I recently received an email from a reader asking for help. She hates dieting but loves diet Coke (not because it’s diet, mind you, but because she likes the taste and that’s fine by me). She hates dieting for the sake of dieting and she hates her body even more. She knows she’s overweight and that every photo she happens to see herself in will reflect her insecurities. All she wants is to let go of the emotional baggage and figure out how to be happy.
And I think she deserves to be. But many medical experts will disagree. They will tell her to eat less and exercise more. They will focus on the number on the scale instead of the emotions that always weigh more than we assumed they would.
I keep seeing the phrases “The key to” and “solving the obesity epidemic” in my social media streams. It’s the catch phrase for a billion dollar industry designed to make us think we need them be making us believe our self worth is solely determined by the number on the scale. Weight Watchers. Jenny Craig. Jillian Michaels screaming in the faces of terrified and severely obese individuals who are instructed to eat and workout in such a way that no medical professional I have ever worked with would approve of just to stay on the show and in the game.
All of this craziness is aimed at making us all think that their program/product/food plan/exercise routine is the one and only way to get our fat asses off the couch and throw away that bag of potato chips we were using for a trough so we can, you know, make them look good for doing their part to help make fat people feel better about themselves by focusing on the not being fat thing. Or more specifically, the not being skinny enough thing.
I know plenty of people who don’t look like they need a diet. And I’m betting you do, too. Every single one is convinced she needs to lose those ten pounds so she can celebrate the smaller clothing only to be confused by the fact that her skinnier self still feels like she isn’t enough.
And yet the world claps. Salutes. Looks the other way when kids are suddenly contestants on The Biggest Loser and tunes in anyway.
Our children are subjected to countless media images and peer pressure to fit a photo-shopped ideal of perfection. We sometimes (inadvertently, no doubt) contribute by complaining about the size of our asses and comments about how we cheated on this diet and how many less calories we need to eat tomorrow to make up for it. We scrutinize our bodies through society’s ideals, always fall short, and don’t think to censor what we say as we tear ourselves apart for not losing weight fast enough or trying hard enough or because our stomachs are too soft and our hips too wide.
Then we wonder why children think they need to go on diets when they should be focusing on being children. We blame the media and the magazines and Barbie when we can’t really blame anyone for anything because the media provides and we continue to demand. We buy what they sell us. So they sell us more. And then we look in the mirror and hate what we see.
They key to solving the obesity epidemic must have been lost in a very large haystack and until it’s found everyone has an answer. An entire industry is based off of our insecurities and our imagined faults. The kicker is that most of us tend to blame ourselves when Diet Plan X didn’t work for us instead of realizing that we bought into the bullshit that comes with focusing on the scale instead of stopping for a moment to really consider why we keep finding ourselves not liking the woman looking back at us from inside the mirror.
I think the obesity epidemic everyone is trying to solve is being looked at from the wrong angle. Yes, we need to be healthier and for many of us that happens to include weight loss & exercise/regular activity. But tell me, friends, do you think you can commit to taking care of yourself if you don’t feel worthy of the commitment to honoring and nourishing our bodies in the way that us best for each of us?
Forget the BMI. Screw the scale. Fuck society and its obsession with the media hyped perfection ideal. Diets & empty promises to commit are only a temporary band aid on a crack in a dam that will only hold for so long. To “fix” anything, we need to focus within. Hate yourself now and losing 10 pounds isn’t going to fix that.
Just the way we are. It’s the Girl Body Pride tagline. It’s the mantra I repeat to myself when I am having a bad day (and I admit, I have them often.) But it’s a key component to getting beyond the band aid and really examining the root of a problem so many are willing to overlook because how we feel about ourselves isn’t a concrete measurement of success society is willing to accept. Learning to love and accept ourselves as we are now, too fat or too skinny or anywhere in between, is all too often interpreted as they easy way out and code for promoting obesity or an unhealthy ideal when a positive self image is essential to “fixing” a big part of this mess.
I’m not here to tell you how much you should weigh or how much you should work out or how many calories you should or shouldn’t be consuming on a daily basis. Instead, I’m here to share my own mess to help you make sense of yours.
I’m now offering personal mentoring and guided writing workshops for individuals based on your needs in your journey to self acceptance & self love. I’m exploring options to speak to groups and conferences and book clubs about Strong Like Butterfly, eating disorders, promoting positive body image, and why it’s so very important to pretend for our little ones until we have found ourselves at the place that pretending is no longer necessary.
Love who you are & accept yourself as worthy and beautiful now and the temporary band aid fix turns into a new permanent outlook on life and your perception of self-worth. This is how we facilitate change: One reflection at a time.
Email me at girlbodypride at gmail dot com for details and stay tuned as I add more information to Girl Body Pride regarding services offered.
With love and free of judgement.
Pauline Campos is the editor of the new ebook anthology, Strong Like Butterfly, which features the writing talents of writers Lissa Rankin, Therese Walsh, Mercedes Yardley, and many more. She contributes to Funny Not Slutty, Owning Pink, and 30 Second Mom. She blogs three times a week at Aspiring Mama (or when she remember to take her Adderall) and is the founder of Girl Body Pride. Strong like Butterfly is currently available on Smashwords.