The Weight On Our Minds

40 Comments

The irony of tonight’s post does not escape me. I’m writing about why I don’t want to write about an all too popular topic. Namely that old chestnut – the body image debate. However before I weigh in, I need to provide some back ground information.

When I was 15 years of age I was hospitalized for anorexia, albeit briefly. Many of the people in my life now, are unaware of this. I rarely speak of the experience for a variety of reasons. Foremostly it was 27 years ago, back in the virtual prehistory before the digital age. Secondly by anorexic standards I was an under achiever. Finally looking at my flabby thighs nowadays I doubt anyone would believe I once had an eating disorder. Happily a short stint in a psych unit was all that was required to shock me out of it. Nonetheless for a young teenager it was a confronting experience. It gave me a startling glimpse into human frailty but that’s a bummer and not really what this post is about.

Anorexia is closely linked to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and I tell you from experience that the condition completely consumes you mentally. Every waking minute is spent thinking about food – how to avoid it, get rid of it and burn it off. Sufferers have very little capacity to left to focus on other goals which is ironic as they are overwhelmingly perfectionists.  Being anorexic and enjoying life are mutually exclusive.

We’d all agree that anorexia is an extreme state of being but I’m led to wonder how much thoughts of food and weight control impinge upon the lives of ordinary women. I would say that most of us carrying out our own mental battle of the buldge on a daily basis. We compare ourselves unfavorably to others and are rarely satisfied with what we see in the mirror even when our partners think its spectacular. We fret about social occasions that translate to opportunities for face stuffing and regularly contemplate starting a diet and exercise program  “tomorrow”. The constant calorie counting is as mind numbingly dull as it is time consuming. The pangs of guilt we feel when we have a transgression (and lets face it most of us have many) are life zapping.

Take these and shove them!

Take these and shove them!

I have nothing against eating well, staying fit and generally taking pride in your appearance. Its just that all the mental energy that goes along with it could be put to better use. I’d go as far as to say that the focus on food, weight and body image is holding women back. Imagine what we could achieve if we channeled all that angst into smashing the glass ceiling?  Before you accuse me of / congratulate me for embarking on a feminist diatribe, I’d like to acknowledge that the problem is increasingly relevant for men. So many dudes are giving over half their existence to the pursuit of physical perfection as a visit to any suburban gym will attest. The pressure on guys to look “cut” and “buff” is ramping up. Equality between the sexes (in this arena at least) means we’re all equally miserable.

We’re constantly flogged over the head with “love and accept your body” type messages but they never seem to cut through entirely. In some ways they exacerbate the problem by keeping our thoughts firmly (or not as the case may be) on our bodies. Its time we break free and start thinking about something else. Anything else.  To use a “Dr Philism” Mumabulous has “gotta step up to the plate”. I solemnly promise that this will be the last piece I write about body image.

Aaaaah I feel lighter already.

Let’s take the weight debate and “shove it”.

Love

Mumabulous


40 thoughts on “The Weight On Our Minds

  1. Too true. Sometimes all the debating just makes it worse. And anyway, if we start thinking about what else we want to do, we might find we get fit (whether mentally or physically) by default – most people don’t really think, and today, for my dream day, I just want to eat all day, or starve all day – society shouldn’t make it so that so many people need to take holidays from their own minds just to feel good. Great post.

  2. Brilliantly awesome post. And, it becomes so much less of a ‘problem’ when we stop focusing on it. I know. As a teenager I, too, was a perfectionist and extremely controlling with my body and food. The appeal and desire diminishes when the focus does. And ‘activity’ instead of ‘exercise to lose weight’… What a difference it could make to our lives and mindsets.

  3. Brilliant post.
    I could not agree more.
    The times in my life when I have been happiest with my body are those when I give it the least amount of thought.
    And I am pleased to say that now, with work, studying, and a family, I have zero time to consider my thighs.
    And I worked for a bit as a nurse on a mental health ward that catered to anorexic teenaged girls…it was terribly saddening. I think many people do not realise the extent the disease can take over someones life.

  4. I spend my whole, entire life thinking about food, how much I’ve eaten, my weight, blah blah. This is a great post Mumabulous. I waste so much time worrying and feeling guilty instead of just going for a goddamn walk.

