How To Stop Hating Your Body
My mother was a skinny woman, with a tiny body ribs and shoulder bones that stuck out everywhere, a 23 inch waist and big ass Kardashian thighs and booty. But this was not 2018 when tiny waists and giant booties are all the rage. This was 1968 when TWIGGY was all the rage. My Mom believed that to be loved and loveable, she had to look like the societal ideal. Oh this wasn’t her fault. She was doing what the media told her to do and she didn’t quite believe (because of a totally physically abusive Father and an emotionally abusive mother) that she was worthy on her own. So she had to do something else to deserve to be loved and respected.
Twiggy began the era of the waif which set women out on a a quest to be waif like. Cute little elves with big eyes and golden hair, all eyes and eyelashes and cute little damsel in distress like.
No BING BAM BOOM there! When my mother saw that I too was developing her sexy Kardashian-like body, she freaked out (it was the 80’s we were still all about the waif). She said that boys wouldn’t like me if I had big thighs, she was a divorced single mom with no husband… my Dad’s new wife my (amazing) stepmom was waif-like with skinny little thighs, so I figured she was right. Men liked women who were waifs. The rest of us were worthless. I was worthless. So she sent me to Weight Watchers, she restricted my food, we gave out raisins for halloween and when I was good, my treat would be a rice cake with weight watchers margarine. What do you think? Do you think I developed a huge eating disorder and a hatred for my body? You bet! I HATED my beautiful curvy body. I thought it was disgusting. I starved it constantly, then fed it too much, then starved it again. But no matter how much I starved it, those slammin’ Kardashian thighs were still there.
But wait! It was the 90’s. Kim Kardashian was like in 5th grade. But who did we have instead? Kate Moss!
And my boyfriend at the time, well he loved Kate Moss. Know why? He told me he loved Kate Moss because she looked like his ex-girlfriend. And he had photos of Kate Moss plastered all over his room. Now, you would think that this would be a clear sign for me with my slammin’ hips and voluptuous booty to get the fuck OUT of that relationship. But, oh, remember my bad self-esteem? Where my Mom told me that I had to change my body so that boys would like me? So I went back to starving and starving and starving, my ribs sticking out all over the place, my head too big for my body, my brain in a constant fog… but my booty still BAM! Oh where or where was my prince Sir Mix-a-Lot when I needed him? Meanwhile, I was 22 years old and men were very, very interested in me. But know what? I had this eating disorder brain that tells you crazy things, like if a man is talking to you it’s because he’s making fun of you. If he tells you that you’re beautiful he’s lying because he wants to make fun of you, I mean, no man would like a woman with big thighs and a big booty right? That’s what I learned during the Jane Fonda craze. Meanwhile, I was in my 20s by this point, my boyfriend still wouldn’t take his photos of Kate Moss down and I was totally sick of my eating disorder. Eat starve eat starve eat starve eat starve eat starve… my body alternating between about 30 pounds either way. I was in a size 00 or a size 14. I did have some different sizes in my closet, but fortunately I mostly wore baggy brown corduroys and blue hoodies because it was the 90’s. Nobody really saw my body except for when the bones in my face were jutting out. And my friends pointed out that cigarettes and 40oz of Crazy Horse was not enough to eat in a day. Pshaw! I was 22 and again. It was the 90s!!!!!! 1997 to be exact. The Breeders! The Pixies! We lived in Boston! We didn’t eat! We smoked! And me… still with a booty. A big one. I cried… I worked at on Newbury Street for $5.00 an hour and used that money (about $575 a month after taxes before my $315 a month rent) to join a gym that cost $78 a month- Do you know how expensive that gym was in 1997? It was like my whole salary. But that booty! I had to get rid of those thighs and that booty. That booty got in the way of me being a real true live Indy Rock record store girl. I was not enough. Kate Moss was enough. Kim Gordon was enough. Kim Deal was enough. But me, I wasn’t a Kim or a Kate. I was a Rikki Lake. So I starved and starved and starved some more. Cigarettes! More cigarettes! No more Crazy Horse, too many calories. Cigarettes and pink wine (this was pre Rose’ all day, pink wine was a bad thing and my taste in wine was quite bad coming from the Bronx and also being basically a child at age 22).
My fight with my booty continued. And despite a steady diet of pink wine and cigarettes (and sometimes my bff Kristi would make me walk down the to the dodgy corner store on the road between Allston and Cambridge where the old Russian proprietor who we called “old one eye” (because she only had one eye) sold rice and mac & cheese filled with maggots. We liked “old one eye.” But it wasn’t a nice name to call her. However, we were only 22, not yet woke and a little uncouth. We would walk into One Eye’s to buy Kit Kats and chips and Kristi told me to just eat chips and KitKats, why the fuck not. And so I did because Kristi was tougher than me and I didn’t want to argue with her.
