Pinkies, please welcome Nicole Johns, author of Purge: Rehab Diaries: a book about her own severe eating disorder and the treatment that saved her life. She's here today with some thoughts on why poor body image is as pervasive as it is, and how we might use our Magical Eyes to shift how we feel about ourselves.
Why do some of us have a poor body image? We like to blame it on the media with its focus on superskinny models but it goes deeper than that. The media is an easy scapegoat, but it is not the cause (or at least the sole cause) of poor body image.
Our body image is a reflection of how we feel about ourselves. Just like it’s easy to blame the media as the source of bad body image, it’s easy to take our internal struggles and project them onto our bodies. Our bad body image is a manifestation of our inner turmoil. Eating disorders are never solely about food and weight, and bad body image is never just about some cellulite on our thighs.
It is no coincidence that the sicker I was with my eating disorder, the worse my body image. I constantly tried to make myself believe that if the number on the scale went down, I would feel better about myself. In reality, it didn’t matter. Even after I lost a significant amount of weight, I still felt horrible about how I looked. I felt that there was always something wrong with my body no matter how thin I was.
What’s going on inside
Whittling my life down to school and an eating disorder was a way for me to distract myself from feeling and dealing with my emotions. It’s easier to tabulate calorie counts than to deal with the pain that accompanies a messy break up. It is easier to workout until exhaustion rather than work through the pain of a sexual assault.
Likewise, it is easier to berate ourselves for our ample hips rather than admit to ourselves that we hate our jobs, are unhappy in our relationships, etc. Like eating disorders, bad body image is an elaborate means of distraction, it keeps us from thinking about what is really bothering us in our lives.
Instead of blaming our extra pounds or untoned limbs for our problems, perhaps we should dig deeper and look for what is really bothering us, while working on changing our body image. Good body image is powerful, and it can change your life.
When we feel bad about our bodies, it shows. We hunch our shoulders, try to suck in our gut and it gets so tiring to walk through the world this way, never feeling good about ourselves. When we feel good about our bodies, we are open and relaxed. We are comfortable in our skin, and it shows. There is so much freedom in accepting ourselves, flaws and all.
Good body image is an act of rebellion against a society that tells us to feel bad about our bodies if they aren’t a certain way. Our society tells us to be critical of our bodies rather than loving and praising our bodies for everything they do. What would happen if we re-framed how we look at our bodies? If we thought about how our pelvis is the first cradle for our babies instead of disparaging ourselves because we have wide hips?
By reclaiming positive body image, we free up so much time. Think about how much time we spend fixating on our appearance, scrutinizing our flaws and feeling bad about ourselves. What if we stopped counting calories and carbs, stopped the brutal exercise regimes and stopped berating ourselves? What if we accepted ourselves, flaws and all? Perhaps we would feel better about ourselves physically and emotionally. There is so much freedom in acceptance.
How do you feel about your body? How much energy do you waste on berating the skin you're in? What works to help you feel good? Please share!
Loving what is,
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