A version of this post was included in the “She’s Eating That” booklet in fall 2011, and several people have said how useful they’ve found it, for themselves and their friends. So here it is, for everyone to read:
No one asked your permission before they put toxic thoughts about your body in your head. No one waited until you could give informed consent and then said, “I’d like to tell you what’s wrong with your body; would that be okay with you?”
No one said, “Would it be all right if I say how broken and ugly and inadequate you are?”
No one stopped to find out if it was okay before they told you all the made-up, fictional reasons you should feel bad about yourself.
They just knew they could make a profit if you hated yourself.
No one asked your permission to put those thoughts and beliefs in your head, but there they are. And each of us has the job of finding the beliefs we’re not interested in carrying with us anymore, uprooting them, and finding something new and healthier to take their place.
It’s not easy – it’s not even simple.
And you can get by without ever managing it; most people do in this culture, which is so inherently toxic. But with practice, you can change your brain and live in the center of your own power.
Anyone who tells you that your body is anything other than the beautiful, glorious MIRACLE that it is, is probably, as they say in “The Princess Bride,” selling something. Don’t pay attention to those voices that tell you that you are broken. They are ignorant and they are selfish.
Pay attention instead to the moment by moment beat of your heart, the rise and fall of your lungs, the regular oscillation of hormones, the unparalleled complexity and power of your human brain, and notice how whole you are, how healthy. Listen to the movement of blood through your veins and recognize what an astonishing, breathtaking work of art you are.
Pay attention to the sensual delights of food—the way chocolate melts on your tongue, the way chicken soup really does feel good for your soul, the way a meal prepared with love seems to taste so much better.
And pay attention to the other sensual delights of being alive. Listen to a loved one’s heartbeat. Notice the rain on your skin, notice the sun on your skin, notice the wind on your skin. Notice the position of your spine and the feel of ground under your feet.
Live inside your humanity. Pay attention this, this moment, this heartbeat, this exhalation, this flash of eye contact, this easing smile.
Live inside beautiful.