Thursday, October 18, 2007

Feministing on Bodies and Food

Feministing on Bodies and Food

October 18, 2007
Ten Things You Can Do Right Now to Love Your Body
1. Make the radical choice to commit to healing your relationship with your body.
2. Never diet. Never ever. It is a $31 billion industry that fails 95% of the time. That's just stupid.
3. Reconnect with your authentic hungers. When are you hungry? When are you full? What are you hungry for?
4. Move in ways (African dance, yoga, running, sex...) that make you feel happy instead of adhering to strict fitness regimens.
5. Add a compassionate voice to the chorus in your head.
6. Don't spend money on products made by companies that make you feel inadequate. Duh.
7. Stop hanging out with toxic people that make you feel bad about yourself.
8. Change conversations about weight to conversations about wellbeing.
9. Nominate someone for the REAL Hot 100.
10. Redefine your notion of success to include your own wellness--including joy, fulfillment, resilience, and self-love.

Shameless plug alert.

For more ideas of how to heal, check out my book: Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: The Frightening New Normalcy of Hating Your Body.
Posted by Courtney


MaxTurmoil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MaxTurmoil said...

As with anything in life, it is always easier said than done when comes to getting people to do things. Starting from the top of list you need to make the ‘radical choice’ to change. I disagree with the word choice there. Radical? It is probably used to catch your attention to what is already blatantly obvious choice people need to make. But in my unimportant opinion, that needs to be changed to sensible. It is sensible to have a healthy relationship with your body - not radical. I realize that most people (young women especially) will consider it radical, but by the loaded terminology we can’t expect results. This brings me to “diet” word too. Being a diet shouldn’t be diminized. It’s a common fact that people gain weight during the holidays and other social events. We don’t need to demonize someone for wanting to lose excess weight. Now don’t get me wrong here, when a medium height 100 pound woman gains a couple pounds and calls her-self fat that is obviously something is wrong with that.
Points 2 and 3 need clarification as well. I believe it is perfectly well to “diet” after holidays or other times of the year when you begin to pack on weight. With an obesity epidemic sweeping this country and some other parts of the world, we do need to evaluate when we eat. As I sit here right now one of my peers is eating, just out of boredom because that person is sitting in front of the computer. That is something else in its entirety unhealthy too.
Exercise is important; Points 4, 5, 8, and 10 are the most important points. We need to take the aim of beauty from being thin, to being healthy. You can be healthy and be curvy is the message we need to be sending out. Dove Project, Fruit of the Loom and new women’s jean companies are doing just that. They are beginning to recognize that the ultrathin look is not healthy and becoming less desirable.
Point 6 is a tricky one. I know of women and men are included here too that they purchase things just because it gives them a sense of empowerment. If we are socialized to accept this and feel that way, then what can we do? I don’t have any clear answers. As we already know we are bombarded with media images and tabloids that tell us when Celebrities are gaining weight and when big is too big? We need to shift the focus on what is healthy and how to feel good about being healthy, not being the thinnest. This starts with education, and a half semester of health in high school or middle school is not going to cut it. We need to give education to our children to shield them from the unreasonable images that they will be bombarded with.

ladylawyer said...

hey! This is Lisa. I just wanted to leave my mark or comment or whatever on this one because it hits so very close to home for me... It's like for about 13 years now I have struggled with these very issues in my own life. Ever since the tender age of 14-I have been concerned if not obsessed with my own body image, the fads of the day, the ideal weight charts etc, and the complexity of dieting. I have spent countless hours and days and weeks and years trying to figure out what exactly it is that makes dieting possible for some(or more realistically impossible for the majority of women.) It seems to me that this trend is only getting progressively worse in today's society--especially in circles of young girls. This is a quite dangerous if not deadly epidemic in my opinion. The statistics do not lie... thousands of women die every year from anorexia, bulimia, and other related health issues directly related to obsessive dieting behavior. Believe me, i know--i almost have on more than one occasion. I feel that this blog was extremely helpful and insightful in that it tried to divert the attention to other, more healthful ways of self-love and how to regain a better body image of yourself and others as well. I think that this article focused on the most important issue facing America today: image. This takes it back to the old adage "you can't expect someone else to love you until u learn to truly love yourself." This couldn't be more true. It has taken me over 13 years to come to terms with my own personal image and my feelings about this towards myself. Only recently have I discovered that these issues (of body weight, jean size, bra size, and others' view and impression of you)don't matter nearly as much as your IQ, your ideology, your dignity and your self-worth. More women should take this worthwhile advice!

kydemocrat said...

I agree with "maxturmoil". The advice in this article is far easier said than done. They are great suggestions, and women's lives would be much better if they would accept these tips... if it weren't for the repercussions for doing so.

One would be hard pressed to find many women who would disagree that these are wonderful ideas. However, for the vast majority of women, the price of doing so is simply too high. In today's day and age, the results of adhering to this advice would be subjecting oneself to the worse sense of rejection.

Women who do not diet, who do not wear certain fashions and adhere to other societal- influenced gender norms, are rejected in all areas of life. Few are viewed as potential mates by men, very few professional/ prestigious roles are open to them, and they are completely shut out of the power structure within our society.

