I know you have been raised in a generation of dieting. I know that you have been taught not to trust your body. I know that our society idolizes a thin ideal and this has been ingrained in your head. I know you have been taught to try and change your body over and over again in order to fit a norm deemed acceptable to society. I know you have lost weight more times than you can count and gained it back again. I know you are ashamed and embarrassed by fat on your body because generations before you told you you should be. I know that you are bombarded by ads and messages hundreds of times a day that tell you have problems to fix and encourage you to look like everyone else.Read More
Wow. The Embrace documentary is a powerfully moving film that makes you think on so many different levels. I have spent the last few weeks contemplating the movie since I saw it for the first time and I have been wondering what people thought of it. On the one hand, I have received wonderfully supportive feedback. My community was moved and impressed and they texted me and emailed me and posted on Facebook to thank me for bringing the film to our area. There was also some talk as people left the movie of -" what do I do now? I am so much more aware of this issue and I don't know how I can help". I actually had one dear sweet friend ask how she could help support me support the movement. I have an answer for that although at the time we were talking I felt just as overwhelmed as she did by the enormity of the problem concerning women and body image in our society. I also spent time wondering about the people who did not reach out and tell me what they thought. I wondered if they had a negative reaction. Did they not relate to any of it? Did they think we are all bunch of cry babies lamenting our larger figures? Many of my less positive thoughts were not at all productive but I welcomed them because they made me re-examine my beliefs and caused me to challenge my own ideas about body image. That is always a good thing for me because every time I do that, I come back stronger in my belief that dieting is not the answer, we are all beautiful and perfect human beings just as we are and we all have a light to shine that we may be hiding somewhere. And for god's sake, 90% of the time, it's not about the food.
At one point, while I was wondering what people thought of the movie, my friend shared with me this picture. Her 13 year old daughter drew it after watching my screening of the movie. I saw that and burst into tears. I don't normally burst into tears but I was overcome with the emotions of gratitude and validation for what I was trying to achieve. The picture reminded me that I will never know what impact the movie has on people exactly but if there is one person, like this amazingly talented young woman, who can draw a picture like this after seeing the movie, then everything I was trying to achieve was accomplished. I stopped wondering what the impact on everyone was or whether people loved or hated it. If I at all had any doubts, I was back on track with my mission.
Why doubts? The short answer is I think we all question what we are doing as we are doing it. Even though my gut and my heart tells me I am on the right path the majority of the time, my head and my inner critic and my ego are trying to get a word in edgewise. Not to mention that pull of society and the media. I've been conditioned to think a certain way for 40 (alright 46) years and it's not going to dissolve in an instant. It's not entirely fun to have doubts, but I welcome them because they lead me to more clarity and more conviction once I work it out. I happy to say I feel stronger than ever about my belief that life is simply better on the other side of the scale.
What to do about the "what do we do now" questions? When women walk out of this movie, they may be more are aware of society's impact on their body image or maybe they are now able to name something they felt but didn't know how to identify. That can feel raw and exposed and overwhelming. The issue might be understood intellectually, but how do we move on from there? The answer is, we each individually have to do what we can and what feels right to forward the movement for ourselves and not worry about the mountain of work there is to do around this issue. I was talking to someone yesterday who reminded me of a quote by Confucius. He said, "The man (or I'd like to say woman) who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones."
So if people can examine their own lives and find that one way they can forward the movement, before you know it, we will have moved the mountain. What might this look like? It might look like canceling your Weight Watchers membership. It might look like signing up for that dance class that you always wanted to try but were too scared to go for. It might start with following a body positive stream on Instagram or reading a book about body positivity. It might look like not commenting on your child's weight or food intake. It might look like doing some research into the science behind Health at Every Size. It might look like stopping yourself when you are about to lambaste your back fat in the mirror. It might look like getting rid of the scale and ditching the magazines that are full of false promises. It might look like making time to go for a walk by yourself or cooking something for dinner that you can't wait to eat.
There are actually so many ways that we can start to move this mountain, right now, today. I am not feeling overwhelmed anymore, I am feeling inspired. Personally, I'm going to write this blog post for my approximately 0 subscribers and hope that maybe my mom reads it or someone glances through it on their trip around the web late one night. What are you going to do today to support the movement? Feel free to comment below (mom) - I'd love to hear your ideas.