All these people were coming up to me with concerns about my daughter's weight. I know she's not anorexic. She is listening to her body and giving it what feels right, but that has led to her losing quite a bit of weight, and she was already thin.
A friend of mine was telling me this all too familiar story the other day as we sat and drank tea in our favorite tea shop in our little town by the sea. As she told the story, my mind instantly went back to my own Midwest suburban childhood, when my mother was concerned with my weight.
At the age of nine, I became extremely thin. Coincidentally, around that time, my mother had come out as gay and she and my father divorced. In her guilt, she was trying to covertly convince me to eat more by stocking the kitchen with things like cookies, cookie dough, ice cream, chocolate milk, and bringing home books about girls with anorexia.
I wasn't anorexic, I was growing, and it was only later that I realized my mother's concern. At the time, I simply enjoyed eating tons of sugary food and reading the incredibly depressing books my mom was bringing home for me.
I was a very active young person. I was one of those kids who ran everywhere, played sports every day at recess and after school, and was constantly practicing doing something physical, even if it was swinging from the monkey bars. It also took me forever to eat. I would sit at the dinner table sometimes for hours. Now, of course, I set land speed records when I eat, but back then, sans all the sugary processed crap my mom was feeding us, I was a pretty healthy eater.
All through my life, I have had different people tell me different things about my body; that it is too thin, too muscular, too fat, not fit enough, too fit, I mean, if I actually listened to all the people who told me all the different ways my body was in some way lacking, I would most likely be an incredibly insecure and sad person. At first, these comments did effect me. But after some time, I noticed a pattern.
People tell you what they think your body should be to alleviate their own concerns about their bodies. Very often, in fact, most often, what people think of your body has nothing at all to do with you. But we are brainwashed into beleiving that we must all look the same. We have been convinced that conformity is safe. That standing out in any way is dangerous. But that is a fairy tale. That, in fact is pure fiction, created to convince us that we must buy things in order to fix whatever is "wrong".
This does not make these people bad people. This makes these people in need of your love and compassion. I know this is not a super popular point of view. We are told that body shamers are in need of a good lecture, in need of being put in their place. But, in my experience, these people are victims of the same treatment, and in fact, need compassion, understanding, and maybe a conversation about how different bodies are different, and that when they take the time to tell you that your body is in need of fixing, they are expressing their own anxieties about their body. The anxiety that our society has transferred to all of us.
It sometimes hurts when people criticize my body. But at this point, I am in a place where I feel sad that their body anxiety has manifested into comments about mine and that their feeling of helplessness about their body has created a need in them to tell me how wrong I am. It's heartbreaking because I know that this is just conditioning, and that if they can be conditioned to believe that they're innately flawed physically, they can also be conditioned to believe that no matter what they look like, they hold within them an innate beauty that will shine if they allow it.
I think the body positive movement is a great thing because it is bringing awareness to this sickness. The sickness that has convinced us all that we must look a certain way. But like any other sickness, there is a cure, and it is compassion. Compassion for yourself, compassion for others, and compassion for a society which has been turned into a scared and insecure population of conformists.
We are all born with a spark; with a light that can manifest into magic if we cultivate it. But the distraction we are taught that we must look a certain way, be some sort of physical ideal, keeps us from it. There is no way you can be your best magical self if you are constantly beating yourself up about your thighs, butt or hair. And there is no way those around you will reach their potential if they are constantly fed the information that what is on the outside is what's important.
Conformity has never been a comfort to me. It always comes at too high a cost. It is time we start treating ourselves and each other differently. It is time to understand that if we can develop a deep love for ourselves and each other, we will, on an individual and group level, be able to reach our glorious potential. We will be able to evolve into magical creatures.
This disease of conformity is keeping us from evolving. The absence of self-love is keeping us from becoming.
Self-love is not a luxury. It is a necessity. Time to start. Start now. Do what you can to change the dialogue and love yourself. We will only achieve what we can as a culture if we focus on love. You will amaze yourself with what you can do if you start praising, and stop belittling yourself. Flowers don't blossom in shitstorms. Neither will you.
#bodypositive #bodypositivity #selflove #powertothepeople