Monday, June 7, 2010

Honest Self-Appraisal or Self-Loathing?

I'm moved to write today in response to a blog post by one of my favorite bloggers, Karen Anderson. Like so many of us, she struggles with self-image and has been working on loving herself and her body...and then was shocked when seeing a recent photo of herself. Karen was also responding to another blogpost where a gal was reflecting back on her body and honestly appraising her physical situation, at least theoretically, without self-loathing.

You can read Karen's post here, and the other post here. Both are thought provoking and it is great to have all sorts of different perspectives. As I've often said, there is no one right answer that fits every body...

With that in mind, here are some of my thoughts from reading these provocative posts.

I agree that being honest about where you are is not the same as hating oneself, however using the word "fat" tends to come with so much emotional baggage that it can tip the scale into disgust or loathing even if it is also accurate. For that reason alone it may be appropriate to come up with new terminology without the existing connotations.

On the other hand, in our effort to reflect the "truth" or to be "honest" we can be hurtful to ourselves or to others.

If we find that we are larger than we “should” be, that we are eating more than our body needs in order to survive then it is possible that there is some reason behind eating more than you burn that is emotionally based. Once we figure that out and break those habits (physical and mindset patterns) it is much easier and natural to drop the excess weight. This doesn't mean some big traumatic event happened in your just means that we are eating for some reason other than actual physical hunger. We deserve to figure out what that is so we can move on to the healthy, energetic, slender bodies we deserve. Until we do, we are destined to ride the diet roller coaster, which is not a fun that literally can make you sick!

In the mean time we definitely deserve to look at our bodies and ourselves in a more loving way. Rather than looking at our saddlebags or acknowledging that our boobs are too big or parts of our bodies jiggle, we deserve to focus on our strengths and how well our bodies serve us.

Does that mean we might have moments when we are captured on film/tape/or in the mirror where we do not recognize our bodies? Sure...but do you recognize your voice when you hear it on the tape recorder or answering machine? Most of us do not because as our voices resonate around in our own heads we literally sound different. But people around us hear our voice and accept it as us without the criticism that we often place on it--even if our perception is "honest". The same is true for our bodies.

We may be shocked when we "objectively" see a photo of ourselves, but part of the reason we are surprised is we are used to seeing ourselves from specific angles, doing specific movements and in the mirror which reverses us. People around us see us for the animate, loving, moving, fully 3 dimensional people we are...and can accept us that way. Remember, photos are merely a snapshot of one split second. The unattractive shot of us sweating and grimacing is no more an accurate representation of what we look like and who we are than the perfectly coiffed and poised "glamour shot."


KCLAnderson (Karen) said...

Thanks for such a thoughtful response to my blogpost Laurie. For me, being able to be loving AND objective is significant and healthy. Add to that being able to be light hearted and to laugh with myself. When I saw that photo, yes there was revulsion, but it was fleeting. And that's really the key. I was able to bounce back pretty quickly into loving myself.

And I love the analogy to hearing our own voices on answering machines...that's SO true!

Laurie Tossy said...

I agree, if we can be loving while objective that is the best situation. Sometimes taking ourselves a little less seriously is what it takes...It is hard to be "light" about our bodies when we are expecting perfection!

Anonymous said...

Love when posts send ripples into the blogosphere.

Commenting as the other gal who was giving myself an honest appraisal, theoretically without self-loathing, I say Different Strokes. My post was all about how my belief in myself and my strength and my love and my accomplishments had me feeling so good that I took my eye off of the ball, which for now is diet.

Even 'fluffy' could eventally carry baggage if I let it.

And yes, the truth can sometimes hurt. It was exactly what I needed in order to snap my focus back on what I want to be doing. And what I want to be doing, along with all the things I talked about in the post, is losing weight.

Love all the different insights. Glad your way has worked so well for you in your efforts to lose weight, no matter what word you use! lol.