So, I had a guest column appear in the Style section of last week’s Charlotte Observer. It was editted down a bit so, in honor of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, I thought I’d share the whole text here. Feel free to check out the Observer version here.
Oh, Kate. Sit down, honey. Have a Krispy Kreme doughnut. Or a salad. Or something. Anything that will keep you quiet for a minute and let you focus on what I am going to say. Asked by Women’s Wear Daily what sayings she keeps in the forefront of her mind to help her achieve success, Kate Moss, the supermodel with many an extra career available for the list, shared this nugget, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.”
Cue the guttural sound that escaped my lips when I first read this ‘news.’
“Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” is just the sort of mantra that women in leg warmers and side ponytails taped to their refrigerators in the 1980s. And it is just the kind of mantra that did no one any good. Something that pithy doesn’t remind you at your core who you are. It doesn’t inspire you to be your best self. It doesn’t bring you calm in the storm. It simply taunts you, makes you feel less than, wondering when and how and if you can ever reach the promised, undefined land of skinny. You can get here, it seems to tell us, as long as you taste nothing.
And we’ve had just about enough of that kind of message, don’t you think? Today, one out of every 100 women is anorexic. Eighty percent of American women are dissatisfied with their appearance. Seventy-four percent of all girls – yes, even elementary school girls- say they feel pressure to please everyone. And, yet, this insight: 65% of women say that if they could go back in time, they wouldn’t make themselves any skinnier. They would change the way they felt about themselves. And that is exactly the choice that we can make today.
Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels, Moss might say. But isn’t life itself about tasting? Not just food or drink, but adventure and promise and hope and whimsy and joy. Isn’t taste really just a metaphor for experiencing, for doing, for feeling? Doesn’t taste go beyond just being to feeling?
And when we taste life, when we have adventures and experience hope, promise, whimsy, joy, and, yes, even pain, when we challenge ourselves, when we improve, when we face our fears, isn’t that really when we grow, when we become our best selves, when we shine? When we engage in something bigger than ourselves and our reflection, don’t we begin to change the way we think and feel about ourselves? And isn’t the promise of that shining moment the one that should be at the forefront of our mind as we set out to achieve the success of our imagining?
It’s a new year. People have made resolutions that they are in the throws of keeping or breaking. Maybe you resolved to have this be the year that your collarbone rivals Kate Moss’s in its angles, maybe with that thinness you think you’ll finally be happy. But, here’s the truth. Achieving happiness is not about standing in front of the bathroom mirror assessing your collarbone. It is about stepping away from the bathroom mirror and into a life that is so expansive and meaningful that you recognize that the length of your hair, the width of your nose, the curve of your calves are not that significant in the grander scheme of things. Changing your mind so you begin to understand that what matters is how you engage the world, not the way you look doing it, is one of the most important things you can do on your quest to personal and even professional success. Turn a deaf ear to advice that will only make you feel less than, and, instead, step into the life of your imagining. Nothing looks as good as confidence feels.