The Body Image Talk … TIME FOR A CHANGE

It’s time for a change when it comes to the way we (as humans, as adolescents, as adults, as kids, as Americans, as students, as celebrities, as writers, as men, as women, as blacks, as whites, as hispanics, as teachers, as parents, as doctors, as social media users…) CHANGE the way we talk about body image.

I’m so tired of reading about bashing skinny people.  I’m tired of seeing posts that call perfectly healthy women fat.  I’m tired of seeing models that emphasize that men need abs and women need an ass or an hour glass figure.  Everywhere you look you get a slightly altered message about what’s good, what’s hot, what’s healthy– but here’s the reality: each of these seemingly different messages are really all the same.  Underneath each message is the portrayal of “what you have can always be better.”  AND THAT JUST ISN’T RIGHT.  tumblr_mltz1oST6U1rbf2mto1_500 images

I’m not saying I’m an expert, but I have been in eating disorder treatment in the past year, so I can say that I have both felt in myself and witnessed in others the distortion the media and society has been playing on our perceptions of body image.

First myth I want to exploit: I don’t care who you are- man, woman, teen, senior citizen, poor, middle class, educated– you most likely have experienced some sort of body image dissatisfaction at some point in your life (the myth being that only teenage girls experience body image problems).  If you haven’t THAT’S AWESOME and keep doing what you’re doing.  If you have, it doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong… it’s simply a common product of our society to feel this way.

SO HOW DO WE CHANGE THIS???images

I mean I’m just one person and I know I’m far from holding all the power, but I know that change starts with individuals.  Here are some of my thoughts of things that YOU (whoever you may be, happy or unhappy with your body.. doesn’t matter!) can do:

1) Remember that what we see on the covers of magazines is usually exaggerated and/or touched up.

  • Think about all those tabloids you see about Jennifer Aniston being pregnant??? How many times have those headlines been accurate… (here’s a hint: Jennifer Aniston doesn’t have any children).
  • The same goes for images…. not only are stories often fake or exaggerated, but so are pictures.  Photographs are touched up with a computer to make models look ‘glamorous’ or ‘fit.’  Those pretty people on the magazines are still pretty in real life, but in a more realistic way.  The magazine companies make them look unattainably beautiful or athletic or skinny or tan.  It isn’t real life.  And why try to be something that isn’t real?

2) Don’t put so much emphasis on the number.

  • Now I know this is easier said than done cause with my OCD and history of anorexia, I personally struggle with this. But in the big picture, at your funeral, are your friends and family going to be talking about how skinny you were and what number the scale said when you stepped on it, or are they going to be recounting times you made them laugh or smile or were there for them?

3) SKINNY doesn’t equate beauty.  Nor does “the perfect butt”.  Or the “athletic body.”  Or an hourglass figure.  Or well defined muscles.  

  • This is something that takes time to accept and embrace for certain people such as myself, but I’m learning how true it is.  Corny maybe, but beauty really is someone who’s confident and healthy.  
  • And what does confident and healthy look like??? Different on different people.  Some people are naturally thin while others are naturally curvy.  But genuine confidence usually looks the same– a smile, but also honesty about your inner and outer struggles.  Self-appreciation without narcissism.  Being comfortable in your own body and not negatively judging other’s for who they are.  Taking compliments and handing them out when appropriate.  Confident doesn’t mean you have to have your life together… it just means that you’re not afraid to admit when you are afraid or lost. And that you love yourself for who you are physically and mentally.beluga whale!

4) Negativity is contagious.  But so is positivity and being realistic.

  • I once thought that being positive meant smiling and saying you’re okay despite the pain.  I now know that that isn’t the case.  Being positive is admitting when you need help and feeling hopeful about receiving that help.
  • Let’s stop talking about “that fat girl” or “that scrawny boy” or “that anorexic looking woman.”  Instead, remember that everyone’s built differently.  Now if you’re concerned someone you care about has a problem, then that’s different.  You wouldn’t refer to them like that; instead you’d reach out to them.  Otherwise, let’s not talk about our bodies so much.  Like yes, we all HAVE them, but most of the time not much needs to be said about the subject.

5) Let’s talk about something else: the beauty of personalities or the beauty of nature or the beauty of artwork…. etc.

  • The list goes on.  So many things and people are beautiful.  Let’s talk about his beautiful personality or her beautiful painting or the beautiful sunshine.

6) Last challenge: five people

  • I challenge you to walk away from this and tomorrow tell five people they’re beautiful (don’t mention specific body parts… just say “you are beautiful”)
  • 5 people: 1- yourself.  2- a family member.  3- a close friend.  4- a not as close friend.  5- a random person/people… via post-it note.  Stick a note on a public bathroom mirror saying “you’re beautiful” and walk away. Who knows– you’ll most likely touch more than 5 people right there.

