Why I Want to Punch Body Shaming Right in the Face!
“…your body is sacred. I wish I could tell every young girl with an eating disorder, or who has harmed herself in any way, that she’s worthy of life and that her life has meaning. You can overcome and get through anything.” – Demi Lovato
One of the greatest experiences I could have asked for in the beginning of my career as a mental health therapist was having had the privilege of treating those struggling with eating disorders. More often than not, I began finding myself offering to clients similar words as the quote printed above. Having personally experienced both sides of the body image continuum and tasting what it is like to go from living day-in and day-out hating by body, regardless of my size or what it looked like I might add, to experiencing the freedom, excitement and, overall, positive relationship with my body, it’s simply no wonder that my early career as a therapist took the unpredicted detour into the world of eating disorder treatment. In working with so many courageous women over the years, I have grown intensely thankful for possessing an unwavering belief rooted deep within me that we are all worthy of life – that all of our lives have meaning, capacity to thrive and to experience fulfillment at levels one wouldn’t dare hope for – and we don’t need to be in love with our body before those experiences can begin!
During my teenage years and early twenties I spent a sickening amount of time bouncing from diet to diet, constant feelings of inadequacy, taking on an incredibly distorted view of myself and what my “inability” to stick to the diet of the month meant about myself as a woman, my future, and my worthiness to be loved. Sure, I could give you the details of why I feel I bought so heavily into the importance of placing body image at such a high priority but the reality is, it’s doubtful that my story is much different from that of the norm for many young women now-a-days. I do believe the specific experiences that influenced me are important and pertinent to this topic, but, perhaps it deserves it’s own space and story. Most importantly, I now see how much time I missed out on during what could have been incredibly influential years cultivating more talents, deepening my own spiritual base and self-knowledge and, frankly, having way more fun!
Time went on and I became actively engaged in re-evaluating how I wanted to perceive my body, treat my body, and the relationship I wanted with others around me and actually stopped to question why in the world these ideas were so strong to begin with. Eventually, I was introduced to a book authored by Dr. Evelyn Tribole, entitled Intuitive Eating, A Revolutionary Program That Works. The day Intuitive Eating came into my life was the day I began to let myself out of what I now call “diet prison.” Over time, I began to see that my daily thoughts, what I call “my frequent fliers,” were changing from punitive themes of my body being the enemy to empowering themes of giving my body what it needs to help me thrive. To put it simply – I never looked back.
My relationship with my body and how I feel about it from day-to-day is not perfect, but I work hard to keep it rooted in awareness, self-respect, and kindness. It is intimate, deeply personal and constantly evolving. I have an ever-growing understanding that it’s unlikely that I will know everything there is to know about the human body and the innumerable factors that influence it’s functioning (probably because there is wildly conflicting information that sounds so very convincing on just about every topic having to do with food, diet, exercise, etc.). Even so, I will do everything I can, regardless of my size or what I see in my reflection, to never return to a place of never feeling good enough, where a disproportionate amount of my time is spent obsessing and plotting about how my next “attempt” at changing it will work this time and then my life can really begin.
See below for more resources you find this information interesting or helpful.
Intuitive Eating, A Revolutionary Program That Works. By: Evelyn Tribole
Women, Food, and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything. By: Geneen Roth
Beauty Redefined: Taking Back Beauty for Females Everywhere
The Body Image Workbook: An Eight-Step Program for Learning to Like Your Looks. By: Thomas Cash, PhD
The Exercise Balance: What’s Too Much, What’s Too Little, and What’s Just Right for You! By: Pauline Powers, MD and Ron Thompson, PhD
Kristin Bennion, LCSW
Intimate Connections Counseling, LLC