We all made it through another holiday season, and now we have to “face the music” - open the bills, look in the mirror.
It’s a New Year. It’s a new you.
This is the time when most of us make New Year’s resolutions. We make them every year, even though we know they don’t really work. I love this fact about humanity. There is a part in each of us that never gives up hope. We say to ourselves: This is the year… I’m going to finally…
And you know what, some people actually do honor their resolutions for more than 5 days. I am not criticizing. I’ve been there myself, many times. I would like to, however, offer a different approach.
First you should know where I am coming from, so let me give a bit of background about me, in case you haven’t heard my story or seen me speak before.
Background on my body shame
I was put on my first diet when I was in the first grade. My stepmother used to scream at me: “Elaine, you’re fat.”
I’ve seen at the pictures of myself as a child, and I was never fat. I even had knobby knees.
Everyone else in the family could eat whatever while I felt hungry and deprived. I started to obsess about food, not eating, over exercising, and thinking so bad about my body. I developed an eating disorder, and went from starving and purging to laxatives. Then doing crystal meth to lose weight.
I have been a size 4 and a size 10. I know ALL about diets. I grew up on them. I know what it’s like to look “normal” on the outside, but feel “fat” in your head.
I know how incredibly hard it is to lose weight and KEEP it off. It’s easy to stop doing cocaine. You just stop hanging out with your dealer. But with food it’s so much harder because you have to eat live. You’re dancing with the devil every single day.
It’s taken a lot of hard work for me to develop healthy habits with my food choices and my exercise routine. I am often stopped on the street by strangers telling me how I look so fit and asking me what I do to work out.
Despite all of this work, I still have moments when I look in the mirror and I wish my thighs were longer and leaner. I talk about this stuff on stage. One of my speaking topics is body image in the media, so I’m fully aware of the pressures of society. And yet it still comes up for me sometimes.
I mention all of this now, because so many of us start our New Year’s Plan from a place of shame and self hate. “I hate my thighs. Gotta go back on another diet.” We call ourselves fat. We’re really mean to ourselves.
In reference to body shame, I always say: I would never be friends with someone who talked to me the way that made me feel bad about myself. So why should I treat myself that way?
So what if we took a different approach?
What if we celebrated our bodies for what they did, instead of what they looked like? All of the pictures in the media are airbrushed and Photoshopped anyway. None of it is real.
What if we focused on being stronger and kinder to ourselves? Our bodies were meant to move. That’s how we survived as cave people: hunting and gathering and running from the dinosaurs.
Please leave your comments below and spread the word that we can treat ourselves well and start the new year from a place of empowerment instead of shame.