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Why Can’t Our Bodies Be Okay?

Often times I run into women—in my practice, in my life—who have everything going for them. They seem fit, look great, are brimming with pep and energy, yet are stuck on losing weight (they insist) in order to be happy. Maybe it’s three pounds or 15 or 100 they’d like to shed. Sometimes it’s enough that people would notice and sometimes no one ever would. Believe me, I recognize that it’s no fun being fat in this society, but it’s also no fun feeling badly about your body.

The point is that I wonder what would happen if women let their weight loss dreams go. The “excess” weight doesn’t necessarily inhibit their being attractive, happy, healthy, or successful, so what’s really going on? Several things. 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 the bags under her eyes 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 AS IS. I know: I am woman too!

There’s a 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 simply awful about our small breasts or big pores and some woman who also has small breasts and big pores—or some equally perceived egregious 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 willfully blind to her defects. 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 agonize about small breasts and big pores? Hasn’t someone told her we’re not meant to feel our bodies are okey-dokey as they are?

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 about simply saying thank you and leaving it at that. Moreover, how about silencing that inner critic that can’t wait 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. Instead, we have to light the path ourselves, so, go on, get up, get out there, and grab yourself a candle.