Body Image II (follow up from group discussion last night)
Jan 30, 2012Last night’s group topic was body image, my thoughts kept going long after the group was dismissed and here are some of my thoughts.
I’m not really a fan of the new office shrink. I don’t know what it is about her, but something about her just rubbed me the wrong way, but she did make me think.
My perception of my body has never exactly matched what is physically there. In my mind, I am gorgeous, I always have been, even when I was fat. The only times I’ve felt unattractive and less than myself were when others pointed it out to me or when I saw unflattering pictures of myself. Some of that is/was just spiteful people, some of it is/was reality. Whether I’m fat or thin I’ve always seen myself the same way. I can’t put into words the way I envision myself, maybe the me I see in my mind is what my inner-self looks like? Maybe she’s a previous incarnation of me? Maybe it’s the part of me that avoids reality. Does it matter? Seeing myself the way I do in my mind’s eye makes me confident, I feel invincible. I can see her in the mirror sometimes, maybe because I’m looking at the potential, or maybe because I’ve gotten great at lying to myself over the years. Pictures bring reality to the surface, the only time I see the true me is when I look in pictures. That was how I realized I gained weight when I was 17, I saw my Florida pictures and I did not recognize myself. Just as now when I see pictures of myself I think I look too thin, and at times in the mirror I do not recognize myself and have to spend an extra five minutes staring and wondering and making faces just to make sure my reflection will make them back proving that girl in the mirror is me.
Is this an unhealthy attitude? 2 years ago I would have said yes, today though? My physical body is healthy, so why not let myself believe in the girl I see in my head. It’s not hurting anyone. I’m not starving myself to achieve something I’m not, I’m not overeating because my mental image doesn’t reflect my physical one. It doesn’t depress me, quite the opposite, it empowers me. So maybe I have healthy self-image after all.
Back to last night’s meeting… I’m thinking perhaps I did not like her because I did not feel I could be myself around her, I held back a lot of thoughts and comments I really wanted to share, so allow me to do it here! (or not you can stop reading at any time, but I’m going to keep on)…
Some of her “suggestions” to better body image really rubbed me the wrong way. For example, she said that telling yourself positive things about your appearance does not actually improve your perception, there are not facts to support that theory. WRONG! See above. She said “thoughts aren’t real” I agree thoughts aren’t tangible and they are changeable. They are not always in your control and they can/will dictate your life choices. Sounds real to me. Sometimes a person’s thoughts are more real to them than reality. Even though thinking something won’t make it true, thinking leads to believing, and if you believe in something enough you will strive to make it reality.
Another one was, get out and do more, like charity work. While it’s a nice thought, we need to take care of ourselves first. If you can’t take care of yourself, how can you take care of others? The good thought behind it was you can get away from wrestling your self-loathing and escape your pity-party, but if you can’t deal with what got you there in the first place then it’s still going to be there when you come home from the soup kitchen or clothing drive and you are going to have to deal sooner or later. The better you feel about yourself the more you’ll want to do, the more you’ll want to give because you feel you have more to offer. Don’t do things because you need to escape or because you feel sorry for someone or some cause, do it because you know you have something to offer. The more you do the more you’ll want to do.
Another suggestion was to stop putting things off until you lose weight, do it now. Well that’s all fine and dandy, for some goals, but not for all of them. Some goals have to wait. Going on roller coaster rides when you can barely fit in the seat is unsafe and should wait. Some goals have weight restrictions, maximum weight tolerances. They aren’t to be mean, they are to keep a person safe. There are goals a diabetic may have for once their excess weight is gone and their disease is in remission, things they could not do when dependent on insulin or eating every few hours. And what about the guy with high blood pressure who always wanted to go sky diving? Parasailing? Bungee jumping? Should he go out and do those things today? Not if he wants a safe experience he’ll be alive to remember. But that’s just my opinion. I’m not saying a person shouldn’t go out and do things, you have to do something otherwise you’ll never real those big dreams. It’s a journey, make small goals, celebrate your achievements and milestones, don’t get discouraged just because you aren’t where you think you should be or wonder if you’ll ever get there.
While I agree with the premise of “don’t greet people by commenting on their appearance”, I don’t feel you should ignore someone’s changes either. If someone got a hair cut they might be waiting for your validation, they may need to know that you noticed. Don’t make it the first words out of your mouth when you see someone, but when you notice something about your friend, why not make them feel good about themselves and offer them a compliment on their appearance? Even those people who can’t accept a compliment graciously still get fluttery on the inside when one is given, it makes them feel better about themselves, because face it, we live in a world where appearance matters. Just don’t make it the ONLY thing that matters. You didn’t choose your friends for how they look but that doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to notice or give praise when you feel the need.
One of her suggestions was to journal your feelings, that’s one I hope to follow up with, there are so many thoughts in my head and I’m always in a much better frame of mind after I write/type out everything that is racing around in my head. It gets it out and makes room for other, potentially more important things.