I’m pondering how my mirror image makes me feel. How much is real and how much comes from our own self-image?
Comments on Day 85 from Stéfanie and Cheryl really make think about my self-image
Stéfanie writes … I just had an ah ha moment. I never thought that some people could prefer not getting ANY kind of feedback about their weight loss. I never thought that because I am the complete opposite. I litteraly CRAVE the comments. To me, they are the best of rewards. So, thanks for making me aware and sensitive to this.
It made me realize once again that I need to shed this obsessive need for other people’s approval. Why do I crave this feedback so much? It’s not just with weightloss, it’s all over my life. My older lady friends and family say I will grow out of it as I get older. That what other people think of you gets less and less important. If it’s so, then, I’m eager to age
Cheryl writes – I think that’s sort of true for me. I’m 63, and the older I’ve gotten the less I’ve cared what strangers and acquaintances think about me. It does feel different with good friends and family, though. Maybe there’s always that need for their approval. The weight loss issue is really one of those “hot button” issues for me. My mind doesn’t grasp the positive in a compliment, it goes right to the reverse — so did I look that bad before?…
- According to Transactional Analysis we need positive strokes to help us ‘open the heart’. Stroke starvation can lead to physical, emotional and physical illness according to Claude Steiner.
And I think there is a lot of truth to that. I know myself, I grew up pretty much believing I was not good enough in any way, or if I WAS good, I ought not mention it, or make any fuss about it. This led to an emotional starvation that was partially at the root of my stuffing myself with food to soothe these needs. It’s not the only reason, for sure, but a big part. So for example, if Diane the Champion was doing another Body for Life course and I KNEW she was working hard to shed fat and build muscle and I saw her progressing, FOR SURE I would mention it. It is very hard work. And I think when I was in Weight Watchers I LOVED when my WW friends mentioned my progress too. But lately, I’ve been thinking about “Why is it ALWAYS a good thing to have lost weight?” Since my body type is not slender, and I come from endomorph stock on both sides of my family, we were taller, stockier and fatter. I don’t mean in the sit around eating all day fatter, I mean our bodies, from every photo I’ve ever seen, had more fat over the muscle than in other families. AND both sides of my family were physically hard workers. Farmers, laborers etc. This is a legitimate body to have. Just one of the rainbow of possible body types. So why am I so happy when I lose weight, or when people notice? Because for ME (and I’m talking only me here) it means I’m FINALLY one of the rest. I FINALLY fit in (chairs and emotionally).
Trouble is, that’s not who I am. It’s like dying my grey hair. I do it, but I really have greying hair. So when people compliment my hair, I also get a little cringe as I know this is my stylist they are complimenting and I feel a bit of deceit. But is it? Almost nobody my age has hair free from grey. Almost everybody in my area dyes their hair as in LA, youth is valued. It makes you listened to at work more. It’s just like when I lost all the weight and people started to respect me more. Really? My brains were non-active under fat? Really? My ideas and heart didn’t function? That was my anger about weight loss. That people only accepted the thinner package and it hurt to know that. Then I regained some, and noticed the opposite. Most didn’t say, “Wow, you’ve gained some weight!” but as they sure had mentioned it on the way down, I know they noticed on the way up. And as I said before, the more I weighed, the less I fit in.
Until now. Now some chairs are still a struggle, but *I* feel I fit in and my size isn’t as relevant. I still hope my body stabilizes at a lesser weight, because functionally, I don’t feel optimum yet. And I have flashes of familiar shame, as I told on Day 85 about my well-intentioned friend.
