“I read it in the magazines, and I hear people talk about it, and you write it about too – and I GET it! I really do! But honestly, it feels like just one more thing to do, and it’s overwhelming! It feels so huge, and like I’ll never get there, and it’s just easier to go on another diet, Sandy.”
I felt her distress as I read that email from [Sue], and I thought I’d share my reply to her, here.
Yes, I completely get what you mean!
It sometimes seems like ‘better body image’ is the replacement for ‘do this diet’! And most of us have been on an endless cycle of dieting for most of our lives. With some of the weight loss companies starting to use the language of better body image in place of their diet messages – when they actually mean ‘lose weight’ – it is confusing. I think they’re deliberately creating that confusion, in fact, so that we’ll buy their weight loss programs as the solution.
What they’re actually saying to us is: when you lose weight, you will have better body image. And that’s completely untrue.
Think about yourself at your thinnest Sue – did you love your body, or did you still think there were parts of yourself that needed ‘fixing’?
Who told you these parts needed fixing? Was it your mother or another woman you love treating her own body or body parts like it needed fixing? Was it a magazine telling you that through a story about a favorite singer or actress? Was it something you saw on TV (probably lots of somethings!)
None of us arrive at the idea that our bodies are something we have to manage, fix, make perfect – like any other commodity – on our own.
Think of a little baby’s joy and fascination with her fingers, her toes, her knees, her own genitals, her mother’s nose, her hair. Think of her delight in crawling around and then learning to walk. There is not a thought in that little baby’s head that her body is in some way ‘not good enough’, to her it’s perfect and delightful!
And yet somewhere along the way, some studies are now telling us that it’s before she’s five years old, she’ll be saying she needs to lose weight even if her weight is perfectly average. For me, because I’m in my 40s, I was older before I started to think that, but before I started ‘controlling’ my weight I already knew my body was bloody ugly. I made that decision based on being called ‘Skinny’ by my family and my brothers jeering at my bony parts a few times. That in itself was not the issue, the issue was that other kids weren’t as boney as I was, and I learned to compare my body and find it less attractive, and learned that attractive was everything for a girl.
I hated that knowing, and I rebelled against it inside by being a tomboy but I felt ugly anyway. It was years before I became aware of the real lesson I learned:
You don’t take care of a body you think is ugly or ‘less’.
And you look for ways to fix that body’s problems in diet programs, pills, potions and lotions. You are persuadable because you truly feel like you are a problem.
I get it.
Thing is Sue, it’s your body, and you are completely responsible for it, you can choose what you do with it.
NO ONE has the right to tell you what you can and cannot do with your body. And your body is with you for life, so you could choose to get along with it even though it’s not ‘perfect’ in Official Body terms.
Is it easy? Not really, and there’s a lot of pressure to stay on the always-fixing path. After all their company profits depend on you feeling bad enough to spend your money on their stuff (that doesn’t even work).
Is it worth the effort? Absolutely yes!
I want to say that it’s not even about ‘having’ a good body image, it’s about feeling so comfy in your own skin that you don’t even think about how your body looks, you just enjoy wearing lovely things that suit your own unique size and shape, eating the stuff that your body enjoys and makes it feel good, and doing things that feel like fun. The effort of ‘managing’ your body goes away because you give your body the care and attention that you give to someone you love – you. It’s not about vanity, it is about treating yourself like someone you love.
Does that make sense?
And it really doesn’t have to be hard, Sue. You can stop worrying about your body, stop managing your body, stop comparing your body, in just a few HOURS.
If you like you can start with the Body Bliss 101 course right here on this site, it’s the fastest way I know of to start that shift away from always managing to just feeling love.
You will need a bit of support.
You might want to stop reading magazines etc for a while so that you can stop some of the messages that your body’s not good enough, or switch to reading magazines that are about being a woman with a whole full life, spend a few minutes at the magazine rack and find a magazine called Mind Food, or something similar. If you do the Body Bliss 101 course, hang out at the new forum as well, so we can support you too, as you make this change.
You will never, ever, look back, I promise.
Have you got a question you’d like Sandy to answer? Just click here and ask away.
What suggestions would you have for Sue? Please share them below.