I have been on the hunt for a wedding dress and while in the process 2 things happened:
#1. I have been once again bombarded with images that I normally do not add into my life vocabulary. Images of boney, uncurvey, super thin, airbrushed models. Images that are not designed to make us as the reader feel confident, rooted and in self love; but are designed to make us feel an inner void and induce feelings of inadequacy.
#2. An old haunting voice came back to visit, one that compared me to these false images of femininity and left me feeling less than amazing. Suddenly I found myself trapped in a comparison game - me against the false image that our society tells us is woman. Hell No. I'm putting a drastic Goddess STOP on this.
So, for 2 weeks I have been pondering the heavy topic of body image and I have a message to share.
All my life I had a “dancers body”, it was in part because as a kid and teenager I was heavily engaged in the dance community, which meant I spent up to 15 hours/week dancing – aka: intense exercise. But it was also due to the fact that I come from a family of healthy lean people – I have thin genes. I also grew up with a health conscious Mother, and a really holistic Grandmother. When I entered into grade 6 and studied microorganisms in science I discovered my passion and interest for alternative ways of thinking about food and diet – and I become obsessively afraid of food born illness. I decided at that time I would become a vegetarian – my Mum let me, but due to my young age and lack of knowledge at the time - it didn’t last long. What did last however was a keen interest and passion for food, health and Self-Love.
Post high-school I was always in the fine line between being passionate about foods and obsessive about my own deranged body image. On one hand, I remember countless hours spent researching the power of different foods, and I remember writing up an entire report on diabetes for my aunt, for fun – this was what I did for FUN. I loved food; I loved the power it had – I still love it. On the other hand I remember staring at myself in the mirror and despising the girl who stared back at me. I was dreadfully uncomfortable in my own body. I was frustrated and sad. I knew on a rational and cognitive level that these feelings I had made no sense, but the reflection that I saw was like some sort of fucked up mirage. I saw myself through the veil of self-hatred, which happens to disfigure reality in a profound way.
For me, my eating issues were pretty hidden. I loved working out – I always have. I also loved food – healthy food, hell, I was even IN school at the time studying nutrition – no one (other than my Mum, my Gramee and my Aunt) would have guessed what I was battling with under the surface. For me this “healthy way of living” was an inner prison of obsessive thinking, comparing myself to others and self-hating. I would weigh myself daily, record EVERY ounce of food that I ever consumed (which was not a lot!), and cut calories wherever I could – Salsa and carrots anyone? It was a damn prison. It took over my mind, my soul and my heart. And I was alone – I knew that my 117lb, blond haired self could not seriously talk to anyone about this without them thinking I was completely off my rocker. At that time if I ate a “bad food” I would have shame and regret for weeks! If I gained on the scale I would be set into panic. This dark self-hating cloud literally ruled my thoughts, and I hid it from people – suffering in silence.
Because I was neither anorexic (although looking back, I would say I was pretty damn close) nor bulimic (although I would be lying to you if I told you I never tried that route, puking just wasn’t for me) I could justify my behaviour to the outside world, saying that I didn’t have an eating issue. However I knew full well in my soul that something was not right, however I had no idea how to get out. Now, almost 10 years later I would say that I was suffering from “Orthorexia” – which is defined as an unhealthy obsession with “healthy” foods. (I quoted “healthy” because JUST eating raw veggies and no good quality fats, fermented food, protein or complex carbs is NOT, I repeat NOT healthy!!!) And if you couple that up with a sheer lack of self-love you wind up with an angry, lost, self hating, frustrated lonely 20 year old – and that was me. That was me from the ages of 17-22. I was fucking trapped.
I’m deeply saddened looking at pictures of myself back then, it hurts me knowing the hold this issue had over me. 117lbs and people would always tell me how “lucky” I was that I was thin. They would tell me how “good I looked”, and I loved that – I thrived on that. But now that I have learned to cultivate self-love in my own life – I weep for who that girl was and the inner torture she was dealing with. If I could, I would reach out and hug her. And I gotta say it - how sad is it that I was thriving on a compliment that was given to me on a body that was literally being starved - something is wrong with this picture.
I remember being in Australia and something drastically switching in my mind-set. I was eating ice cream with no regret. I was eating food, real food not calorie free-made-in-a-lab bullshit “food” that fed my body image and eating disorder; but instead, I was eating real-whole-food and not feeling guilty. Suddenly my food intake didn’t determine my self-worth. Suddenly the number on the scale didn’t determine how loveable I was. And I stared to gain weight. And I slowly started to be comfortable in my skin.
How? Well, this is where we whirl back into the land of cultivating Self-Love. Surrendering to what is. Learning to truly nourish our bodies. My thoughts shifted from a constant inner war to a divine line of communication between my soul and my body. I have, with a lot of practice, learned to finely tune my ears and soul into listening to the subtle waves of communication that my body gives me. I have learned to eat with consciousness, to chew my food and to feel intimately connected to the food I consume. I take time to thank Mother Nature for the miraculous gift that I am consuming. I take time to learn about how food grows, and how it interacts in my body. I have spent time learning and understanding what nourishment means.
Also, and arguably the most important (in my humble opinion), is that I have spent countless hours learning to love myself, to forgive myself and to feel comfortable in my own skin. Now, I fluctuate in my weight and I do not obsessive about the scale or the food I eat. I take pride in choosing foods that deeply nourish my body, and activities that deeply nourish my soul. I enjoy working out, and I love the summer months when I am heavily into running stairs and my butt and thighs get so big that my winter pants are too tight to get past my muscular legs. I take pride in the fact that I can do pullups, I like keeping up with the boys in the gym. I feel proud when I am honouring my body and cultivating nourishment and self love.
So here is the thing I tell my beautiful clients… I tell them to thoughtfully eat, I tell them to know where their food comes from, I tell them to create a sacred eating space and chew their foods. I remind them of the importance of water, fermented foods, liver loving foods and healthy fats. And you know what? Sometimes this does not equate to weight loss, often times, in fact it doesn’t. But being a beautiful women means accepting your stunning feminine body – curves and boobs and all. It means acknowledging that simply having a body is a gift; it means acknowledging that to be a female is a divine honor. It means we quit with this insane war on our bodies and we become consciously engaged in learning to adore the beautiful selves we are. Cuz’ guess what ladies – all Goddesses have curves. The airbrushed illusion you see in the media of an underweight, curve-less, bony women, is just that – an illusion. It’s not divine. It’s not feminine. It’s a computer made image that should not in ANY way effect how you feel about your own beauty. Open your heart and your soul and your eyes to the lie that we are being fed and start spending your time intimately and intentionally falling in love with the beautiful being that you are. You deserve that.