Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Me, The Beautiful

My desire is to be able to eat like a “normal” person: you know, be able to take one serving of something and be satisfied with that; to be able to indulge in food that other people can eat, without worrying that it will lead to a complete melt-down of will-power and resolve. But, I am finding, that is one of the thorniest parts of this challenge, I simply seem to be made for all or nothing; only problem is, “all” is certainly not working, and, ‘nothing’ isn’t working out too well for me either.
Here’s my vision: me as a health-conscious person, you know, the type that, for the most part, eats very consciously and responsibly, but can have occasional indulgences; have one cookie, and be satisfied with that, and not want to eat the entire sleeve. Or, I’d like to be someone who can indulge in potatoes now and then, or not have to be ever mindful of every calorie, every fat, and every calorie burned. I’d like to be someone who can veer off-track occasionally, and not have it be cause for a major catastrophe.
Why can’t I do that? I guess, because I am addict, and like alcoholics who can’t have “just one”, or a drug addict who can’t have an occasional lapse, I’ve got to be ever vigilant. And that’s a big drag.
But as the Buddhists tell us, most misery comes from not being able to accept what is, we rail against it, complain, whine and carry on, making ourselves utterly miserable, but if we were only able to recognize our own limitations, without continually whining, “it’s not fair!” we’d probably all be a lot happier.
But it is so frustrating to not be able to mold myself into the perfect image of who I think I should be. Those of you, who have been following this blog, know that I’ve tried the strict deprivation route, and it proved utterly unmanageable for me. So then I tried eating like a normal person (with the exception that I am avoiding all processed sugar and white flour and white rice - I figured that was enough of a challenge to master, and that I needed to back off on the weight-loss goals for right now; I felt just maintaining my weight, would be challenge enough) but I am not having much luck with that either. I tried eating some dried fruit (something I would normally restrict) but I wound up eating ten pieces instead of one. It seems every time I open that door to “normal” just a wee bit, the floodgates open, and the compulsion to eat, until it’s gone, takes over.
I guess this is because it’s really not about the weight. It’s about my association with food as something that’s going to make me feel better. One is never enough. I was that way when I was drinking; I was that way when I was using drugs. One was never enough. I always wanted more. Because the hurt was so big that one was never enough to make it go away. Whatever it is that makes me so needy that I need to put food in my mouth in response to every emotion I experience, needs to be addressed.
However, I need to give credit, where credit is due here: I have put down alcohol; I have put down drugs (I am 20 years free of both of them!) Food is the one remaining nut to crack (pardon the pun) and miraculously, I have been pretty successful with that, as well. Though overweight, I fall into the ‘average’ range of weight for my height. But I am not perfect, and that kills me.
I was just watching Darryl Robert’s documentary, America the Beautiful, in which he explores the bill of goods American girls and women have been sold re: the expectations of how they should look, how much they should weigh, how large their boobs should be, how small their waists, how firm their butt. It is a long relentless, un-forgiving list. He showed young, beautiful girls describing themselves as ugly, in response to looking at pictures of models; girls that had no clue of their physical beauty, never mind their inner beauty – that subject is never even addressed with our young people.
So if I am a little crazy when it comes to my self-concept, you must forgive me. I am a product of a society that values what we look like over who we are; that values our worth as physical entities over what we contribute to the world. Like you, I have been cheated out of a right to see myself as beautiful, and to see you as beautiful, as well. Instead, I worship images of half-starved, adolescent girls whose photos have been re-touched to create an image of something that doesn’t even exist, and I follow it as my the beacon. I have been so confused by this barrage of images that I no longer know what I look like. I look in the mirror, and, on some days, all I can do is find fault. I deserve better than this. And so do you. I applaud the ‘real women’ Dove campaign, but it is one miniscule drop in a very large ocean of images.
Work needs to be done to teach young girls not only how beautiful they are, just as they are naturally, but more importantly, teaching them to look inside of themselves to find their unique gifts and strengths. We have become so focused on what is outside of us, that we have forgotten to look inside and listen to that still, quiet voice guiding us, not only to meaningful work, but also to an ability to love others without judgment, and recognition, and acceptance, of our authentic selves.

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