I remember meandering into a swimsuit shop at the mall a few years ago and picking up a size “small” that I wanted to try on, and, since I was unfamiliar with the store’s sizes, I asked the clerk, “do you think this will fit me?” She replied (in a pretty rude tone, in my opinion), “no, you need a large!”
In my recollection of the story, which may or may not have actually happened, I fling the suit at her chest, hanger and all, and stomp out of the store, huffing angrily.
What actually happened is probably more along the lines of the suit slipping out of my grasp and thudding onto the floor with a weak clamor. Then, embarrassingly ducking my head, and lunging out without another word.
Her comment may have been absolutely innocent; but for me, it was crushing.
I had worked so, so hard to have my body like this. Why couldn’t somebody acknowledge me for all my hard work, all the hours I put in to make my body look this way? These abs were NOT free. Anybody? Please?
I can joke about it now because I’m on the other side. But really, I am clear that these comments have made me stronger. All day long, you will hear triggering body comments about people’s bodies. Listen for them and you will hear them everywhere.
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How many times have you heard someone say “Are you going to eat all of that?”
In the olden days, I would have peeped up timidly “It’s not that much food” or “It’s mostly lettuce,” and then I might have tried to make it look smaller by moving the food closer together with my fork.
So what? I can walk around in life hiding from potentially triggering situations (and missing out on a lot of wonderful opportunities) or I can put myself out there, take a stand for myself and what I’m committed to, and keep creating what I want, regardless of what shows up that could trip me up.
Now, I say, “hell yeah, I’m going eat all that! Woohoo!” I celebrate.
I celebrate the abundance of food and I celebrate my now empowering relationship with food and my body. I can savor and enjoy food, free of worry about how many calories are in it or how it will impact my body. I can share it with others and enjoy the social communion of food.
I can eat because I’m hungry or just because I’m craving something. Nothing is wrong with either. I have created a fluid definition of health that encompasses how I feel about my body.
So how did I create this kind of freedom around my body? It was not easy and it was not quick. It was simple, however.
It requires being uncomfortable and being okay with being uncomfortable.
It requires having an incredible amount of self-compassion such that these triggering comments cannot impact my view of myself.
When I hear a comment that makes my stomach churn, I can take it with gratitude. I can say to myself, “Yes, that will help me grow.” I welcome everything and stand solid and firm. Bring it on.
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