Saturday, October 3, 2009

Back to the Questions...#7:

Here's another one (and a good one) by Licketysplit. She asks:
"Is there anything you can remember helping you specifically with being able to accept your body? Although I'm in a much better place than I have been in past years, it seems like every time I get momentum to finally kick this thing to the curb, my body image gets in the way and takes me back to ED."

I know this is going to sound strange, but I think Women’s Studies helped me be able to accept my body in a big way. I was an English major in college, but I also ended up leaving with a degree in Women’s Studies as well as English. I dabbled at first, taking a Women’s Studies class here and there, ended up making it my minor, and then took the plunge and added a second major to my workload. I liked it that much... and what's more, it made me feel good about myself.

Let me explain: While I sat in a lot of my Women’s Studies classes, I began to GROW a deep appreciation for my female body. I was super proud to be a woman, and I realized that a body came with that. I also was able to delve into a lot of eating disorder issues via books, films, discussions, and courses, so I could explore my own feelings, experiences, and better help myself and others. Being a Women’s Studies major helped me to like myself.

I don’t by any means think that the answer to accepting your body is Women’s Studies. (Haha.) It just happened to be a big part of the equation for me. I found my voice in those classes. I found some of the spirit I felt I had lost. I became less shy, less self-hating, and I discovered things about myself I didn’t even know. Plus, the feeling of...sisterhood, for lack of a better word... made me feel comforted and at ease. I liked feeling like a part of something and that something happened to be womanhood... a piece of the human race... which allowed me to express myself, accept myself and my body, and understand that all women are incredibly different and beautiful.

A lot of accepting my body was the “fake it ‘til you make it” rule of thumb. I just pretended really hard to be okay with myself and like myself, and the rest began to follow.

I took a lot of photos of myself. A lot. Not for bones and thinness and other things. But for beauty. I took pictures of myself and looked for beauty in them. I ended up liking a lot of photos I took of myself. I learned to smile at myself. Used my artistic eye to see loveliness. Told myself it was okay to have thoughts like, “Wow, I look really pretty here.” It didn’t mean I was conceited. It meant I was learning to like my own appearance, even as the weight went on. I used to just sit with myself, inside or outside, hair up or hair down, and snap photos of my own face and body with my digital camera. I saved them on my computer in a folder and instead of picking them apart, I admired them. It gave me a really good feeling to know that I was ADMIRING myself. Finally finding beauty in my appearance. (I don’t mind sharing these nutty things, as they obviously did a world of good. Haha.)

I also tried to make things a celebration instead of a meltdown, even if I had to force myself. It usually ended up transforming anyway. Prime example: When I was doing really well in recovery and I had to buy new clothes because my old ones were too small, I didn’t let it freak me out. As you know, it’s not a very good feeling to pull on pants and have them not fit. Especially if it’s not just one pair, but many pairs. It had the potential to make me panic. I had to buy a bunch of new clothes. Bigger sizes. And when I came home, I could feel the panic I called my best friend and turned what could have been a meltdown into a celebration. “I had to buy new clothes!” I yelled into the phone, happily. “A lot of my stuff was too small. I bought BIGGER sizes! I can’t believe it! It’s so amazing that I’m not wearing a size X anymore!” I was proud of myself, but I was antsy and uneasy. So I simply tried to portray the happiness I knew I should wholly be feeling. I knew I should be congratulating myself.

She was so happy to hear what I told her, and so proud of me. And obviously glad that I was at a healthier weight that I wasn’t fitting into my old clothes. So she celebrated with me. She congratulated me. We made it a good and a happy thing. I got off the phone feeling good, feeling proud of what I had done: stuck with recovery long enough to gain weight and keep it on... then not fit in my clothes, then buy NEW, BIGGER ones, then NOT freak out. It was huge.

Body image may get in the way for a while, but you don’t have to let it cause you to restrict or (insert other behavior) and head back down an unhealthy road. Work with it! If you don’t give in to it, it will pass. It will come in spurts for a while, here and there, but eventually, it will pass. You have the power to turn things around. Don’t let fear stop you.


Jessica Joy Daly said...

I like what you had to say about "fake it till you make it". I think that sometimes that really really helps. Not that you can always convince yourself to believe something, but I think that positive thinking and talk can start to change our body image.

I am excited to join this journey with you!

Arielle Bair (Becker) said...

Thanks, Jess. That was kind of my system back a few years ago. Positive thinking, as hard as it can be sometimes, really does begin to permeate the mind. It definitely played a part in getting me to where I am today.

Thanks for stopping by! :)

Jessie said...

Hi, I just found your blog and I want to say that I've found so much great advise here. Thanks for all of it! I really like the idea of turning things into a celebration not a meltdown. Of course I'm sure I won't really feel like I'm celebrating but if I go through the motions, hopefully I'll start laying down the foundation for new behaviors and maybe some day I really will end up celebrating.

Arielle Bair (Becker) said...

Jessie, thanks so much for the comment. I'm glad you've found some helpful things here. I hope you WILL end up celebrating in time. :) It can happen and I hope it does for you. Take care of yourself. Thanks for reading!