I had an epiphany while walking through the grocery store on my lunch break today. We had an 80’s themed dress up day today (why yes, I do work at a bank, why do you ask?) and I was strolling around in my pink leg warmers and bubble skirt. I tried to tone down the outfit a little before I left but there’s only so much you can do without taking off the whole costume. So needless to say, I was feeling a little silly. But I decided I didn’t care because it was a costume and I was having fun wearing it so who cares what anyone thinks?
Oh. My. God. Who cares what anyone thinks? I realized suddenly that that little rhetorical question I had asked myself regarding my silly costume could, and maybe should, be applied to every single day. Who cares what anyone thinks? When had I started caring what people think? I certainly have vivid memories of teenage me with a gaggle of friends patronizing malls in tutus. Or wearing matching outfits to sing karaoke at a friend’s family reunion. Or being die-hard “groupies” of a high school classmate’s band, following them around to all their local shows and screaming our heads off from the audience, even if we were the only ones there. I can remember being silly and crazy and outgoing but they’re all distant memories. And now that I think about it, they’re all from high school or shortly thereafter. It’s like becoming an adult sapped the life out of me.
But that’s not the real reason, obviously. The real reason is that I wasn’t particularly prepared for the pressures that would be placed upon me. (A is for alliteration!) And so I closed up. My close group of friends disseminated, including my best friend in the world moving halfway across the country, which left me without a support network as I was just starting to find myself. I’d always been depressed and self-conscious but I’d also always had friends more outgoing and confident than I and so they were able to pull me up with them. Apparently I didn’t actually learn from them as they were doing so, I just went along for the ride, because as soon as they weren’t there I could no longer be confident and outgoing and crazy. I closed up.
No more. I’m done being the silent girl in the corner. From now on, I’m choosing to have fun in life. I’ve decided not to care what people think because if they judge then they’re probably not people I want to hang with anyway. I’m going to stand tall and love myself and be me. Who’d athunk a little trip to the grocery store could inspire all this? 😀
I refuse to be a victim anymore. I will not continue to succumb to the propaganda of the diet and weight loss industries. To paraphrase the lovely Ragen Chastain (who I believe is herself quoting someone- CJ Legare? I can’t be sure, but regardless both those ladies are awesome and you should check them out) I refuse to allow my self-esteem to be taken from me, cheapened and then sold back to me at a profit. I refuse to hate my body just because someone (or everyone) tells me I should.
I took Tae Kwon Do for a few years in middle school (in fact I’m thinking about getting back into it). One of the first things you learn in the self-defense aspect is that you’re only a victim if you allow yourself to be one. Victimhood is a choice. Being a victim of circumstance is obviously not a choice (natural disasters, violent crime, etc), but choosing to remain a victim once shit’s gone down is entirely on you. Crap stuff happens to people all the time but when it does you have a choice. You can wallow in your misery and play the victim card and people will feel bad and help you out for a while, or you can accept what has happened and then try to change it or prevent it happening again. I am accepting that I have allowed the diet industry to get in my head and I accept that I believed their lies for so long. It’s done, I can’t change it so I’m not going to bother worrying or beating myself up about it. I accept that I’ve been victimized and that I’ve victimized myself. I also refuse to do it any longer.
I will not be told that I am not good enough by complete strangers. I will not let a group of powerful, wealthy, sick-minded individuals convince me that my body is unworthy, especially not when they stand to make a profit from me believing their lies. I will not count calories, anally tracking every unit of energy that passes through my body, hoping to strike some magical balance between the amount of energy my body needs and the amount I’m told I should give it until it achieves its “perfect shape” (incidentally, those numbers are about 1700 and 1200, respectively. I am just realizing how very little sense it makes to only allow your body 2/3 of the energy it needs to survive). I will not eat packaged diet food that is sold under the guise of “healthy” when it would be far healthier to consume their full-fat, -calorie, -sugar, -whatever counterparts. I will not buy clothes that “slim” or “mask flaws” I will not force myself to do exercises I hate for a predetermined amount of time as punishment for the food I’ve eaten.
What will I do? I will tell myself every day that I love myself, and I love my body and that I am beautiful and intelligent and worthy of being liked. I will allow myself to eat anything I want while keeping focus on healthy, whole foods. I will start a work-out program doing something I like for the sole purpose of physical fitness (not body shape). I will allow myself wiggle room on the days and duration of my work outs. I will try my very hardest to pass this message along to anyone who will listen. I will start with my little sister. I will not let her go through the same torment that I did.
Today I have decided to not hate my body. It’s a radical move for a girl who has never once liked how she looked. For a girl who has grown up knowing that she’ll never be good enough, that her butt will always be too big and her arms will always jiggle just a little too much. For a girl who’s been learning to hate her body since she can remember, it’s a radical move to decide to think otherwise.
And I’m scared. It’s really terrifying to decide not to hate something you’ve hated your whole life. I’m scared I won’t be able to do it, that I’ll never come to terms with how I look and I’ll be right back where I started, months or even years from now. I’m scared I’ll be judged, that people won’t think I deserve to love my body since it isn’t perfect, and I’m upset that that scares me, because I should only care about how I feel. And more than anything, I’m scared I’ll gain weight by giving myself permission to be as I am and not be perpetually dieting or thinking about dieting. Even though what I’m doing now clearly isn’t working, I’m scared that changing my approach to eating and my body will make things even worse.
But it has to be done. I have to do something. I cannot continue to think and feel the way I do or I won’t survive. I’m so sick of being depressed all the time, so sick of constantly beating myself up every time I eat something. I’m so sick of trying to force myself to get on the treadmill to burn off the calories I just ate. I want to eat good, healthy food just because it’s delicious. I want to eat fruits and veggies most of the time, but I also want to be able to have a piece of cake if I want one with no guilt too. I want to go to the gym not as a punishment but because working out makes my body feel good and relieves stress. I want to get healthy for the sole purpose of being healthy. I don’t want to want to lose weight anymore, but I can’t help it. I want to lose weight more than anything in the world. But I’m not allowing myself to have that goal anymore. It is destructive and I’m done.
From now on, health is my only goal. It’s an idea that’s been floating around in my head for almost a year. I tried it once before, focusing just on health and ignoring weight, but I slipped right back into diet mentality not to long after. This time it’s for good. Today I pull the trigger and there’s no going back.