all have the same inner monologue, I'm not attractive, society values external beauty most... therefore, I'm not good enough, I’m unacceptable.
When I was in the seventh grade I had believed that I had figured something out, thin girls are popular. I hadn't been very overweight, just a pretty average body size. Yet, feeling like a social outcast, I wanted in and having a thinner body seemed like the best way to achieve acceptance. It was then I first began to starve my body to force it to fit in... yet, even more frightening... is that it worked. As my body shrank I began to enjoy the flavors of growing popularity and attention from boys whom, before, I would've only been able to wish to catch their glance. Unfortunately, an illogical belief of a seventh grade girl blossomed into many years of eating disordered hell.
Looking back, reflecting on my early teenage years, I feel not only sadness but frustration. What kind of society is this that, at any age, starvation seems like a logical method of achieving acceptance? Yet, the ideology that thin equates beauty and beauty equates acceptance looms as large today as ever, regardless of the little catchy cliches pasted on those magazines. I wish I could say that as I grew older my ideology changed, but it didn't... the eating disorder changed, and not for the better.
At twenty-five I found myself in Florida in an eating disorder treatment center. My life seemed like a surreal world of anxiety and bulimia. Nothing else. I was utterly lost. While grateful for the three months I spent there, relieving the severity of the disorder, I continued to wrestle with misconceived perceptions of beauty and a very unsavory view of my own body.
Fast forward thirteen years.
Last summer I thought I'm thirty-eight, I should be over food and body issues by now. While the severity of my past disordered eating days have yet to return, I had not found relief from society's pressure or from the prison of my own beliefs. Yet, in reality, I had met many women far beyond my years facing these very struggles and chanting the same mantras, I should be thinner, I should eat better, I should be more X, Y, and Z. In effect, I'm not good enough.
While I had touted the cry for many years I'm tired of living like this, I'm just accepting my body as it is, last summer I had finally had enough. Enough of wishing my body were different, enough of cutting out sugar or fat or dairy or whatever, enough of obsessing about how much to eat or getting fat or losing thin or a larger waist size... enough. I set about a mission to escape from it all and find freedom at last.
This journey will take some time to detail and continues today. I hope others will find it helpful to have insight into one woman’s continued journey to achieve entire self acceptance. I hope you’ll continue to read my next post, which I will publish shorty.