Sunday, January 2, 2011

People Who Need People

I went to see the new Narnia movie last night, and was irritated to spend my first 5 minutes in the theater with a larger than life commercial for "The Biggest Loser."  *SIGH*  How come the rest of the world isn't in on HAES?  Don't they know that the biggest loser producers starve, withhold water, berate, and otherwise abuse those contestants while keeping them locked on a ranch? (See Golda's interview with one of them here! I am not making this up!)  I wish the rest of the world knew about, and appreciated, Health at Every Size!!  For a minute, I got really mad.  I wanted to stick my fingers in my ears, and shut my eyes until it was over, like I was watching a horror movie! But, then I thought about the work of the HAES folks with this New Year's Revolution thing, and about how I believe one person really can make a difference, and how maybe I'm not totally alone in this - even if nobody else in the theater looked like they were cringing at Jyllian Michaels.

When I got home, I started thinking about how long it took me to discover HAES, and how, even when I did, I went back and forth about whether I could really accept myself - heck, I still go back and forth about it!  I have 30-something years of practice at treating myself way worse than those trainers treat the biggest loser guys.  The reality is that it takes a lot of patience, effort, and practice to un-learn all of the crap we've been told.  It is a daily battle, starting the minute I wake up.  Can I like myself today?  Am I OK in this skin?  Am I going to fall victim to the hype, or am I going to buck up and keep trying to stand up for myself?  Sometimes I get derailed.  I have days where I lament the size that I am, long for a fix-it pill or a miracle cure, beat myself up for the way my butt looks in those jeans, or feel totally insecure in a general "too fat to be alive" kind of way.  It's like my brain is wired that way, and my daily job is to work at re-wiring it.  Like practicing yoga, or medicine, or psychotherapy, I have to stay present, all day, every day, to myself and to my truth.

I wish the world was a little more supportive, for sure.  I wish that all of my friends and family totally understood, but not all of them do.  They have to follow their path, and I have to follow mine.  I share what I can, hopefully without turning into a zealot (I have my days!), and I try to make room for a variety of experiences and values.  I practice not sharing sometimes, when I know the response will be less than supportive.  Let's face it, sometimes I just don't have the energy to get into an HAES treatise with the chatty lady-on-a-diet buddy-ing up to me at the gym.  For me, compassion wins out most of the time - sometimes it means understanding where the gym lady is coming from, sometimes it means just being who I am and modeling a different way, and sometimes it means being an all-out activist and sticking it to the man.

The most important choice I make is to be around people who love and accept me for who I am.  I talk about other stuff! I do fun things, and try to enjoy my life, and the people in it, one moment at a time.  I am so blessed to be able to do this, even if some days it takes more work than others.  I think that, when it comes down to it, that is the point of all of this body image stuff I am so passionate about - it is about reclaiming the right to have a life worth living.  Everybody deserves that.


Anonymous said...

I have also been trying to strike a balance between sharing thoughts about HAES and becoming a zealot. It's hard sometimes! But I think I'm making slow progress with family. My mother and younger sister have read the book and are struggling with it the same way I did when I first started learning about it. My older sister is still actively trying to lose weight, but she did enthusiastically accept my suggestion that the goal, when you join a gym or start another exercise regimen, can just be to go and get some exercise and nothing else. Baby steps.

Rachel said...

I totally relate! It is amazing to find this whole new world is open to us - and frustrating when other people aren't able to share it! Still, it seems important just to hang in there with people on their journey - and keep living your life fully anyway, whether they join you or not!