Sometimes I view my body in much the same way that I viewed the eel’s. My cousin took several pictures of me swimming in the ocean with my parents that day and when I looked at them, they sort of took my breath away, because I am not used to seeing my body in such an objective way. In several of the oceanic pictures, my back is to the camera and one can plainly see my full figure. It was a little startling to view at first, because normally I do not think of myself as being “fat.” (I wanted to show you one of these pictures, but I couldn’t find one where I could crop out my parents.) I don’t think of myself as being thin either-I just think of myself as being myself! It’s funny, because during my more eating disordered days from before I was fat, I often complained about feeling fat, which really meant that I felt gross or ugly or out of control. Now that 1., I love myself more and 2., I am more self- aware and mindful of my body, I now know that fat is not a feeling and so I no longer say that I “feel fat.” Certainly there are times when I feel gross or ugly or out of control, but I can now separate those painful feelings from mere physical facts. It’s amazing though that spending a long time looking at these pictures of myself nonjudgmentally (a DBT skill) really helps me accept and appreciate my body. I always thought eels were supposed to be ugly and when I was younger I thought all fat people were ugly too-now I know that beauty can be found in all things and beings. Even if one is not beautiful in the way that society defines it, one’s true beauty, or inner light, can shine from within and is available to all those with a heart open to Love (paraphrased from the religious section from Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth).
Here is a picture of me in the water that I think it is an incredibly cute picture of me! I look a little coquettish twirling my hair around my finger, as if I am flirting with King Neptune.
Navigating through the lies of society’s beauty myth can be suffocating and drown out the truths that our own bodies have to tell. Just like in this picture, sometimes we can barely keep our heads above water.
My psych medication makes it very easy for me to gain weight and while I am still very healthy, I do not want to keep gaining-it is very expensive to keep buying new clothes and each time I go up a size, I have to wage an internal psychological war in order to restore myself to sanity and serenity. With this in mind, I visited my old nutritionist who I had not seen in three years right before the trip. She specializes in eating disorder recovery, so I knew that she would approach our session in a caring, non-threatening, non-dieting, and non-restricting way. It was a great session and I feel very lucky to have a nutritionist who is so great-I know that a good nutritionist or dietician is very hard to find. We talked about how much I normally eat in a day and we made a rough meal plan. The meal plan is just a rough guide to follow, but really what we are working on is becoming more mindful with my body. Mindfulness is a DBT skill and even the nutritionist commented that it would reflect my current therapy nicely. The goal is to eventually get to a point where I don’t need a meal plan and I will be in touch with my body enough that I can intuitively eat healthily. I have two main issues that we are addressing: 1. I graze throughout the day, eating when I am hungry and when I am not, and 2. I have a lot of pain problems that prevent me from being to tell if I am hungry or not. On this vacation, I am practicing being more mindful of my food, which really is great, because by focusing my attention on my food and my body, I am enjoying and appreciating the experience of eating that much more. Also, I am keeping track of what I’m eating and how I feel on an app that I downloaded on my smartphone called Doc’s Diet Diary. I think it will be interesting to see just how often I experience pain and how it affects how I eat. The app also lets you print out a report, which could be really handy. Already I have seen that I feel more pain than I thought I did during mealtimes and so I just might have to take the report to my doctor.
How all this relates to the beauty myth is that I want to be very clear that I am not dieting or trying to make myself look a certain way in order to please society. My nutritionist looked me in the eye and said to me, “This is not a diet. This is only a rough guide to help you. Follow it loosely.” Our goal is get me more in touch with my body, to trust its own hunger/fullness cues, which goes against all that society and consumerism tries to shove down our throats. Consumerism wants us to always be on a diet, so that we will always buy the latest diet products. Being in tune with our own bodies, so that the only products we buy are the foods within our diet would put the billion dollar diet industry out of business.
Yesterday I showed you a picture of myself without any makeup on and said that I liked it. Here is another one that I like even more:
I call it, “Wild Hair Me.” Of course, we also spent some time at the beach on day three and I emerged from the waves with wild and unruly hair. I felt fun and happy, which I feel this picture conveys.
Day three was my day to cook and I made the same dish that I made on Mother’s Day and everyone seemed to enjoy it. So far, I have been enjoying myself so much on this vacation that the experience seems surreal, because it seems so far removed from real life. Just like the mindfulness that I am working on with my nutritionist, I am very mindful that these days are moments to be treasured. I must use their memories to bring a smile to my face during days when life is tough again.