My friend intended to celebrate with what she thought was progress on my goal. Why wouldn’t she? Weight loss has ALWAYS been my goal, for as long as she’s known me. When I started this show and I tried to explain what I was doing, she literally could not understand any of it other than I wanted to lose weight. Then she said,”Oh you want to eat HEALTHIER”, I said, “Not really”. THAT one floored her. It makes no sense to state your goal is not to eat healthier. Well, I do, but not in the way she meant. I want to emotionally eat healthier. I do value my health, but without my emotional strength and health first, the rest is like frosting on a cardboard cake. My friend is not an emotional eater, so she cannot process my weird statements. So when she saw my photo, she said what she did to connect with me and celebrate me. My reaction is on me. Long story here, friend, Stéfanie, No? Short story. Celebrate yourself and others, and let the intention be your guide xoxoxoxoxoxox
Do you trust photos, the mirror, or your heart?
Now, Brave Companions, I am the same size in both of the photos on this blog post. The top photo in my yoga outfit was taken at home in my bathroom, and the legs are cut off since my mirror is not full length. This tends to focus on my hated trouble spot. The clothing in the dressing room photo still fits the same as when that photo was taken. Note, I’m turning at a flattering angel to snap my photo in the dressing room. Also, those slim fit slacks hold my tummy in a bit better than my comfy old yoga clothing. The dressing room photo made me feel REALLY good about myself, the yoga photo not so much.
Why? I am the same size.
- Even though we have an actual size, our brains interpret data though our own world view. So one woman’s size in a particular time in history and culture may be considered pleasing, and in another, horrific (yes, I know Suz, one of THOSE drastic vocabulary words).
- What is our social norm at my place in time? Despite mighty ongoing social media driven efforts for body acceptance, big breasted, thin and young seem to be our optimal beauty standard where I live.
- So it would seem that the flattering photo is closer to that beauty norm. But even so, I’m not any of those physical things.
- My inner view also colors my lens of acceptance. I had a GREAT day when I snapped the dressing room pic.
- The last week has been a bit tough on me. I’ve been over tired, feeling blue, and wondering if this show still serves a purpose for me or you? So many Brave Companions have left or gone silent. I’m still over 200 pounds and dealing with demons from my past. As Alen say, Progress, not perfection. But my progress this week seemed to stall and self-doubt abound
- A bright spot was the Halloween show. It was fun to work with Mark again and to have the contributions of Suz, Cheryl, Dawny and My friend Max. It was creative to edit that one all together, and I was proud of how I worked the eating topic into the theme.
- I also received a heart-felt email letter from a brave companion, who again said how much listening to all of the episodes has meant to her. This pulled my head out of my ass
- My size is the same, yet is feels different from day to day. Isn’t this why I gave up the scale?
- We all know I weigh more than 200 pounds, so why am I surprised by photos or unexpected mirror glimpses?
- I think partially that my actual size ballooned and plummeted so much and so often in the past, my internal size never stuck
- I think I still have strong ties to equating big/fat with bad/shameful. So if I feel bad for any reason, I feel fat. Period
- If I feel physically fat for any reason, water retention, tight clothing, actual weight gain, I feel bad about myself as a human being
- This is what I’m working on. I can be huge and it doesn’t make me a bad human being. I can be thin and it doesn’t make me a good human being. I can be any physical size and it doesn’t add or subtract to my heart or my character. Only my own thoughts, reactions, instincts, wisdom,and experience can guide my own self-worth, and I have a problem with this.
- Photos can be photoshopped (I’m actually quite good at that, though none of my photos in this blog are photoshopped beyond brightness adjustments). Photos vary by light, pose, angle etc. Photos capture one second through the lens of the photographer (in the case of selfies, yourself)
- Mirrors can be manipulated with light, your pose, your expectation etc. (Mirrors capture how you are looking to yourself during the moments you gaze into them. This varies by how you feel.)
- Hearts cannot tell physical size. They can be influenced by emotions and negative or positive thought.
I’ve written this list to ponder and think through all of this today. I conclude that hearts are best for judging our inner worth, photos are best for making artistic statements or capturing times of our lives, whatever our sizes, and the mirror is best for smiling in and telling ourselves, “I love you as you are.”
Laurie, I love you in your yoga pants