I recently found a journal entry I made following a shopping experience I had in 2004. I titled my journal entry “Perspective.” I’m sharing what I wrote eight years ago because I feel it’s still relevant today for those who struggle with body image issues.
NOTE: I have modified the original text slightly for the sake of clarity and removed references to specific sizes, as such information may be “triggering” to some and is not pertinent to the overall message.
Size – It’s All Relative…
I was in a department store buying clothes the other day. While waiting in line to pay, I overheard a conversation between the customer in front of me and the saleswoman behind the counter. The customer was buying a lot of new clothes and told the saleswoman it was because she had recently lost quite a bit of weight. I noticed the clothes she was buying were all several sizes larger than my current size, a size I feel is unacceptable. I also noted that this woman was approximately six inches shorter than me. While I would have been dismayed to be purchasing those larger sizes at my height, this woman was absolutely thrilled to be wearing that same size.
It struck me at that moment that it is all about perspective. I don’t like wearing the size I am now because I used to wear two sizes smaller (or even four or five sizes smaller during my anorexic years). In contrast, the woman in front of me loved the fact that she was buying her current size because she used to wear a much larger size. What depresses me thrills her. Interesting how perspective affects how we feel about our size – and ourselves.
Some powerful questions came into my mind following the above experience:
- What would be possible for me – or for any of us – if we were to change our perspectives?
- What if I could be grateful for wearing my current size, as well as grateful for the fact that I am basically healthy and have many advantages in life?
- What if I could focus on what’s right instead of what’s wrong in my life?
Many things are right about my life. Despite my continuing struggle with my weight and body image, a number of things are also right in that area of my life. Here are a few things that are right for me at this point in time:
- I no longer have lists of good and bad foods.
- I no longer suffer from the utter tyranny of diets!!!
- I now have a life beyond worrying about my weight and what I eat.
- I am no longer a captive to the scale. (In fact, I no longer weigh myself at all!)
- I am gradually learning to define myself in ways outside of what I look like, and learning to love myself for who I am instead of what size I wear.
Those are just a few things that are right in my life regarding food, weight, and body image.
Eight Years Later…
Looking back on my words from eight years ago, I am reminded of the importance of perspective in the body image recovery process. There will always be things we don’t like about our bodies or our lives. If we choose to focus on those things, we will be miserable and dissatisfied. If we instead choose to focus on the areas of our lives – or our bodies – that we do like, we will experience a much greater degree of happiness and peace.
My “right things” from 2004 are still right for me! In addition, I can add some more things to my list:
- I am now in touch with my body and have learned to eat only when I’m hungry and stop when I’ve had enough.
- My weight has leveled off at a point that is healthy and attractive, and I am able to maintain my weight fairly easily through eating nutritious foods and moderate exercise.
- I have learned how to dress to maximize my unique figure, highlight my greatest assets, and downplay the areas that are not my best points.
- I am able to look in the mirror and more readily see the good instead of criticizing the “negatives.”
- I have fully committed to recovering from my negative body image (and I am making good progress!).
For those of you who also struggle with body image issues, it might be helpful for you to ask yourself the following questions:
- So what’s right for you in terms of food, weight, and body image?
- What do you have to be grateful for in these areas?
- How can you shift your perspective in a positive direction to help with your body image recovery?
We are all a “work in progress” and each new day presents new opportunities for growth and change. We all deserve to love ourselves and our bodies, and shifting our perspective toward gratitude and appreciation can help us reach those goals.