Did You Say Women’s Movement?
Dear Woo Woo Girl:
I am 15 pounds overweight. I’m not fat but I am obsessing over those pounds. I think about how much better I would feel and look if I could only shred the extra weight. I compare myself to my friends, and feel like I am the “nice” friend instead of the “hot” girl. It is all I think about it. Once or twice a week I half heartedly work out. I have this idea that my life would change or I would be happier if I lost the weight. Every time I look at a chocolate or bread, I want to gorge myself and I do. How can I stop obsessing over my weight? Signed Where is the chocolate?
Dear WITC: I hear you, sister!
My, yours and everyone else’s relationship with food AND alcohol has gotten out of control, hasn’t it?
It’s not a new phenomenon though. Food obsession has been documented as far back as the 19th century and the term “eating addiction” to describe patients with binge eating was first used in the 1930s.” The more accessible food is the more we gorge, become obsessed, and fixated on something that is widely distributed, and in abundance.
Why, oh why do we do this?
In today’s world when women are supposed to rule the world, you and I still put soo much pressure on ourselves in all the wrong places. Selfies, and the availability of instant comparison, of instant narcissism fuels this epidemic. Both men and women have fallen prey to this, but I think women have fallen harder. It used to be I would compare myself to the model in the magazine which came out weekly or monthly. Now, the second you turn on your phone it’s filled with images of 20 year old’s, buff, and half naked. The human body is beautiful and we should be proud of our bodies, but not when it is THE source of praise in our life. It is a dangerous sign that the praise we seek is not the new diet we tried, or the exercise video we religiously do, but praise fueled by feelings of lack.
It is paradoxical, sad and definitely ironic that so- called liberated women with careers and so-called independence are caught in such insecurities. To believe that a man will only love us; I can only love myself if I am visually perfect is utter nonsense, and reflects deep insecurities.
Are we a charade of what a modern women is supposed to be?
For you and me, and the other woman around us, it’s STILL not about our brilliance, our independence, our strength, or sense of humor. We rely on our image first and internal qualities second. You see this in yoga class which is supposed to be for mindfulness but in reality is used for building body perfection. Women have gone backwards. In our fight to be REAL women we fight to be flawless and hang on dearly to that thought.
It’s not just you. I stand beside you linked arm in arm.
We are sisters in solidarity to move our movement backward.
I eat when I am angry, and bored, or stressed out. In the beginning of the pandemic I gained ten pounds. It was boredom eating and the refrigerator was a place to go. Although I have never really had a weight problem I know when I am out of shape. It is my Achilles heel. My self esteem plummets and like you, sister I obsess about it. It’s as if I am saying I won’t be accepted if I don’t get into great shape. It’s a relatively new obsession for me. In my 20’s and 30’s I never looked at my body. I just assumed I was “hot.” I was never skinny but I had a good shape, and put my focus on my career. As I got older my body became a disappointment. It betrayed me starting with breast cancer. I had a double mastectomy and reconstruction surgery. It was around the same time my stomach started to sag, and lines with dimpled skin showed up. Like you, I fixate on them. I have a false belief- a voice that says getting into shape means I will have somehow stopped the ageing process. Saying no to chocolate cake means I might have fought off another sag of skin and I will feel ecstatic and worthy.
Thoughts like these are fillers hiding a strong fear of aging and losing my place in the world; not as a women but as a wanted female. It hurts my heart so I exercise regularly, sweat volumes, and challenge myself to prove I am alive and still worthy of a sideways glance. I look for validation, which angers me. I have single handedly (not really-I have much help) thrown the women’s movement back years!
Food can be many things- a celebration, for survival, or a sensory pleasure. If we want too much of it; if we obsess over our weight and what we put into our mouth- we are substituting. Instead of food as fuel it is food for a need, a lack, a submergence of our feelings. It hides deep yearnings that supports the thought-
“If you can just fix the outward, the inward will be healed…Unfortunately it is wishful thinking and the cowards way out.” (I can’t find the author of this quote.)
The hardest journey is to look inward.
For you, to focus on the pounds, and the “desire” for food, is to not have the nerve to ask for your heart’s desire. You are “hot”. I hope you know this. Taking those 15 pounds may not make you the”hot” girl in your group-there is always someone skinnier, prettier, and younger but you will be “hot” because you are the nicest, funniest, smartest, kindest or most reliable.
It’s easy to say don’t worry so much- I know it is painful not to feel “good enough.”
You have a longing that needs to be acknowledged. Find out what is missing. Are you lonely? Are you angry? Were you abused as a child? Ask the hard questions. Do the inner work and cry if you need to. Then fill your thoughts with self- love, and your body with healthy food. Exercise gently, or firecely-not to lose weight but to feel invigorated and alive. Fixations will not go away completely. I can assure you of that. I still buy creams, and fill myself with angst standing naked in front of the mirror. But I can laugh now. I feel lighter, knowing that I acknowledged my demons whom are my friends rather than my source of self- destruction to my self-esteem. I have given myself five years to continue to fixate. I tell my friends this. It is important to bring demons out in the open so they don’t have a hold on you. It is odd but it has allowed me to bring into the light, the sadness I had about ageing and put it to one side. Then it will stop. And I mean it.
Let’s make a pact-you, myself and every other woman obsessed with their weight, and body image. We will tell ourselves and each other that perfection is a pursuit best left for mastering a craft and not for pounding one’s body into submission.
Lets remember, as women in a troubled world, we have bigger things to do, don’t we?