Monday, December 21, 2009


"The modern culture of dieting is based on the idea that the personality creates the body. Our size must be in some way voluntary, or else it wouldn't be subject to change. A lot of my misery over my weight wasn't about how I looked at all. I was miserable because I believed that I was bad, not my body. I felt truly reduced then, reduced to being just a body and nothing more.

Fat is perceived as an act rather than a thing. It is antisocial, and curable through the application of social controls . . . Whenever I went on a diet, eating became cheating. One pretzel was cheating. Two apples instead of one was cheating . . . It didn't matter which diet I was; diets have failure built in, failure is the definition. Every substitution--even carrots over broccoli--was a triumph of desire over will. When I dieted, I didn't feel pious for sticking to the rules. I felt condemned for the act of eating itself, as though my hunger was never normal. My penance was to not eat at all."

-Sallie Tisdale

"At one level I understood that the image of my face was merely that, an image, a surface that was not directly related to any true, deep definition of the self. But I also knew that it is only through image that we experience and make decisions about the everyday world, and I was not always able to gather the strength to prefer the deeper world over the shallow one. I looked for ways to relate the two, to find a bridge that would allow me access to both, anything no matter how tenuous, rather than ride out the constant swings between peace and anguish. The only direction I had to go in to achieve this was simply to strive for a state of awareness and self-honesty that sometimes, to this day, rewards me and sometimes exhausts me."

-Lucy Grealy

A few days ago I opened up the book, Minding the Body: Women Writers on Body and Soul. The books is a compilation of essays and short stories, by women writers, about anything related to the body. Some are about weight, body image, or infertility, the last one I read was by Lucy Grealy about her battle with jaw cancer at ten years-old, and chemotheraphy that left a large gash in her face. The writing is powerful and raw. I want to write like them.

Somedays I feel a large amount of confidence to say: I'll never be perfect and that's okay. Other days, well . . let me explain.

I walked into the store Forever 21 on Saturday night. I shouldn't have, but I did. I am not a trendy person. My standards for clothing are that they must be comfortable and mostly capable of a Downward Dog or other yoga pose, you know, just in case. My emphasis on clothing, hair, and overall appearance has changed drastically since I went to and returned from Cambodia. For the most part, that's been okay with me. Sure I see skinny, beautiful women, but I've been doing all right at saying: That is not my truth. I'm okay as I am.

I often lose sight of that truth though, especially when I find myself in a store surrounded my racks and racks of beautiful, trendy clothing that make me feel like a complete schlump. This was only furthered when I asked one of the skinny, stylish, over-mascara-ed workers, "I can't find my size in jeans. Where should I look?" She gave me a quick, disinterested look-over, let out a little "Ha" and said, "Yeah, we don't carry sizes that big" and went on folding clothes.

My weight and size seemed to actually grow and multiply in remarkable proportions as I stood looking at myself in the mirror: They don't carry sizes that big. They don't carry sizes for you. You are too big. I didn't need reminding, but her comment sure didn't help. I called Jeremy, "If ever you hear me say I'm going shopping, remind me that I hate it."

I walked into Forever 21 because I felt my wardrobe needed a pick me up.

I've been trimming my hair because I figure that will make me feel better about myself.

I started wearing make-up because I couldn't believe the state of my blotchy skin.

I dwell on food choices and exercise because some part of my believes that's all I'm worth.

I stepped on the scale last week, waiting for it to tell me, "Good" or "Bad." I've been "Bad."

To top it all off, last night I added blond highlights to my hair.

"Why?" Jeremy asked me.

"Well, I'm just tired of my dark hair. I used to be blond. I guess I wanted a change."

"Didn't you stop dying it a couple years ago?" he asked carefully. "Why did you stop?"

Dangit, he remembered. "Umm," I pondered, "I knew I didn't want to keep up with dying it. It was too much work."


"And," I admitted, "I wanted to just be who I was and stop fighting it."

I'm not saying that dying your hair is evil. Really, dying my hair isn't evil either. But our actions speak louder than our words. And I've learned that usually when I go about trying to "fix" myself with hair dye, sunless tanner, make-up, nail polish, and new clothes, what really needs attention is my soul.

Why do I feel the strong desire to be good enough? I'm not sure that wanting to feel pretty in-and-of-itself is a bad thing. But when my need to feel good enough, pretty enough, whatever-enough, dominates my thinking and I feel my worth depends on it, I've got problems.

We all want that "good enough" feeling. Women often want to feel attractive, beautiful, desired. Men want to feel strong, powerful, and capable. Jeremy and I have decided that the question, "Am I good enough?" isn't so bad, but the problem is who we are asking.


Anonymous said...

good call
Go you!
Go us!
Praise God