I had a lovely friend approach me today about my last blog post where I talk about the time (years) when I avoided looking at my body in the mirror. She was shocked that this was the case. She told me she thinks I’m extremely attractive (aw shucks), so she was surprised by what I wrote.
We talked for a while, trading stories of body image and our first-hand knowledge that attaining a lower weight had not, for us individually, magically created a healthy body image. We digested the stats, that 90% of women are dissatisfied with the shape of their bodies, that up to 50% of women are on a diet at any given moment, that the average woman spends 31 years of her life on a diet, that women – when provided with silhouettes of body types – consistently choose shapes that are larger than they are.
It didn’t take me long to convince her that my body image problem was, at least to some degree, independent of my former body shape problem. In fact, I saw her get it within the first sentence of my response. She got it because she knows, as I think many women do, that for many there is no reshaping of the body that’s going to be adequate. I’ve experienced this many times, reaching (or at least nearing) a weight goal and still only seeing the flaws, setting yet another goal toward recapturing my only minimally adolescent body.
You see that’s the secret that the diet industry won’t tell you. The weight loss that you do or don’t experience using their miracle method will never be enough. It will never be enough because you are not, nor will you ever again be, as minimally adolescent as our beauty standards. It will never be enough because your eyes have for far too long only seen what’s wrong. It will never be enough because if you don’t like yourself, changing the shape of your body will only give you one less distraction from THAT problem. When faced with the prospect of learning to love ourselves for who we are, maybe choosing to focus on the number that comes up on the scale seems easier. I can see how that could be, but I’m here to tell you it’s nowhere near as satisfying. And here’s the real secret, when you sort out THAT stuff, when you find a way to love yourself TODAY, you and your body are going to find a new shape together that you love and you won’t need a single calorie counter to do that.
Now, as for that woman over there who you think is amazing, you think she’s got it all sorted out and heck, in your less generous moments you may even think she ACTS like she thinks she’s got it all sorted out (the nerve), remember that the chances are REAL good she’s hurting too. How would our lives as a clan of women change if we saw THAT instead of the bad in ourselves and the good in others? What if we remembered that the truths and untruths that make up our private prisons have bricks from the same pile as hers, and how she feels about herself has nothing to do with what you see? It’s what’s in her head. Be kind. Tell her what you admire about her; mean it. Then look in the mirror and do the same thing for yourself. You’ll be glad you did.
P.S. If you want some help with that learning to love yourself bit, or you want to see if I’m right that you can actually change your body with self love instead of discipline and willpower, check out my BARE program. It’s superb.