  5. Could not agree more! Although its always easier said then done. As I get older I just want to feel healthier. Less and less do I care about the number on the scale or the jiggly bits on my bum and thighs.

  6. Brave post, Mumabulous. I applaud you for writing this but for also tackling the topic from a different perspective. And it’s always this time of year where we’re supposed to “lose that Christmas weight” or “get in shape for the summer and the new year” It drives me nuts.
    I’m not 100% happy with my body (I don’t think I ever have) but I know it’s strong. I know the most important thing is that I stay healthy – physically and mentally.

  7. I love this post. I wish I could worry less. It is such a waste of time. Rachel xx

  8. I admire your stance and your honesty, but I’m afraid I’m not thrilled with the image I see in the mirror. I yearn to find the willpower to do something about it. I don’t want to be skinny but I would like to be slim. Sorry, I know I’m letting the team down.

  9. I don’t know if it is a British thing or if this goes for all women but I think what also doesn’t help is that if you are comfortable in your skin and happy with your body then it is seen as arrogant or showing off to say so when asked. Stop shoving it in everyone’s faces you obviously must be lying etc. (disclaimer this is not me . . . See I’m doing it!)

  10. I think there are 2 options: get over it and be happy in your skin, or do something about it so that you become happy in your skin. My mental state and emotions are so much better when I am exercising often and eating well, and in looking after my body, it in turn looks after my mind, which makes me more prepared to face things like the glass ceiling and all the rest that life has to throw at us. I don’t think enough emphasis can be placed on the word “balance”.

  11. I think if you can just be mindful of what’s healthy and what’s not, and be able to make good decisions most of the time, then that’s what is important.

    #teamIBOT was here.

  12. You are right about shoving the scales for sure. I think when we think about our bodies (both men and women) it shouldn’t be about numbers on the scale or being extra-buff. It should be about health. I think only then will we be happy with ourselves. I know for me, exercising at the gym is very good for my mental health and has prevented me from being clinically depressed and anxious in the past few years. I recently started managing my diet better too because my family has a history of heart problems and I figured unless I wanted to undergo a bypass surgery in my 40s, I’d have to start counting calories and eating healthy. It’s all about having a middle ground rather than the extremes of anorexia/bulima or obesity.

    • Exactly – I’m in no way suggesting that we shouldn’t look after our health. I feel great when I do exercise. It gives me mental clarity and boosts the immune system as well as making me feel more confident about my appearance. Its just that we need to ditch the anxiety and obsessing that goes along with it.

  13. Spot on. Was nodding my head the whole way through. We all need to leave it behind and focus on other things.

  14. It’s courageous of you to talk about your experience with anorexia. My mother was a dietician and worked closely with teenage girls. I think the stuff she saw and heard had a big influence over the way she brought up my sister and I. I’ve written about body image before and keep coming back to the same thing, for me we have to choose to accept and love ourselves. It doesn’t just happen, we decide to and then remind ourselves every sing day. Great writing xx

    • Thanks Catherine – I dont really think its courageous given how long ago these events occurred but it did give me some insights into how an anorexic thinks. Sounds like your Mum is a wonderful woman who did a fantastic job with you and your sister as well as her patients.

  15. Great post and so very true. I am working on being accepting of myself and not being ruled by the numbers on the scale. Working at being a healthy me rather than a specific weight me. It isn’t easy but it is a work in progress.
    Have the best day !
    Me
    #IBOT visitor

  16. Thanks for sharing your own experience. I have never thought about my weight or really cared that much – but I’m also 100% aware that comes primarily from being a natural stringbean and having everyone tell me my ENTIRE LIFE that I’m ‘lucky’ I don’t have to worry about it.
    And watching joy in the faces of the people who have told me I’m ‘lucky’ as I balloon during pregnancy. Really? Does my getting bigger really make you all feel better about yourselves?! Because I hate to tell you, but I still don’t really think about my weight or care that much (except for the discomfort factor).
    I wish weight was a non-issue. But a lot – A LOT – has to happen in our world before that’s the case. I don’t think it’ll ever disappear.
    Love your last line. Let’s shove it indeed! x

  17. Yes, if only we could focus on health instead of a number on the scales! I only hope I can give my daughter the confidence she needs to avoid this obsession we have with weight. x

