How Hating My Body Almost Killed Me

August 11, 2011

or: Why I Wake Up Every Morning Still Passionate About This Work.

On Monday, I guest posted over at Stop Chasing Skinny about “the” moment when I realized that I had to start learning how to love my body exactly as it was, or face complete and utter self-destruction. It is sort of funny to me that I would finally share this story the same week that the internet is abuzz about the meaning of self-love, how it impacts the Health at Every Size movement, and where weight loss fits into that debate.

Now this title is a bit dramatic, but it all boils down to the fact that at one point in my life I was dead set on a trajectory of self-hatred and that it permitted me the authority to make decisions that diminished my already infinitesimal self-esteem and put me at risk physically and emotionally. I did that. No one else did that to me. I permitted others to determine how much I was worth. I listened when they said I was fat and therefore untouchable. I allowed the width of my perimeter to dictate how and when I spoke. I was the one who berated myself for taking up too much space.

Now, this isn’t to say that others didn’t play a part in how I felt about myself. I’ve spoken about my history of dieting and trauma and a lengthy series of unfortunate events.  I try to remind myself  of these occurrences every so often because I don’t want these memories to slide back into the deep dark confines of the shame that corroded my sense of self.

One of the many gorgeous things about being an adult is that I get to choose who and what take up time and space in my day. I get to choose what I hold on to. I get to choose what aspects of my self I allow to define me. I get to choose to not permit myself to be silenced. I get to choose to air my dirty laundry in the light of day. These are skills that I wish with all of my heart that I had learned a little earlier.

When I was imbued in self-hatred, I hated going to the doctor because I remembered that one time my doctor told me I would die early and alone. I ate with reckless abandon, as a big fuck you to the people who told me I should occupy my time with dieting. I refused to work out, because my father’s voice saying “you know you really should go for a walk” rang in my ears.

When I hated myself, I was consumed by the idea that if everyone else thought I was disgusting then I would allow myself to eat whatever I wanted, move as little as possible, and settle into the darkest version of myself I could imagine.

When I hated myself, these painful feelings had very little to do with how much I weighed on any given day.

The interesting thing about the debate currently rolling through the body loving blogosphere like a wild beast, taking prisoners and mucking about our lovely community, is that it has raised some extremely crucial questions.

  1. What does it mean to really love your body?
  2. Can you love an imperfect body?
  3. Can you truly be healthy at any size?
  4. Can you be a huge supporter of size-acceptance, self-love, and positive body image and  want to lose weight?

My answer to many of these questions is yes. Yes I can love my body at it’s current weight, and be present and self-aware enough to know when it’s time to reel it in a little. Yes I can love my body and all of it’s wonders and perceived flaws. Yes I am healthy at any size when I am taking care of the body that I’m in as if it is my own little blessed vessel and I am the captain. Yes I can be open-minded enough to acknowledge both sides of the debate.

Yes, I can choose who and what types of information I let hit me right to the core. I can choose how I let my image of myself and my attributes define me.

I can allow my body the respect it deserves to move slow, acknowledge it’s strengths and weakness, and work together with it in a tender partnership, instead of steamrolling over it’s modest needs with ideas about what I should be doing.

When you decide that you are worth the absolute best life that you envision for yourself, it begins with an honest state-of-the-union type conversation about where you’re at and what YOU need. I cannot reiterate enough that this is highly personal, and different for everyone. It is not up to us to judge the choices or decisions of someone else.

I truly believe that in this world, nothing is certain and that at the end of the day – you better cozy up to your self and make the best of what you’ve got.

Let’s spend some time today talking about what it is that we can do personally to make our bodies feel AMAZING and strong and worthy.

I’m going to kick this one off with saying that, right this second? I’m unplugging and embarking on a hot date with a tall drink of water and my yoga mat.

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