The internet has been swirling with “body love” posts — things your daughter should know, things you should tell yourself, things you should ignore or not. And it is a really positive change. I definitely prefer it over backlash of defense against skinny women and Kate Moss’s motto: Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels (which is wholly untrue unless skinny comes in a double fudge chocolate variety).
A friend recently brought this article to my attention and it is a body-loving article, a shut-up those negative voices approach to loving oneself. Although — I’m going to spoil the end of the article for you — she does it in a pretty morbid way. She suggests that you remind yourself how temporal your body is on this earth which encourages you to be so appreciative of the things your body can do to enjoy life.
I tried a face-my-mortality approach back in college with miserable results. I went to college in Binghamton NY which is like a dreary black and white movie November to April. (Please note I love Binghamton and, if offered a viable possibility to move back there, I would do it. My bags are already packed in my mind.) I lived off-campus and often took the Binghamton bus to campus which drove past an old cemetery and I thought that if I just thought about my mortality EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. that my other fears in life would seem less significant. How do you think this went down? I became really depressed. Sure, my other fears seemed insignificant but I wasn’t able to appreciate what I had because I was sad as f&ck. (You can also note that I likely already had undiagnosed depression, social anxiety, among some other issues which all caused me to act like a crazy person. Maybe I’ll talk more about this some other time.) And it was a marked depression. It wasn’t a great approach for me and certainly not at the time.
We get to live this fierce, wide, wrenching life. In these scarred, scared, shining bodies. These skin and stardust, temporary bodies.
I love this quote above. And I do love her approach. I just think that when I’ve tried this, I wasn’t emotionally mature enough to even handle the approach, let alone get anywhere close to the desired body-loving result.
And the other thing I think about is that some of those “voices” in my head talking about my body image are just reality checks. “Mary, those pants are fitting tighter.” “Mary, eating 3 cookies before dinner is not a great idea. You’ve been working so hard to get to a healthy weight.” The tone of my “voices” vary but they are ALL in my own voice. They are not glossy magazine model’s. They are not (trying hard to keep this true) my mother. They are my own voice often trying to help me be the best ME I can be. But, like anyone, some of the voices are critical and afraid. I want to thank Lynn Shattuck for writing her article with conviction and honesty. I want to thank her for sharing a secret that she has found works for her in appreciating all she has.
This is “fitness friday” so let’s get to it. The kids had a well-visit doctor’s appointment Monday and then DaughterTwo and I have had colds. There has been very little working out this week. My voice-in-my-head is annoyed with my body for getting sick, annoyed with DaughterTwo for constantly coughing all over my face, and afraid — afraid that if I take a few days off and am not very careful with what I am eating that I will get irreparably fat and fall out of the habit of working out. So, what do I do? Should I think about how fleeting my life is? For me, it would make me question spending all those treadmill hours of my precious life holed up away from the sun at the gym.
Here’s what I can tell you: I don’t have the answer for you. For me, sometimes there’s just wine and cookies and a voice in my head that pokes through and says: “Please for the love of [body], please stop with the wine and cookies.” And it only works like 20% of the time because skinny tastes like sawdust compared to wine and cookies.