I KNOW THIS WAS SAPPY BUT I THINK IT’S SO SO IMPORTANT.  START THE CONVERSATION; SPREAD THE LOVE… BEGINNING WITH NOT JUST THOSE AROUND YOU, BUT ALSO, YOURSELF. Next time you hear some people gossiping about someone’s size in a negative way, stop them.  Say something.  It doesn’t have to be a giant speech… just a few words: “Hey, that’s not cool,” or simply changing the subject if you are a part of the conversation.  Or bringing up good qualities about that person.  There are countless ways to combat this.confidence-beautiful-size-weight-large

As for social media, be careful what you post.  Remember that tweeting something like, “Ugh I’m fat,” won’t help you change the way you feel about yourself.  In addition, it may end up harming someone else reading it.  They may be larger than you and begin to compare themselves… Not to mention, posts like that put an unnatural emphasis on the body and gives certain bodies a very negative connotation that they aren’t deserving of.

ANYWAYS SORRY THIS POST JUST KEEPS GETTING LONGER AND LONGER BUT BE BODY POSITIVE and if you or someone you know is struggling with food, exercise, or body image, learn more and/or seek help at http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/

We’re all beautiful here.

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One Day At A Time

So, I, like many people, struggle with the concept of taking things one day at a time.  One day… at a time?  What does this even mean!? And why is it relevant to my life?  Or anyone’s for that matter?  Why take one day at a time when you can pull out your calendar and plot down things to do for the next seven days!? TEN!? FIFTEEN DAYS!? HELL, WHY NOT PLAN OUT THE REST OF THE SUMMER?????????

I mean, certain things do need to be planned out in advance.  But the answer to that last question: because TOO much planning stops being fun.  Too much planning begins to take you away from the present moment.

About a year or so ago, I would plan EVERYTHING.  And when I say everything, I literally mean everything.  I would open up my planner and write down what I was eating for each meal, when I was exercising and how much, when I was supposed to “relax” and “have fun” and a giant list of unattainable, crazy, totally-not-necessary, goals for me to try and achieve before a certain date.  This was planning to the point of obsessive– I was no longer just using my planner for homework and the occasional social function… I was using my planner to plot out every moment of my life so that I could “maximize usage of my time.”  Well friends, I wish I could say I did use my time well… but I’d be lying if I said that.  I really ended up using 18/24 hours of the day obsessing over things both large and small, important and unimportant.  When I was with friends I wasn’t in the present moment… Instead I was mechanically going through the motions while my mind zipped 100 miles an hour, obsessions and racing thoughts and compulsions taking over my existence, as well as a looming internal calendar with a ticking clock to match.  My mind wasn’t on that one day; it was focusing on that day, the days before, and the years to come.  It was hyper-focusing to the point of pain.

What I just described was my life when I craved perfection, when I lived in an eating disordered mind, when my OCD and anxiety had the best of me, and when my moods oscillated like crazy.

Today I’m trying to take one day at a time, planning some things a week or so out, but only the big things– projects, classes, events, and appointments.  Everything else is falling into place.  I exercise when I have the time and want to; I eat without planning the specifics of it; I relax when I’m able to and without forcing it; I’m social when I run into friends or make plans the day before.  I no longer live in the “taking six months at a time” world but rather the one that focuses mostly on “one day at a time.”

If you’re anything like me, even if just in the slightest, I dare you to try something new today.  I dare you to (without blowing off important and necessary tasks… cause let’s be real, we all have things we have to do) eat something really different or spontaneously call up a friend you haven’t seen in a while.  Or maybe go explore a new place.  Create something.  Do something off the schedule.

Happy Monday Y’all!!

Dupont Circle in May

I’m officially in D.C. for the rest of May and most of June!!  I started my first day on my own with what I like to call a “photography adventure.”  It’s nothing too fancy– I just walked around with my camera in hand, enjoying the sunshine that hung above my head.  I decided to wander around the Dupont Circle stop and I’m hoping that I’ll be able to find time to do this with a few different parts of D.C.  Exploring time!

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Blue Sky
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Unintended embassy viewing
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Apple tart deliciousness
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Saying hi to my pigeon friend

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DSCN2100My final thoughts on Dupont Circle from today: colorful & interesting buildings, embassies galore, and as I continually am surprised by in D.C.– a decent amount of green space!  I love how this city manages to balance its urban feel with the presence of nature.  This is one of the many things I love about Washington, D.C.

College Student “Epiphany”

Okay so this isn’t an actual epiphany.  It’s actually something quite obvious.  

The past few days I’ve been taking really good care of myself: sleeping about 8 hours, exercising for 20-40 minutes (but not every day), and eating a variety of food while still eating desserts.  And my mind and body have NEVER felt this great.  Especially during finals week.  So yes, this may seem like a “duh” moment, but after witnessing many of my college friends go through nights of 3 hours of sleep, 2 large meals and no snacks, and little exercise during finals, I can see the toll it takes on them mentally and physically.  They’re exhausted, stressed, and just plain cranky.

I think this is a good lesson in life but especially for college students– do your work during the day or night (don’t wait until 3 am), go for a walk or jog and get some fresh air, and try to eat breakfast.  Obviously not every day has the time to do this, but it’s certainly doable most of the time.  It’s important for anyone, and I know especially for someone like me who suffers from mental illness.  Taking care of myself but also not being hard on myself has evened out my mood swings, reduced my OCD, and kept my eating disorder at bay.

So yeah, I’m not trying to sound preachy, and many of you are probably already doing this.  But I just wanted to share what’s been helping me feel good and succeed!

As my boyfriend said (laughing at me) when I told him this, “There’s a reason doctors tell you to do these things!”