I have been thinking about this post for months before attempting to put fingers to keys and pound out some meaningful, uplifting words about accepting myself for what I look like, instead of berating myself or promising myself I will look better someday by harnessing my will power properly. Or stopping eating foods I know are ‘bad’ for me. Or focusing more on the goal of wellness. Chemicals and preservatives sometimes taste good but they are false idols that keep me from accomplishing an epiphany and being above all appearance judging. So I will stop eating these, not weigh myself or judge myself or think about what I look like. I will bury myself in the goal of achieving perfect health. I will then look great, but not care about what I look like. Because that’s not what this is about, right? It’s about having such a healthy body image and such amazing self-worth, that I am above thinking about what I look like (even though I will look great because I have both of these things). How was that? Does that just about sum up the veritable deluge of information we are fed every day?
Also, I will buy local and so become a Locavore, eschew evil sugar (even brown sugar and honey are bad for you and addicting), dairy (yes, even butter – it’s for the greater good), meats, and gluten. And probably caffeine, because it allegedly alters personality.
I shall wear only natural fibers, and contrary to what evil marketers will tell you, bamboo doesn’t count, with natural dyes (so I don’t develop multiple sclerosis when I get older), oh! and I won’t forget to floss my teeth so my gums don’t expel my teeth at age 45.
I am proud of my body for having produced two perfectly healthy children who will grow up and continue to make me proud. I have fairly good stamina and coordination. I can hold my own on a bike ride and I am energetic enough to walk my 75 pound dog two times a day, work full time, bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan. My husband thinks I’m the hottest thing on two legs.
Food is a pleasure, a gesture of love, and the setting around which family traditions, bonds, and holidays are formed. So how can I believe food is the enemy? Frankly, I don’t think bread and potatoes with butter, food that has sustained my people for hundreds of years, is bad for me. And no amount of brain washing or fat shaming is going to change my mindset.
Dieting doesn’t work, that’s what we’re told now. So to lose weight and be healthier, we are supposed to eat what our body tells us it needs. Sometimes my body needs raw cookie dough. Actually that’s not true, it’s my brain that needs it. But that’s part of my body. And if I satisfy my brain, won’t it be sated, and then start craving salad with no dressing? That’s the theory of some writers, specifically Geneen Roth. I have read two of her books, in which she expounds on her theory of treating yourself with kindness as if you are a small child. Denying yourself a certain food will cause you to perseverate on said food and rebel by eating lots of it, eventually.
Because I’m a mother, I also have to be aware of how my self-image affects my children, especially my daughters (I have a blended family, with 5 children all together). So I don’t say negative things about myself out loud. One day a few years ago, my youngest son, 8 at the time, suggested I not wear a bathing suit (I was wearing one at the time) because my legs were fat. I replied that my body is beautiful and strong, having produced perfectly healthy children. He acted like my response was a good one.
A small anecdote about my recent trip to Paris, a city I love and have visited many times:
During our trip, I fell down a set of stairs and broke my ankle. After I returned from hospital back to our apartment, I learned how to negotiate walking using my crutches. My Mom, trying to be helpful, said I would probably lose a lot of weight because walking with crutches is so taxing. I could lose 40 pounds, she said. I replied that I don’t want to lose 40 pounds. Is this the truth? Sometimes it is. But I’m not above wanting to look attractive in the way I define attractive.
My daughters are particularly beautiful, and many strangers comment on it. One person suggested my youngest should be a model. I quickly replied that with her smarts she is meant for bigger and better things than that, and that models are terribly insecure and unhappy. Maybe if I say these words enough in her presence, they will be tattooed on her brain? There’s your happy ending – I am determined to break the cycle of negative self-talk, in terms of body image and self-worth.