Anyway, I was starving, my ribs stuck out everywhere. I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I got fired from my job at Newbury Comics because I was supposed to be rude to customers but I was too nice and my managers yelled at me and I cried (true story). Anyway… I was not me. I didn’t accept me, I didn’t know who the real me was and I tried everything I possibly could to not be me.
But MEEEEEEEEE! Me was great. I was a nice, kind human being. I was soft and curvy and sweet and loving. And when I looked in the mirror I saw large kind brown eyes, a love and admiration for most people, and deep desire to help humanity. But somehow I thought I was worthless because of the way I was built.
A few years later my Mom passed away. She was young, only 54. She didn’t die from her eating disorder, but she died with it, still believing that her butt and thighs were a deficit, that her cellulite was wrong.
It wasn’t worth it.
A life striving to be something that you are not.
What if you could take who you are and just be that and really, really be you. Be 1 million percent you!!!!!!!!
What if you could take what you were given and be that amazing person rather than the 8% of women who look like supermodels and use Instagram filters?
What if you could look in the mirror and decide what makes you beautiful?
What if YOU could choose your perception of what you think is beautiful?
Who is your social media filled with? I know that most of my patients fill their Instagram feeds with popular models and fitness gurus. But then, we are following women who represent how about 8% of the world can look.
And it messes with our heads. We believe, because this is the media that we are seeing and exposed to, we believe that this is the only way to be beautiful. But it’s only one small way. But what about the other 92% of ways to be beautiful? What if you’re not tall, white, blond and skinny? What if you’re short? What if you’re Asian? What if your skin is Brown? What if you’re facial features are more ethnic and less Eurocentric? What if you’re trans what if your gender doesn’t follow anything that you’re seeing in the media? Then what choice do you have than to come to the conclusion that you’re not beautiful because you don’t look like these models.
These beauty standards have been fed to us because for so long we have been a captive audience!
But it’s SO DIFFERENT NOW!!!!! You actually get a choice of what your media is!!! You get to change your perception of what is beautiful and the more you see images of women and men and others who pose in beautiful ways and feel beautiful, yet not conforming to the stereotypes of what is beautiful, the more you are able to change your own perception of what is beautiful, the easier it is for you to see yourself as beautiful!
How to Stop Hating Your Body? You can stop hating your body not by changing your body, but by changing your perception of what is beautiful. It’s that simple.
It doesn’t matter what size you are, what shape you are, and even if you fall into the socially acceptable standard of white, petite and blond, even if you fall into that 8% standard of beauty, still follow people of all different shapes, ethnicities, and genders… it’s imperative that we challenge our perception of what beauty is, not just for the people around us but for ourselves as well. There’s no reason to look in the mirror and grab your cellulite and say “ick, how do i make this go away?” You can’t! 98% of you women have it. Wouldn’t it be amazing if instead of looking in the mirror and scanning for “what is wrong with me?” to look in the mirror and scan for “what is right with me?” Look at my cute nose, look at my long eyelashes, look at my beautiful tight curls, look at how graceful my belly rolls are, they are soft, desirable, squeezable and safe and comforting. Instead of scanning for what you hate, try to scan for what you like. I like my eyes and my eyelashes a lot. Oh and I finally have embraced my booty and my thighs.
I purposely have my social media filled with images of folks who don’t fit into the typical beauty standard. This is how I start to see all kinds of people (including myself) as beautiful. Beauty isn’t a blueprint, it’s a perception, it’s subjective. And you can change that perception.
Follow people on Instagram who challenge your perception of what beauty is.
Some examples of people on Instagram who are helping to disprove the dominant paradigm. There are many, many, many to follow:
Naomi of diet culture sucks
Eff Your Beauty Standards
(trigger warning, she is a personal trainer and trains in bikinis and sports bras…. and does sell her fit mom guide… BUT… she had a body that is a normal persons body… she’s not extra thin, she shows her cellulite and is like, “guys! It’s okay!” she shares recipes and encourages everyone to eat t good big healthy hearty meals. Her body is that typical pear shaped body and she just rocks it. She is shows all the parts that people could perceive as flaws, and keeps us from thinking that there is something wrong with us because we’re not perfect. She doesn’t alter her instagram pictures for perfection, that’s part of why I like her so much.
Nia – The Friend I Never Wanted discusses her ED recovery
Beyond Binary Boxes
What about you? Who do you follow? How have you taken steps to change your perceptions of beauty?
This blog post was originally an answer on Quora to the question: How Do I Stop Hating My Body?