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Body Grievances

Often times I run into women—in my practice, in my life—who have everything going for them, look great, seem full of pep and energy, yet are stuck on losing weight—they insist—in order to be happy. Maybe it’s three pounds or fifteen or 100. Sometimes it’s enough that people would notice and sometimes no one ever would.

Anyway, the point is that I wonder what would happen if these women let their weight loss dreams go. The “excess” weight doesn’t necessarily inhibit their being attractive, healthy, or successful, so what is it really all about? My guess is that there are a couple things going on. First is that we have few if any role models of women feeling okay about their bodies. When was the last time you heard someone, a female someone, say she liked her body just as it is? I don’t honestly recall ever hearing that comment. Even if a woman feels comfortable at her weight, she complains about her thinning hair or her bad skin or the fact that her fingernails keep splitting. Or she’s too short-waisted or her feet are too large. We are simply not used to saying OUR BODIES ARE OKAY.

Which leads me to the second reason that we don’t hear women saying they are content with their appearance. How might the rest of us react? Let’s say we’re feeling just awful about our small breasts or big pores and some woman who maybe also has small breasts and big pores—or some equally egregious perceived body defect—says she has no problem with how she looks. I’m not sure our first reaction would be, Gee, that’s swell, I’d like to think the way she does. Hopefully we might, but I suspect there’s an equal possibility that we’d view her as unrealistic or in denial. We might wonder where she gets off ignoring or accepting an imperfection that brings us to our knees. We might see her as arrogant or ignorant—doesn’t she know she’s supposed to care about small breasts and big pores? Hasn’t someone told her we’re not meant to feel our bodies are okey-dokey as is?

Rather than waiting to find that woman out there who feels fine about her body so you can become like her, why not become her? When someone says something nice about your body, how ‘bout simply saying thank you and leaving it at that. Moreover, how ‘bout silencing the voice in your head that is ready to crank out those body grievances: Yeah, thanks, but you haven’t seen my jiggly thighs or my bony shoulders or the rough patches on my heels. Please, enough is enough. This is an instance when there are not a lot of role models out there to show us the way. We have to light the path ourselves, so, go on, get up, get out there, and grab yourself a candle.