I’m so thankful my body can move. My body was made to move around and my legs can literally take me places. I’m so glad there are so many different types of movement in the world and I get to pick whichever is right for me each day.
I’m so brokenhearted that I take my body’s ability to move around this world for granted every single day. My tendency is to let my thoughts circle around how my body looks instead of what it can do–and more importantly, that it just exists. I wish I cared less about that but I probably won’t soon. So let me know if you care about that too and we can talk about it.
My world of health includes images of all sizes of people. People who are size 2 and size 18 are both real–one size is not, by definition, more authentic than another, even though one size has, in recent history, spent more time in the spotlight as our culture’s desired build. I’m so thankful that my world of health includes people of all sizes, because if that weren’t true I probably wouldn’t have decided it was okay for my body to move in public, in front of other people.
Here’s the reality of my body: I’m a size 8 pretty consistently, but a 10 on some days and 6 on others and I’m tired of feeling like I’m the bigger size on “bad” days and the smaller size on “good” days. It’s really just fine any way it shakes out because my body is a living organism.
I’m tired of feeling like some food is “bad” and some is “good” because I definitely know I haven’t felt bad about having hot dogs and kombucha in the same day. I’m tired of health food labels saying “guilt-free” because I’m not going to feel guilty about what I decide to eat.
I’m tired of “will tuck for tacos” and “earning my wine or chocolate” or whatever pith you can come up with on a T-shirt to hammer into my thoughts the notion I don’t earn my food until I remove the same amount of calories from my body.
A couple of months ago, I went to an improv show with two coworkers. Before the show, we stopped at Two Boots, which sells New York style pizza by the slice. Here are the facts of this meal: 1) I was exceedingly hungry since I hadn’t had lunch, 2) I ordered two slices of pizza while my two friends ordered one each and 3) I felt shame immediately–especially because one of my coworkers was male.
I scarfed down the first slice because I knew they’d both finish faster than I would, and then continuously offered bites of the second slice to them. And how horrifying to keep eating when others have finished. Why though? To avoid looking like a tank? A cow? The idea that ordering two slices of pizza for my very own self to eat was so shame-inducing is likely the most problematic realization I’ve had this year. The rest of that weekend I thought about how as a woman, whenever I eat an item that isn’t classified as “healthy,” a large quantity of something (or just a larger quantity than everyone else), I justify and qualify my actions:
“I’m super hungry today.”
“I was really craving this.”
“I got this to share, there’s no way I can finish it all…”
When did I start letting myself believe that my agency to consume food was limited by my gender? I’m not claiming this as true for every woman, but now I’m imagining a world where I don’t make excuses for the amount of and kind of food I eat and attempting to step into it. I’ve never explored intuitive eating either informationally or personally, but don’t be surprised if you hear some chirps on the topic from me in a few months.
At ClassPass, the company where I work, this was our homepage image for the early part of 2018. I’m so glad I work for a company that did not smooth out a photo of this person’s rolls of skin before it went on the internet and I’m so glad that more importantly, it was a conscious decision. And that she was the hero image for two months.
Marketing, as a discipline, is a statement-making industry. I’m so glad that our marketing isn’t focused on “work out to get skinny” or “work out for someone else” but “work out for yourself and what you’ll be able to do.” Most important to me is the amount of messages we got like this: “Thank you so much for the model you used.”
What if sex stopped selling and, if anything has to be the thing to sell, strength did instead? How would that change what we want our bodies to look like, and more importantly, do? I’m interested in that. (If you’d like some great examples of strong people please see Meg Gallagher and Emily Schromm.)
Here are a few more resources I’d recommend for individual perspectives on a complicated and painful topic–these over-index on speaking to women, but I’d love to update with resources for men should you have any suggestions:
- Kate Moore’s words on self-compassion (which inspired the title of this piece)
- The Liturgists podcast on body image
- Jess Connolly’s words on pre-summer body image
- A trained counselor who can walk with you through your specific story (if you’re in Nashville, I meet with Sarah Aughtman and also recommend Sage Hill Counseling)
Directly from Hillary McBride of The Liturgists:
If you woke up tomorrow morning and didn’t have any more body image issues, how would that change how you dress, eat, relate, act, move, shop, think?
Gonna have to get back to you on that one for another time, but I know it’d be blissful. I’m sad that I can’t figure out the balance between caring about my health and not giving a shit, but I think I’m getting somewhere good and that’s enough.