Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Reclaim Your Body, Grow Into Your Edges, Change The World

There are moments in life where the light bulb goes off and suddenly a thousand tiny dots are connected in the flash of an instant.  This moment happened for me over the weekend at BEDA’s 2013 conference in Bethesda, Maryland, as I sat and listened to Carol Munter speak.  I had only ever heard of her book, “Overcoming Overeating” but never read it, nor have I understood the depth of her contribution to the feminist movement, nor to the world in general.  Carol Munter and Jane Hirschmann, I learned, are not only visionaries, they are authors / co-authors of several books and pioneers of intuitive eating.

I sat humbly by and listened as Carol gave an acceptance speech and shared a bit of her journey.  She talked about many things … She talked about the feminist movement.  She talked about New York City in the 1970’s.  She talked about theatre.  Activism.  She talked about how significant change flows only from self-acceptance — never from self-contempt.  And she mentioned a time when she saw the Dalai Lama speak in New York City — how he spoke of our world problems with aggression.  He said that the world would change dramatically if we became mindful of managing our own aggression, individually.  Carol said that — similarly — “If women looked in the mirror and adored what they saw … imagine the ways we could change the world.”carol munter

And that’s the moment the light bulb went off … as Carol discussed the issue of “fat” being a feminist issue … that women feel as if their body is innately NOT okay the way it is … and that we are not allowed to occupy space in this world.  In fact, women are treated badly by the world, by the media, by our culture if our bodies are anything other than THIN — and we — as women — actually believe it is OUR fault.  We truly believe that we are not worthy of love or prosperity if we “take up too much space” in the world, so we feel we have to change our bodies.  We look into mirrors and universally HATE what we see.  We buy into the story that we are only good enough if we REDUCE our size.  We scan that mirror and take note of the negatives — the things that aren’t perfect.  The cellulite, the wrinkles, the muffin top, the pooch…

Rather than acknowledging the amazing beings that we are and then using the energy that we otherwise spend on attending to our bodies — to DO SOMETHING ELSE IN THE WORLD.

I thought to myself as I listened to her:

Have I ever looked into the mirror genuinely adoring EVERYTHING that I saw?  No.  Not once.

Have you?

Her question rang out to me again …

What do you think would happen if women stopped hating their bodies?!”

On her website, she supplied some answers:

We would…

  • Learn to eat when, what, and how much our bodies need.
  • Overcome our fear of not dieting.
  • Look in the mirror and like what we see.
  • Decode our fat talk to reveal our real concerns.
  • Stop trying to measure up to society’s ridiculous and impossible standards of female beauty.
  • Learn to accept ourselves—our bodies as well as our feelings—unconditionally.

RealChangeMost importantly — we would devote the time and energy that we spend focusing on our imperfections and use it to create change, reach goals, live a life of joy, abundance and prosperity — all things that we DESERVE TO EXPERIENCE.

This is why it is so important to reclaim our bodies — just as they are.

“Grow Into Your Edges” ~ Carol Munter

Because if we start there — just one tiny step towards changing ourselves, then maybe we can change our diet-obsessed culture.

Need help in doing this?  Here are some tips from Carol and Jane’s website:

Take Action:

  • Greet your reflection in the mirror in a kind and gentle way. If it helps, take your lipstick, magic marker, or your kid’s crayon and write on all your mirrors, “You’re just fine the way you are!”
  • Throw away your scale. Why should a number determine how you feel about yourself on any given day? And besides, scales are appropriate for fish, not women!
  • Put aside negative body thoughts. You’ve had the same bad body thoughts hundreds if not thousands of times. Have they ever helped you change in a real and lasting way? Think about the cruelty of your remarks. Would you speak to anyone else in such a malicious way?
  • Be mindful.  Once you get the hang of putting your bad body thoughts aside, try noticing what you were thinking or feeling right before you clobbered yourself with the thought. Believe it or not, bad body thoughts are never about your body: they are always a way to disguise some thought or feeling you are having trouble facing and accepting in yourself. For example, if you are bemoaning the fact that your stomach protrudes, think about what else about you protrudes in a way that upsets you. Are you “out there” in the world in a way that you both like and don’t like? Do you enjoy being the center of attention but give yourself a hard time about taking the spotlight? Do you speak up a lot but have trouble accepting the fact that you’re a person who makes noise? When you call yourself “huge,” or “too big” or “enormous,” remember that centuries of women have been taught not to take up space!
  • Practice looking at yourself in front of a full length mirror. No judgments allowed, only neutral observations. “Oh, my stomach is round.” “Look how I go in here and out there.” Size acceptance means growing into yourself out to the edges. Think about moving into your body rather than renovating it. Who says that stomachs should be flat? Who says that waists should be small? Who says that being thin is the best way to be? Who says that one woman’s body is more interesting or beautiful than the next? Just who came up with that crazy idea?
  • Take a trip to the nearest museum. Amble through the centuries and find a body that resembles yours. If the museum has a postcard of her, take it home to remind yourself just how lovely you are and that standards of beauty are culture bound.
  • Resolve never to diet again.
  • Make a list of all the things you’ve put on hold until you reach your ideal weight and consider doing a couple of them now.
  • Help another woman heal.  When you hear a woman say something derogatory about her body, consider saying one of the following:
    1. “Ouch. That hurts.”
    2. “It’s painful to hear you say that. Have you ever thought about how cruel we are being when we talk to ourselves in that way?”
    3. “I wonder what would happen if all women stopped hating their bodies?”

Other Ways to Engage:

1. Join The Women’s Campaign to End Body Hatred and Dieting

2. Buy the book “When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies

3.  Buy the book — the pioneering book on intuitive eating — “Overcoming Overeating

4.  Teach kids about hunger, satiety, emotionally legalizing foods, etc. with the book — “Kids, Carrots and Candy

4.  Visit Carol and Jane’s website

5.  Attend a Workshop

Let’s Do It.  Let’s Look Into That Mirror Tomorrow, Grow Into Our Edges, Love Ourselves … And Change The World.

Comments

One Response to “Reclaim Your Body, Grow Into Your Edges, Change The World”
  1. onebreath says:

    I love this list! My favourite is the trip to the museum… I love that it encourages women to find a body resembling our own, without making any assumptions about what type of body that may be. I find that many body image sites and posts focus on curvy being sexy whereas this task reinforces that women (and men) come in ALL shapes and sizes… some bigger, some smaller, all okay.

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