Because of these potential consequences, many women have had to weigh the costs of dieting/ adhering to fashion norms against the consequences of being completely rejected and excluded from society. While this is a no win situation either way, most women have taken the path of "buying in".

feMENist said...

This article hits close to home with everyone, men and women. If we as a people would adhere to the message of this article we would be far better off. To illustrate the articles effectiveness I wish to share a story with you.

Last year at this same time, I weighed 215 pounds. I was bigger than a lot of the people around, but I was also smaller than a lot of the people around. I did not consider myself fat, and I did not feel unhealthy, but I was unhappy with my weight. My friends received more attention than I did when we were out doing things and I always felt like it was my weight that kept me back. I had some personal problems come up, and stress and worry caused me to drop 15 pounds. Everywhere I went and everyone I saw commented on how much "better" I looked. I myself was scared by the notion that I looked bad to start with. I was also scared that these people who knew what I was going through could have their attention turned from my well-being to my losing weight so easily. In any event, the more the comments came in the better I felt. I decided to drop a few more pounds. 10 pounds later, the comments were coming in with more frequency and they themselves were much stronger (it was no longer, "You look good you lost weight." It became, "WOW you look so much better than you use too!") Even after my personal trials had ended, I soon became obsessed with losing more weight. The attention I was receiving and the better body image I perceived did little to help this. It has been nearly one year now, and as I write this I sit 55 pounds lighter. I no longer consider myself healthy and still am not happy with my bodily appearance. I felt better and was happier 55 pounds ago, but societal influences moved me too my current state. That to me is most disturbing because lots of people take it a lot farther than I have, and it's all the product of society. There's something to learn from what the author is advocating. I am left to wish I had opened my eyes before I too was engrossed.

andsoitgoes said...

This advice is stuff I have said to myself over and over and over agian. I am sure it is that way with most females but how do " Ten Things You Can Do Right Now To Love Your Body" really change the way society has programed our minds to view ourselves because of our bodies?
It won't change unless we do these ten things every day and keep this list in our back pocket.
Radical is the key word. I guesse maybe I will tke my own advice and do this every day, thanks for posting this it really might help with my own body image issues.

freedom-is-slavery said...

How true all of this is, but it is nearly impossible to make the pledge - and even more daunting, following through with the pledge. #2 says to never, ever diet??? For those of us with a weight problem, this is unrealistic. Merely altering the food you eat is considered dieting. Also, being too fat is unhealthy. Loving yourself is to be happy with who you are. Loving yourself is also loving yourself enough to want to live longer. Being fat will not help you live long and eating too much can be construed as not loving yourself to want to live a long time. A foundation of the Mormon religion is to treat your body as a temple by not harming yourself – this means no smoking, drinking, or gluttony. Fulfilling #2 would require Mormons to cast aside one of their fundamental principles.

Numbers 6 and 7 I can definitely agree with, but this has nothing to do with your weight. These guidelines should be a goal for everyone.

Happiness is a very important goal for myself, but weighing 300 pounds would not do much for maintenance of my happiness. There are those who can be happy and very heavy, but I am not one of those people.

Katie said...

I thought those were interesting points. They make a lot of sense, and seems like worthwhile advice. It's hard to listen to it though, with the rest of the world against it.
I'd never take diet pills I dont think, but I have considered it. It's hard to feel like your not "pretty" and it's hard to make yourself feel fine just the way you are.
I'm going to take this advice though.

whitney said...

I wonder if the author of this actually takes her own advice. It is very hard advice to follow. Right now it’s pretty popular for young people to say, “I don’t care what other people think of me,” but everyone does. For a person who follows these guidelines, especially girls, people are most likely going to look down on them in some way, just because it goes against the norm. But even though everyone cares about how other people perceive them, I think a lot of people don’t realize that you care less when you are happy with the person that you are. In other words, if you really do take this advice, and start living life on your own terms, sooner or later the rejection that this might cause starts to hurt less and less. If you are truly happy and satisfied with the person that you are, another person’s rejection of you will not have the same effect than if you don’t like who you are to begin with. It will probably still hurt, but its something that wont be very important an hour later. Confidence is stronger when you build it yourself.

Anonymous said...

Practice what you preach. Although I read the very insightful and positive points about body image I can’t help but obsess over my body. I wish that I could read these 10 “Commandments” and love my body….but it’s not that simple. A women’s body image is shaped by everything around her starting from a very young age. Although #7, would be helpful, its not realistic. Even if a women were to stop hanging out with her “toxic friends” practice hating on their body the problem would not cease. Its impossible to truly get away from the message of bodily perfection that we are surrounded in. In a capitalistic society that revolves around consumerism, there is no way to say no to beauty products or the latest miracle supplement. We live in a society that portrays the image that the sky is the limit or that beauty can be achieved…no matter what. This list of things would help, but I think it would take a woman truly wanting to change her body image to do so and most women I don’t think want to. Not loving your body or picking on your imperfections is not only accepted by society but expected.