Another Intuitive Tuesday post already?! You betcha! I think these are my favourite posts to write. Most likely because this subject is personal, and close to my heart. Today’s post is no exception. I have a little story to share with you guys today, about body image.
I know that body image doesn’t seem to directly relate to intuitive living, but it actually is so important. I believe that it is very VERY difficult to eat intuitively, with a negative body image. If you are constantly beating yourself up, or aren’t satisfied with what you look like, it is very difficult to allow yourself to eat what you body wants and needs without feeling guilty. It is also difficult to exercise intuitively, and take rest time as needed, when you want to change the way you look. My story today is just a reminder about how our words and what we read, can impact our feelings towards our bodies.
You know how you get those random memories that you know you will always remember? They may not even seem that significant, but they are ingrained in your mind so clearly, even down to some of the smallest details?
I have one of those memories. I think about it from time to time, but I didn’t really understand its significance in my life until recently.
I was in Junior High school. I am guessing I was probably thirteen years old, which would mean that this took place about 15 years ago. I was sitting on the floor in my walk-in closet, all alone, reading a magazine. My closet was my favourite spot to go when I just needed to get away from everyone (read: my family) and spend some time just me. I was reading one of the typical lifestyle magazines geared towards teenagers. I am guessing it was probably Seventeen, because that was my absolute favourite magazine at the time.
I remember turning to an article titled “You Don’t Have to be a Size (X) to be Pretty”. Except the (X) in the title was an actual women’s dress size, and one that I will never ever forget.
I believe the article was about girls who struggled with eating disorders, and were going through recovery. They shared their stories about their past eating habits, and how they were learning to love their new bodies and see them as beautiful. It sounds like it should be an inspiring article for a young and impressionable teenage girl to read, right? Wrong!
The title was fully explained in the article. The point was that you don’t have to be “skinny” to be pretty. What my young thirteen year-old mind got out of it was that you have to be a size (X) to be skinny, and I wanted to be skinny.
I understood the article’s point that beautiful looks different on everyone, and that was fine with me. I just knew I needed to remain below size (X) at all times, so I would remain skinny. After reading that article, I vowed to myself that I would never wear anything over size (X). I would do whatever it took.
I actually remained below the size mentioned in the article until I realized I needed to put on some weight for health reasons. Even after I gained some weight, I avoided buying anything over size (X). If I needed a bigger size, I just wouldn’t purchase the item. I much preferred sizes like small, medium, large, x-large (etc) to dress sizes so I wouldn’t have to face reality. I am sure this story sounds familiar to some of you.
The reason I am sharing this story with you today, is to talk about things that can trigger body image issues. That article that I mentioned was intended to encourage girls to feel beautiful in their own skin, but the size that they mentioned stuck with me throughout my teenage years, and will probably remain engrained somewhere in the back of my head forever.
Mentioning a size, a number on the scale, your measurements, or whatever, may not mean that much to you, but it could mean a ton to someone that overhears. Comparison and standards are ugly things, that can really affect people, especially those that struggle with body image issues and eating disorders. Even talking calorie counts, calories allowances, or nutritional information can really hurt.
To my perfectionist self, that article said, “It is okay to be over size (X), but it is better to be under it”.
Please be careful what numbers you throw out while chatting with others, posting on social media, or while blogging. You never know what someone else is struggling with and how they will be affected by what you say. It is difficult enough to be bombarded with pictures of other women looking their absolute best, but to have a concrete number to compare yourself with can be really damaging.
To those that struggle with eating disorders, or even just body image issues, I recommend you take responsibility for what you subject your eyes and ears to. If someone consistently makes you feel bad about yourself, don’t spend time with them. If a certain website posts images or text that makes you feel like you need to start dieting, don’t visit it anymore. Even reading how many calories something has can trigger obsessive thoughts. If that is the case, don’t look!
In honour of National Eating Disorders Awareness week in the US, please take the time to consider what you type/say/or even think, and have extra compassion on others in your life that may be struggling. You have no idea what they are really going through.
Also, I just wanted to say that I just ordered a swimsuit online yesterday, that is five sizes bigger than size (X) and I am proud of it! Not because I am bigger, but because I no longer am willing to let a number control my life!
Do you consider how what you say/post could affect those struggling with disordered eating or body image issues? Do you think that this is necessary?
If you have struggled with disordered eating, what do you personally find “triggering”? I find restrictive diets (gluten-free, paleo, etc.) triggering. I also have a hard time with calorie counts and personal caloric requirements. I much prefer to listen to my body, and can get carried away when it comes to the number side of how much I should be eating.