If you lived in a world where women’s bodies were all kinds of shapes… and there was nothing wrong, less lovable, less worthy about any of those bodies.
A woman could be thin and waif-ish, or solid and athletic, or curvy and luscious, or round and soft….and she would have exactly the same opportunities and options and respect.
And in that world of incredible diverse body shapes, there were women who were thinner than you and women who were fatter than you….and no one really cared.
Tell me: how would you feel about your body in that world?
I bet you’d still think about your body, on some level. You’d probably realize that your body wasn’t exactly the same as other people’s. I’m tall, for example, and I notice that sometimes when I’m around people who are shorter than me.
You also might think about your body because you’d want to feel good or look good. You might want to dress your body in nice clothes, and make sure that it felt good inside. You’d feed it and move it and let it rest, as needed.
But you know what I bet you wouldn’t do? Binge and diet and obsess.
Well, friend, I’ve got news for you: we already live in that world.
There are, already, incredible diverse body shapes in the world.
You are not, I am certain, the fattest or the thinnest.
You are not the roundest or the flattest or the curviest or the most apple/pear/pineapple-shaped.
And I am certain that there are women who are loved by their sexy, smart, successful, insightful soulmates, who maintain hilarious, close, fabulous, deep friendships, and succeed at their creative, challenging, high-powered, or super-chill work in the world… who are fatter than you.
At the same time, there are women who also have those soulmates, those friendships, and that amazing work… who are thinner than you.
There are women who have all kinds of satisfying lives who are all kinds of shapes. And of course, there are women who have all kinds of terrible lives who are all kinds of shapes.
The problem is that you have somehow gotten the message that your body needs to look a very specific way, that you need to weigh a weight that is in a very narrow band… in order to get what you want out of life.
So what happens?
You try to get your body to look a certain way.
You mess with the natural rhythm of the signals your body is sending you about hunger and fullness and cravings.
You lose weight, and then gain it back. And then some.
You completely lose track of the relationship between hunger and nourishment.
So what can we do about this?
It’s a complex issue, but one way of untangling it is to begin to ask the following questions, with fearless honesty:
- Is it true that you need to be thin or slender or average or any shape at all in order to get what you want out of life?
- Is it true that if you “get fat” or “gain weight” you won’t get what you want out of life?
- Or, much more importantly, what is it about gaining weight that scares you so freaking much that you spend so much mental energy, emotional anguish, and precious, precious moments and days and years in this world doing everything you can to (often ineffectually) prevent it?
Katie spent years “planning” her eating and being frustrated with herself when she ruined her plans by eating too much. She eventually discovered how to trust herself around food — read more about her story here, or get her free ebook.
If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.