Updated: May 22, 2020
Before we dive in: I recommend reading parts 1 & 2 of this series, Health At Every Size: The Evidence, and How My Herbalism Has Changed Around Food if you haven't already. I also want to thank the artist and photographer Shoog McDaniel for the beautiful images in this piece.
When I take stock of my effort to heal my body shame, my participation in diet culture, and my relationship with food, I see that the healing has been bigger than I could have imagined.
My appreciation for beauty in the world has expanded, and not just to include more diverse human bodies. I have more capacity to feel pleasure and enjoy experiences, not despite my body, but because of my body.
I freed up so much energy, time, and thought space when I stopped obsessing over my food choices. What percent of your energy do you estimate you currently spend on the effort to change your body? What could your life be like if you spent that energy elsewhere? I've poured mine into my business, into my creative life, and what I now realize is true self care. I've accomplished things I used to think were beyond my reach.
When self care meant the pursuit of weight loss (or a deliberate breaking of the weight loss rules), I was doing myself a disservice. I was telling my body that it was wrong, that it was a problem to be fixed. Now self care is a celebration of my body as it is, an act of reverence for it, a devotion to the divine.
If Love is the creative force responsible for our existence, then I am Love embodied. So are you. Right now. There's nothing you have to do. You've made it. Every ounce of you is sacred.*
It's no accident that we're encouraged to reject our earthly vessels, it serves the patriarchy quite well. Women** especially are socialized to be preoccupied with literally making ourselves smaller. Roxane Gay, in her book Hunger: “This is what most girls are taught — that we should be slender and small. We should not take up space. We should be seen and not heard, and if we are seen, we should be pleasing to men, acceptable to society. And most women know this, that we are supposed to disappear, but it’s something that needs to be said, loudly, over and over again, so that we can resist surrendering to what is expected of us.” What might happen if women and all marginalized people claimed their hunger, not just for food, but for pleasure, joy, fulfillment, time, attention, money, power?
Owning, shamelessly living in, and speaking from our bodies, exactly as they are right now, is power. It's how we create the world of our dreams.
My relationship with my body may never be perfect. Of course I still have "bad body days," I still get tempted to implement a plan to shrink myself. That's sad, but it's ok. Diet culture is the water we swim in. This work is trying to re-wire a lifetime's worth of neural pathways. For now, I'm able to neutrally observe my thoughts, recognize them for what they are, and let them float out like they floated in.
If you're interested in taking the next step towards body/food liberation and taking back your power, check out this 6-week guided experience:
*Thanks to Be Nourished for the quote "Every ounce of you is sacred."
**Women especially, but all of us to be sure. When I use the word women, I refer to everyone who identifies as a woman.