… is one of the trickiest things to accomplish.
The way our culture sees “being thin” as some sort of Holy Grail everyone is supposed to achieve, the tragic assumption that our worth is directly related to how close we get to the promoted “ideal body” has turned into unquestioned “logic”.
The way every magazine is yelling WEIGHT-LOSS at us by selling us diet-pills, lifestyle-clean-eating-meal-plans, detoxes, “bootcamp fitness” and “poweryoga”, the other tragic assumption, namely that we have to make this “skinny” thing happen no matter what the cost, has turned into equally unquestioned “logic”.
The way only thin, mostly young, white females—who really only represent the tiniest fraction of the population—are represented in mass media (photoshopped, of course, for good measure), yet another tragic assumption has turned into fatally unquestioned “logic”: that our bodies are wrong the way they are.
Surprised that more than 90% of women are unhappy with their bodies?
Diet culture has made no one happy. Literally.
It makes me feel powerless and sad and angry to see how women seem to BOND over publicly shaming their own (and other people’s) bodies and comparing perceived “flaws” in their physique by engaging in this rampant, highly obnoxious trend to have all things weight-loss as the number one topic.
Please! Make! It! Stop!
Girls, let’s talk life, creativity, romance, philosophy, politics… ANYthing but the amount of calories you consumed.
The question remains: how the HECK does one recover from body-dysmorphia, disordered eating and that tenacious guilt around food in a society that clearly is in a full-blown body-crisis? When we’re told all around that we’re supposed to “love our bodies”, but—please!—only after we’ve finally made it to “fit and skinny”?
This whole dichotomy is sickening.
It has kept us in the ever draining circle of dieting, bingeing, overexercising and despair. For ever and ever. And ever. On autopilot.
We assume that we can’t be happy with more weight—since we never got to see any happy fat people, we assume that they all must be miserable and lonely.
But… wwwait a minute.
It’s ME who’s miserable and lonely!—In a body that looks healthy and skinny from the outside. Something’s clearly fishy here.
If you take away one line from this post, take this:
You CANNOT determine anyone’s level of “HAPPY” by their weight.
Who ends up being miserable, lonely and self-loathing are those of us who believe those toxic messages about weight-related lovability and happiness!
Take me: I am not plus-sized anymore. I have been a very “successful” dieter (read: a stubborn white-knuckling type A person who’s busy with that devil called “maintenance”). But all my trying SO hard to fit society’s skinny ideal hasn’t brought happiness any closer, in fact, it has thrown whatever remnants of happiness out and brought in obsessions, anxieties and rigidity. How sweet.
It’s almost three decades that I’ve been fighting to keep my weight down. I’ve developed strict food rules, started beating myself up for every—inevitable—loss of “control” and I’ve sacrificed many social occasions, the most part of my creativity, as well as my laid-back nature in order to exercise like an insane person. In short: I’ve started to believe that if I let go of some of that rigid control, I’d be fat in an instant and everybody would point their finger at me, ridiculing me for “failing”.
All that suffering. Just to fit in. To be accepted. To be loved.
A society like ours makes a healthy approach to food and exercise complicated and very scary. Yet recovery advice, of course, says to make exactly that top priority, contrary to what diet culture tells us to do: To learn to allow all the foods again. To eat when hungry. Not to restrict again. Not to engage in exercise as a way of punishment for eating. To let go of calorie counting. To throw out the scale. To let the body find its natural weight. To buy bigger pants… To start LOVING YOURSELF.
That’s freaking hard in an environment of diet-talk and fat-shaming!
That’s freaking hard with the clear memory in mind of how many people congratulated me on my diet-success and on my strict exercise discipline.
That’s freaking hard when all I see are weight-loss ads, photoshopped models, skinny celebrities and shows like “The Biggest Loser”.
Recovering from all this means to let go.
It means to let go of other people’s approval.
I might sound like a laughable coward, but some days it seems absurdly risky to believe that my body could be lovable when it doesn’t count as “perfect” or “superfit” anymore, when it’s chubby and soft.
But unless I believe that it is lovable in any form, I won’t be able to fully recover. I think that’s one of the reasons why so many people relapse in eating disorder recovery, and that’s why I see so much disordered eating in the women around me.
I see that the way out means being a badass and taking the harder way, and I admit, I’m scared! Because of this thin-crazed society we live in
NO ONE to congratulate me on my BRAVERY to rest instead of working out, when that’s what’s needed to get my period back.
NO ONE to congratulate me on my BRAVERY to gain weight instead of keeping on maintaining like a madwoman, when that’s what’s needed to become healthy, balanced and of sane mind, unafraid of eating and food.
If you can relate, let’s hold hands and remember: Society is messed up. We’re fine the way Mother Nature built us.
Ugh, it’s hard.