In spirit of NEDA week Amanda suggested focusing on recovery- /body-image-related topics for today’s episode of Thinking out loud. I’m following suit because recovery and ED awareness are topics dear to me and there’s a topic that’s been on my mind and sitting in my drafts folder for a while already. Time to talk about a sentence that changed my approach to body shaming.
Something just about every woman – dealing with an ED or not – struggles with is body image. Not surprising when a the glance at a single magazine rack at the store will offer you boatloads of advice on how to slim down. How to loose those ‘last few pounds’. When the media essentially tells us that every body – no matter how flawless it might be – needs constant working on it and watching your diet to at least maintain its current state. Better yet improve your shape. And that – in my opinion – is the first fault already. We’re constantly told to talk and think about ‘our bodies‘. Thereby essentially differing between our physique and psyche. Yet one of the most inspiring and mind-changing thoughts I read ages ago [not exaggerating here] was a single sentence:
You don’t have a body. You are a body.
Simple as that. It’s a sentence that has stuck with me forever since. A tiny change of a sentence – but a huge change of mindset. When we no longer criticize our bodies but see ourselves as a whole …
In fact, it has been ingrained with me in ways I didn’t notice. Several months ago I attended a workshop on self-presentation in application procedures. The first task all attendees got was to shortly present themselves pretending they were applying for their dream job in that very instant. On a random note: I absolutely dislike presenting myself in front of huge groups. Spontaneously at that? The horror. Given that I hastily introduced myself and talked a little about my To my surprise, the feedback I got from the instructors afterwards stressed one important point: I’d been the single person in a group of about twenty who presented herself not saying something along the lines of “my name is” or “I’m called” but using “I am”.
We are so much more than our physique. We are caring. Creative. Loud. Quiet. Cheery. Inspiring. Loving. Smart. Maybe you have a smile that’s contagious or your jokes make everyone laugh so hard they have to cry.
Note that I’m not saying I was perfect. I have bad days where I’m feeling discontent with myself. But whenever I’m about to think negatively about myself as in a body-shaming way – think: “my legs are fat”, “my stomach is wobbly”- I stop myself. Judging any part of my physique negatively with the sentence above in mind would mean criticizing myself as a whole person. Really? Even on our ‘fluffy days‘ we’re no less caring. No less interested in others. No less creative. Loving. Genuine. Unique.
The way every single one of us is shaped isn’t something we can influence. It’s the genetic material that’s been ‘handed down’ from one generation to the next in our families. And isn’t it a beautiful thought to know that no other person in the world has the exact same genetics? It’s like …