What a week! I’ve been overwhelmed (in a very good way) with all the responses from last week’s post about being totally over food-shaming.
I so appreciate you taking the time to write, because I heard some lovely things from you:
“I dare you to celebrate your choices–they’re a huge piece of who you are–and think about the pleasure they bring to you.”THAT is the most empowering sentence I’ve read in years…fabulous post…thank you!-ConstanzaHaha! I’m with you if it was the cake of my dreams that I knew I wanted and loved I would eat it with no shame, and on my birthday I had my favorite cake and was waiting to have something I really enjoyed and loved not just some old stale dessert laying round etc…loved it shared it , etcCrystal
WOW! That’s the best thing you’ve ever written! It makes perfect sense! I’m going to forward it.Love, Mom (okay, I could not resist sharing that one…;-)
It’s so f-ing good and spot on!Shari
GREAT. GREAT. GREAT!!!Thank you,Kelly
I was super excited at how many people read my post and felt it truly resonated with them. It’s good to know we’re not alone in our journeys.
I also received an incredibly poignant and heartfelt response that cracked my heart wide open:
Esther, I wish I knew a way to let you know how much I appreciate what you wrote about food-shaming. I understand that some people are just trying to be helpful. I understand some people are just not. I have been flipped off, cursed at, openly mocked, followed at a party by a hired photographer just to capture the hidden moment I dared to take a single bite of food. I have been ridiculed and shamed by many simply because I am fat and I exist. Without saying a word to anyone, I can have all this happen just when I walk in a room. However, after reading your email I realize on an even deeper level all that seems pale compared to the times I have felt compelled by my self to feel shame.
I think shame and fear are terrible motivators. They often paralyze or cause us to go in downward spirals. I don’t need to read another article or hear another arrogant, condescending physician pronounce imminent and inevitable calamity upon me because I am obese. I am not in denial – just not one who has found life and success in “eat less, exercise more” or pills or surgery. (Good on those who do.) I certainly don’t need to be reminded that I don’t look good. I can’t begin to calculate how much money I have spent on gyms, diets, diet books, exercise videos, trainers, medicine, supplements, specialty food, unsightly clothes just to find something to wear, etc. I blame no one but myself for my failures, struggles, and even ignorance to get lean and healthy, but it amazes me that people think I will be more highly motivated than I already am by calling me out in a humiliating way in public.
I keep trying and I choose hope over shame. A lot of my healing is/will be coming by moving past what others think and letting go of self-condemnation.
Life is a gift – that is why it is called The Present.
Thank you for the encouragement to allow myself to be human.
Best — Jeff
I mean, seriously, I was blown away when I read those words. What a powerful reminder of the effect our judgements have.
We’ve all been there– where we judge people we barely know without truly understanding their journey (I’m totally guilty of this one). And we’ve been on the receiving side of a judgement, where we feel the sting of being at fault or the humiliation of rejection. Neither side feels particularly good to me in my mind or my heart.
I was recently visiting my mother-in-law down in Florida, when a very attractive woman my age on the beach struck up a conversation with me. I was coming out of the ocean and wearing my bikini without a cover-up on. We started talking about our kids, and how she had just come back from a family trip to Costa Rica. She had stayed at the Four Seasons, was pampered to the nines, had a chef preparing her personal meals…the works. Plus, she was dripping in bling and had a good 6 inches on me and was at least 3 sizes smaller than me. From the outside, her life appeared pretty damn perfect.
This did not bother me, mind you–I’m pretty damn comfortable where I’m at. I’ve been working hard to heal my body from Epstein-Barr all year and am finally getting enough sleep where I can establish some type of regular exercise routine 4 days per week. Amen to that!
So what happened next rattled me a bit. Because, in the midst of our conversation, it happened.
The inevitable full-body once-over–where every inch of you gets completely looked over, inspected, and critiqued from head to toe. In other words, the most shameless type of critique one woman can give to another (raise your hand if you can relate to this!!). And my insecurities broke through and I thought to myself, “I bet she’s wondering why I’ve got some extra weight around my middle even though I’m a nutritionist.”
Now, thankfully for me, I’ve done a LOT of work on myself over the years and am to the point where I can quickly recover and shut it all down within 10 seconds. So that’s exactly what I did.
How? By telling myself these words:
“This woman had no idea of what my journey and my struggles have been. Nor do I need to explain them to her. My body is none of anyone’s business.”
End. Of. Story.
Oh, and by the way–your body is noone else’s business, either.
Sure, people can be thoughtless and insensitive and say stupid crap to you. But you have to remember that their behavior is simply a reflection of who they are as people, and has nothing to do with you. It’s actually about their journey, not yours. In fact, there’s a very good chance that you’re just not taking up that much space in their heads.
So, back to the story.
After the once-over, I wrapped things up and headed back to the beach. Turns out my mother-in-law knew that young woman, and she’d had a sister who died tragically.
It made me think twice about judging her for judging me. Who knows–maybe all that money talk and insecurity was a way to distract her from truly feeling the pain going on in her life. Maybe she didn’t even give two hoots about my body. Maybe she was so caught up in her own mind that none of my guesses are correct.
Our perception may be our reality, but it doesn’t mean it’s someone else’s.
One can never know, right?
We can’t always control what others think of us, but we can control how we feel about ourselves.
Getting to the space where we can love our bodies unconditionally and focus on what amazing human beings are is where I’m at.
Finding your bliss is about empowerment, not judgment.
We are so damn hard on ourselves. We have to learn to change our internal dialogue and show ourselves some love for a change. Because really, the alternative doesn’t do us any favors in the long run.
The less we judge ourselves, the less we judge others. Try turning the conversation inwards and just spend time figuring out the exact things in life that make you happy. With the exceptional curve ball here and there, I don’t spend much time stressing about my body anymore. Instead, I try to think about all the magical ways I can take care of it.
Thanks for listening today,
PS. Check out my guest appearance on Alex Jamieson’s wonderful Crave Cast. In it we talk about “Food Guilt” and how even best selling health experts feel pressure to eat perfectly! (See? No one is immune…)
Alex & I talk about how we can avoid getting sucked into definitions about food and how we can change our relationship with the rules, labels and the confusion around food.
Let’s indulge in the physical pleasure of human experience, human health and vanquish food guilt once and for all! Click here to listen.