  18. I totally love this post, and you know certain people, like me, will never be really happy with their body image. I try, but for some reason I lack confidence in that area. I look back at my honeymoon photos when I was a svelte 62kg and went to the gym 5 times a week and I recall that even then I still didn’t feel it was enough. As I’ve matured, had 3 children, my attitude has changed. While I won’t ever really love how look, I have accepted that I am what I am, most days. If others choose to judge me because of my appearance, it’s on them. My biggest fear is passing on my insecurities to my daughter, I’d be devastated if she thought about herself the way I do. So if this isn’t a reason for me to accept and love myself a bit more than I don’t know what is. Thanks for sharing 🙂 Emily

  19. Great post! I’m just lucky to have a good metabolism, I eat healthy food because I like it but I don’t exercise much at all. It’s crazy the comments I can hear regarding the way I look. If I refuse to eat something I’ve been offered, some people would say: “Ah, is it because you want to stay skinny.” No, it’s just because I don’t feel like it… I agree with Lisa, we should focus on health. It’s not because you are skinny that you are healthy.

  20. Yes!!!! I used to be so thin I was constantly taunted about being anorexic.

    I don’t look like that anymore though!

  21. I love this. The problem is we all know that its a waste of time, yet we all get sucked into it – and I am one of the worst offenders. I have recently sworn off womens {huh} magazines. I have subscriptions to about FIVE in particular that I will not be renewing…and spending my money on home reno mags instead. I am offended by recent magazines with Pink on the cover going ON about losing 25kg post baby. Really? There are so many things about Pink that are 100 times more interesting that weight loss and workouts.

    • Sounds like a great choice to me. I particularly loathe the glam mags that run “love your body the way it is” type articles accompanied by an airbrushed photo of a size 8 Victoria’s Secret Model. As for Pink! Could she be joining the ranks of the “Stupid Girls?”.

  22. Talking about weight and body issues just makes me want to eat, I’m emotionally conditioned to reach for food – it could be worse, other members of my family reach for the bottle. I’ve spent years with diets hanging over my head, I’ve lost weight and gained it all back again and had to admit that I will never be skinny but I can be healthy and I wish that the focus was on health rather than weight. The message shouldn’t be ‘love your body’ it should be ‘love your healthy’.

  23. It’s funny how the older we get, the more comfortable we are in our own skin. Even when that skin is not as firm, toned, or even as it used to be.
    I agree. It’s all about being happy within ourselves 🙂
    xx

  24. I completely agree. Now I pay little attention to what I eat or when I exercise, and I realise how much these things used to completely preoccupy me.
    I think of Hilary Rodham-Clinton and a recent interview where she was asked about her wardrobe. Her response was “Would you ask a man the same question?” I wonder what women could achieve if we insisted on taking up the (soft, curvy, yet strong) space we inhabit.
    Step one to reclaiming that space is boycotting women’s mags. They are complete drivel, mere wrapping paper for the ads which tell us we need to look better.

  25. What a shame you had to go through that horrible experience as a youngster. Didn’t someone theorise that we only ever use 10% of our brains’ possible capacity at the best of times? Let alone when we fill 7.5% of that with worry about our big bums. I have known so many brilliant, funny, otherwise strong women to be let down by fundamental lack of confidence in their physical selves. It’s certainly a battle I still fight. Great post 🙂

  26. Please join us for a Friday Flash Blog, where you can share your favorite posting of the week and see what others are talking about at http://www.fridayflashblog.blogspot.com

    And be sure to sign up on our site to get an email notice when the next Friday Flash Blog is live.

  27. Great post! Found you through Flog Yo Blog Friday. http://www.dailymusingsbycarrie.blogspot.com

  28. Nope, I fibbed…it was Friday Flash Blog!

  29. This is awesome. It is better to take action than sit and worry about it.
    Kathy
    http://gigglingtruckerswife.blogspot.com

  30. Pingback: Terrible, terrible, terrible | housegoeshome

  31. I really think I love this post. I hate the days where I feel defined by my weight – I know I could shed a bit but it really does take a lot of energy thinking about it all and so I get tempted to swallow that thought with a ‘shouldn’t’ treat. Vicious cycle …… again
    x

  32. So very true. There are lots of preconceived ideas about our body image that we accept without questioning them and are truly damaging because they are simply unreal. Trying to achieve this ideal image (dictated by market most of the times) is a time consuming task that make us feel powerless and hopeless… Great post!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s