Body Image Discussion
After a really bad break-up of my first marriage that sent me into a dark spiral of ego shattering proportions, I started back to school as I was broke! I worked full-time, went to school full-time and studied the rest of the time. I had very little time for sleep or a social life. During those years, I had a terrible diet and zero time for exercise. After graduating nursing school, I’d gotten used to the break-neck pace, so I worked two jobs. It was a way to keep busy so I didn’t have to deal with a lot of issues. I just pushed all my baggage into a dark corner and left it there, rotting.
As a result, I had issues that needed to be dealt with. I must tell you right now that the hardest work you will ever do is clean up your own emotional mess. Why? Because you have to take an inward look as to what role you played in the outcome. I spent a lot of time being angry with my ex-spouse because of all the things I didn’t get accomplished by the time I thought I would accomplish them. So I got a therapist. A really great one! I have to tell you that she was no joke. She didn’t allow playing the victim even when it came to the toughest issues. She would always want to know what role I played in my own sabotage. Those were difficult sessions, but I got through them and I learned that she was mostly always right. Okay, Okay, she was always right.
Over time, I have come to strongly believed that spiritual and emotional well-being are just as important as physical well-being. And I believe without the three working together, the emotional/spiritual can cripple the physical.
A few weeks ago, The Dane and I went to the bookstore. We normally only do that in the winter, but we are making more of an effort to turn off the TV and spend time reading. Besides, I like checking to see if there are more body positive messages on the magazine rack. Interestingly, this time, there was one on a fitness magazine. I thought the girl on the cover was very beautiful. I picked up the issue and tucked it into my basket and moved on. I looked at things here and there, coming to the best sellers last. On display was a book with the girl from the fitness magazine on the cover. “I do it with the Lights On” by Whitney Way Thore. I didn’t know her, but it made me curious to see her twice so close together, so I picked up the book. I flipped through a few pages and immediately became engrossed in her story. In our bookstore, there’s a coffee shop where you can peruse the books and magazines before you buy them. The Dane was still off shopping. I was almost finished with chapter one when he tapped me on the shoulder and asked, “Are you getting those?” Oh yeah!
While reading the book, it started dawning on me that her book was about the issue that I have been struggling with putting my finger on. It’s an inner view of what it’s like to be on the inside of an over-weight body looking out. There were a lot of eye-opening moments for me. Whitney suffered a lot of insults from early on and took on a lot of verbal abuse when she moved to Korea. Overall, I found her book very thought-provoking which ended with me revisiting parts of my life. As I thought back, I can tell you that I have never suffered the types of disturbing taunts that she suffered. To my knowledge, no one has ever gone out of their way to physically hurt me because I’m overweight.
This got me to thing about an episode of GoldMind that my husband and I watched together. In this episode, Haim has a lady stand in a shop window display and think negative things about herself. Outside, passersby were encouraged to write words on the window that they were thinking about the woman. When she thought negative things, the people wrote horrible things. Then Haim had her think positive thoughts about herself. Again the passersby were encouraged to write things and this time they wrote very positive messages. I think about this episode a lot and I experiment in real life. What I find is that when I think negative things about myself or if I’m doubtful, I get terrible service or bumped into accidentally in a store aisle. If I think positive thoughts, I get positive things in return. Don’t believe it, try it for yourself and see how it works out. For me, it’s been a real eye-opening experience.
It wasn’t until I read Whitney Way Thore’s book that I realized that she had a TV show. I’ve since taped a few episodes and watched one of them. In the episode that I watched, Whitney returns to her Alma Mater for a speech. During the Q&A session, a male student gets up to ask her if being her size and loving her body is promoting an unhealthy lifestyle. She was gobsmaked and couldn’t think how to answer his question. In the moments between the end of his question and her stumble through answer, I felt a lot of emotion. I wanted so much to put words in her mouth. I wanted to tell her about the episode of GoldMind and to have her challenge the audience with the task of trying it out.
For me, a good answer to this question is what’s missing in the whole body-positivity movement. I want to shout out loud, it’s not about promoting obesity. It’s about a mindset of loving yourself no mater what size you are and beyond that, no matter what you look like. Promoting a body-positive message is about being kind to yourself.
The diet industry is filled with fad diets that don’t work (and why would they, the idea is to make money. Who can make money if the diet works on everyone the first time around?). So, why don’t we try something novel? Why don’t we try to love ourselves and be positive going through our lives. Hell, even if you don’t lose weight that way, you’ll at least be a happy person. Right?
As a side note, I’d like to add a few thoughts on Whitney’s show. I cannot imagine how hard it is to be in the limelight in a very real and personal way. To do it without all the makeup, plastic surgery – just putting it all out there has to be a very hard thing to do. To have issues and then have everybody and their mother comment on the innermost details of your life…and to have an issue that so easily provokes the nastiest of nasty comments is just more than I would want for myself. I commend Whitney for being a pioneer in bringing this particular issue to surface. I wish her much success and extreme happiness!
I’d also like to recommend another book if you’re interested (particularly Chapter 5): Feeling Good about the Way You Look by Sabine Wilhelm, PhD
I thought I’d try an experiment. Take a look at these two picture and tell me the thoughts that come to mind with picture A and picture B. (BTW: In B, that’s Chicka)