This week is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, which was organized in an attempt to ” “ultimately prevent eating disorders and body image issues while reducing the stigma surrounding eating disorders and improving access to treatment.” As you probably already know, questions of body image are incredibly important to me, as I feel we live in a culture that prizes women’s bodies so long as they adhere to a strict beauty standard, which (not so) coincidentally also happens to be one that is grounded in weakness and frailty rather than strength and health.
Over the course of the week, I’ll be sharing some guest posts from some smart, compassionate bloggers who, like me, are deeply invested in fighting against toxic culture that encourages us to hate ourselves and our bodies.
It’s like – my body is over there, spilling over into the room around it, and my head is over here, chatting with you and looking pretty. We’re two totally different pieces. Can’t you see? But, I love my body, can’t you tell?
It took me a long time to realize that loving my body meant something quite different than leaving it alone and letting it run the show however it so pleases. That loving the skin that I was in had absolutely nothing to do with “throwing all the rules out the window,” or saying f*&$ you to society and their idealized beauty norms.
It means: you only get one body. One. It is your home, your rock, your ally – and treating it like a dumpster or ignoring it, hoping it will just go away already – is not helpful.
It means: respecting the skin that you’re in.
I get a lot of people writing me emails about loving their bodies, wanting to know please God body love seems so far away when I hate my body so much – to which I reply let’s start with body neutrality.
Yes, body love is the wonderous state where everything is wonderful and you skip around in a field of flowers, blissed out and having nothing but compassionate thoughts about your authentic self. But for many? We just aren’t there yet.
Body neutrality is a state of contentment. It is dead smack between I hate myself with every fiber of my being and I couldn’t possibly love my body any more. It is a white flag thrown into the ring. It is the gauntlet thrown down when you realize that what you’re doing? It just isn’t working for you.
For me, body neutrality means cultivating a short set of guidelines within which I know that I will feel relatively good – and sticking to them, no matter what. These rules include simple things (the kind we all know that we should do, but never get around to) like starting my day with 32 oz. of water pre-coffee, getting at least seven hours of sleep, buying underwear that fits, having sex with moderate regularity, and trying to fill up half my plate with vegetables of some variety.
It’s not really a write home worthy list, but it works. As someone who is recovering from a lifetime of compulsive and emotional eating – these guidelines keep me in a window of containment where I am able to make decisions that aren’t warped by mood swings or panic. They save me from the very dangerous place of: How did it get this bad? I am so terrified and feel so disgusting I don’t know what to do next.
These guidelines put my head back on my shoulders, reconnecting it with my body – after twenty years of stuffing my feelings down with food. It reminds me that my body is here to support me as I move about the world – and that is something that should be celebrated.
It reminds me that we are on the same team, and that developing a baseline of self-care means that we both win.
And for someone who is just beginning to delve into the world of self-love – it is a perfect place to begin.
Mara Glatzel is a body image warrior and self-love coach. She spends the majority of her time causing a ruckus on Medicinal Marzipan, where she blogs (almost) daily about correcting your relationship with your body and food, creating relationships that are fulfilling, and manifesting your dream life. Catch up with her body loving updates on twitter, Facebook, or send her an email.
Do you have something to say about body image and eating disorders? You can join us by grabbing this code and pasting it at the top of your post:
<a href=”http://www.alreadypretty.com/2012/02/body-image-warrior-week.html”><img title=”bodyimagewarrior_banner” src=”http://www.alreadypretty.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/bodyimagewarrior_banner1.png” alt=”” width=”502″ height=”102″ /></a>
And please, by all means, share a link to your post in the comments! I’d love to read what you have to say.
Want to read more? Participants in Body Image Warrior Week are:
Dress with Courage
Eat the Damn Cake
Fit and Feminist
Not Dead Yet Style