I did some really fun Q&As with some fantastic bloggers over the course of the last month so I thought I’d do a little round up of some of my favorite questions today and also introduce you to some great bloggers out there.
From The Bullpen:
You have always been one of the most confident people I know. How did you reach this place of joy with your body?
Wow, thank you (and I hope that’s confident in a good way and not in some obnoxious way)! For a really long time, I struggled with how I was different. And then I ultimately came to this moment where I realized that waiting for a consistent reaction to my looks, my reality might mean that I was going to wait for a long time— even forever because I couldn’t control how other people took me in. All I could control was how I embraced myself. And that was a big first step to feeling peace with my physicality. From there, I decided that I would do my best to treat my body well and that the journey was really the point—not getting to a destination of thinness or long, raven hair or whatever the case may be- but journeying through how to love and be loved which ultimately makes me feel much better than thinness or long hair ever could.
If I had to describe how I feel about my body now, it would be peace. My body’s not as strong as I’d like for it to be and it’s not as picture-perfect as some bodies are but it has truly never betrayed me. That is not to say that I have never wished that it looked different. There have been those times. What I mean by saying that it has never betrayed me is that it has gotten me through everything I have asked of it—100+ mile bike rides, long hikes, night times spent patrolling a beach in Trinidad to protect leatherback turtles, waking for every wailing episode of my son’s infancy (and there were so many) and then sustaining me through the next day in a way that allowed me to appropriately mother despite the lack of sleep. It has done everything I have asked of it and, for a long time, it did it with very little gratitude from me. When I think about how unkind I have been with my thoughts toward my body while it has simultaneously been so kind to my soul with all that it has allowed me to accomplish, I am humbled by what has been my own personal unkindness in the past. I wish to not ever be that unkind to the vessel that I’ve been given to enjoy and experience this life again. So, that’s my promise to my body. You’ve been good to me. I will be good, in all of its manifestations, back.
From Thighs and Offerings:
Which entry was most difficult to write?
The entries that were most difficult to write were the ones that were inspired because of a vulnerability I witnessed. Whether it was a girl who confided in me that she thought she was fat or an ex-boyfriend who cheated, I had a hard time stomaching that I was using an experience with that person as a lesson for the book. I reconcile those things by trying to hide identifying details and focusing on the lesson, but it’s still hard for me. It is not like people who knew me years ago knew I was going to one day be a writer. In fact, I had a friend call me today worried that she was the person I referenced in one of my passages (she wasn’t), and that was just a humbling reminder of the discomfort that I can cause someone who is or was in my life as I try to provide comfort to others.
From Medicinal Marzipan:
What advice might you give for someone who believes their body image and self image to be beyond repair?
Nothing is ever beyond repair. A few years ago, it occurred to me that life keeps handing you the lesson you need to learn until you learn it. What I mean by that is that there are moments sent to us for our own betterment and education. We can choose to learn those lessons the first time we are sent them, but we often don’ t. The next time the lesson comes around, the volume on it is turned up a little to make us less comfortable with not learning it. Still, we might not learn it. Then life turns the volume up further, to an eventual crescendo, until we learn the lesson.
For the person who believes their body image and self image is beyond repair, it’ s not. What is really going on is that you’ ve missed the lessons that would take you out of that darkness. First and foremost, you might need to try therapy. Therapy, I promise, is about the finest investment you can make in yourself. But finding the right therapist is like finding the right partner. The first therapist you see is not necessarily the right therapist for you. Persevere if therapy really needs to be part of your tool kit.
Beyond therapy, intentionally engaging in your life is the greatest threat to negative body image and self image. Make the decision that you will never allow yourself to feel that way about yourself again and then make choices that move you forward. And, remember, it’ s a journey, not an endpoint.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned while working on the book?
I had this moment where it crystallized for me that beauty standards can keep us so obsessed that we are truly oppressed. When we become consumed with our appearance, we are left with little room to think about much else. And when we are unable to become fully possessed of ourselves, when we are unable to recognize what makes us great or unique and instead wallow in what makes us—in our minds—“less than” or “different,” we are, in truth, oppressed, unable to access our own empowerment. The world is too rich and has too many needs. All of us- each one of us- need to be operating from a place of our own personal power.
From Imperfect Spirituality:
What is self acceptance? Does self acceptance mean we shouldn’t work to get fit, lose weight, become healthier or improve our physical self?
For me, self-acceptance is the notion that I am not fundamentally wrong because of my history or physical body. It’s the realization that I am fundamentally right because I am neither my history nor my body. It’s the choice to recognize my humanity just as I recognize and respect the humanity of others.
That said, it doesn’t mean that we get an out for how we treat our body. Our body is our vehicle of expression. It is what allows us to experience, enjoy, and grow from life. If we don’t reasonably maintain our body, we diminish our capacity to experience, love, and grow and, that, too, is a form of paralysis. And so one aspect of the Beautiful You journey is considering how we can more thoughtfully honor our physical body so that it is capable of doing what we ask of it. That does not require a certain physical look, but it does require an honorable consideration.