Ah, how times have changed.
Are you a museum-goer? Do you appreciate the finer things in life, like old oil paintings, black and white photography, American history? I’ve never been too big of an art buff, but one thing is clear and often cited when looking back over the life works of portrait artists from around the globe:
Bodies with curves were painted more often for a reason — because they were celebrated; they were a reflection of beauty and often wealth; they were portrayed in a dewy glow, with rosy cheeks, the most natural, sexy bed-head you’ll ever see on a woman. Wisps and tendrils. Soft curls. Eyes that did not indicate shame or embarrassment.
Oh, and they were also painted that way more often because that’s just how the bodies were, by the way. There was no death to be thin. Skinny was sick. The media? What media?
So why do I automatically feel like such a failure, like it’s such a poor reflection of me — what, my values? my likes and dislikes? my lack of control or willpower? — every time I catch a glimpse of my little nub of a tummy poking out over the waistband of my pants?
It just serves as another reminder that I still have a lot of work to do when it comes to how I relate to food, why I overeat, and how to deal with my REAL hunger…For a better job for my husband, for new, nontoxic carpeting in my office, for not just being aware of my issues but being rid of them (which is an issue in and of itself), for so much more. And I do, I struggle every day, wavering between eating whatever I want to eat (which, of course, to the naked, conditioned eye sounds like mounds and mounds of hamburgers, French fries, chocolate bars, and ice cream but doesn’t amount to much more than toast, leftovers, fruit, and cookies) and focusing on real foods, what’s healthy, what will ultimately do my body good instead of just pleasing that temporary craving for whatever it is, whether it’s a piece of cake or a feeling of stress or a celebratory drink at the end of summer.
As much as I think it would be of benefit to never watch another minute of TV, never leaf through another fashion magazine, and never set foot on Pinterest again — because of all the wishing and wanting it creates in me — at least I’m also realizing how unlikely all of that is and that the real objective is to get to the heart of what’s causing me to think that I can’t want or have such things, whether they’re a flat tummy or a new headboard. (Not to mention the concept that how I am and what I have right now are just fine, as is, thank you very much.) But oh, how we automatically just push for change, fast, here, now…
…Yet that’s wanting to skip all the hard work. Not wanting to slog through the weeks, months, perhaps years of identifying what we’re self-conscious about and WHY. It’s not just another item on your to-do list that you can check off in five minutes, this dealing with issues and blocks and the drive to learn how to both accept and hope at the same time. If you do have any hope for growth, any anxiety that needs to be dealt with, that’s just it: You’ve gotta deal with it. Not through food, but a breath. Not with drugs or alcohol, but with presence. Not by leaving, but by staying. Thinking. Feeling.
Trust me, I know that sounds a lot easier than it is. To some, it may even sound like a crock. I’d love to be able to look at myself in the mirror, every last inch of me, and shout to the heavens “I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!” and mean it. I’d love to not care what the naysayers say. I’d love to have peace in my head even if not in my environment every minute of the day. But I’ll take the small victories as they come — like allowing myself to eat a cookie without feeling guilty about it, or basking in the crisp air outside as my son discovers a new toy — and know that I’m one step closer to me.
What are you doing today to bring “you” closer to your inner self, your true wants, and desires? (Or what do you realize now you did or bought or ate that took you away from yourself?) Share it with me, or with someone, and you may find it brings you a little spot of sunshine. That’s my hope for you.