Each woman is grappling with her own perceptions of the obstacles that stand between her and feeling at home in her own skin. I notice that most are also concerned with how their inability to do so may be affecting those whom they love most – their mothers, their sisters, their daughters, their best friends.
While any lasting, worthwhile change usually cannot occur overnight, and may take weeks, months, or even years to fully bear fruit, there are efforts going on right now to ensure that the legacy we leave for each other and for future generations treads more kindly on our perception of our body’s unique and worthwhile beauty, just as it is.
That is not to say that we can’t all do our part to learn how to take the very best care we can of our physical body, one step at a time, and many women who come to Southlake Counseling come because they want to do just that. But this movement takes us beyond our individual efforts and into a societal shift that will make this process easier – and more fun – for all of us.
Take “Strong is the New Thin,” for instance. This is a Facebook-based movement that repositions physical health and strength as an admirable, desirable goal.
Or the emerging “real women” and “authentic women” monikers, meant to denote a woman who is beautiful in her outside-the-thin-box skin.
One of my personal favorites is “Fat Talk Free® Week,” an annual week-long event spearheaded by a partnership between the team that wrote the Reflections: Body Image Curriculum and Tri-Delta Sorority.
The event began a few years ago as a way to promote the curriculum’s scientifically-measurable ability to boost body esteem among sorority women. Now it has caught on at a national level, moving its social media and promotion headquarters to Facebook and digging in its heels to reach out to women of all ages, shapes, and sizes with a message that it is not okay to say no to your own unique beauty.
Fat Talk Free® Week is coming up again this year October 18-22, 2010, and I want to encourage all of you to be a part. You don’t need to wear anything special, buy anything special, or do anything special – other than cutting out all “fat talk” from your life for one short week, and encouraging others you care about to do the same.
Part of saying YES to life is saying NO to the things – and the words – that keep your spirit, mind, and heart feeling small, stuck, and discouraged. “Fat talk,” as I often mention privately to individuals who come to me for counseling support, is a short, straight road to low body- and self-esteem, which then leads to depression, discouragement, and repetition of the same disordered eating thoughts and behaviors we are working so hard to overcome.
So for one week, let us practice saying YES to life together by cutting out “fat talk” from our vocabularies. We can start by finding other ways to compliment our female (and male!) friends and family members. Instead of complimenting them in body-based ways, we can spend an extra moment to think of something else nice to say.
In this way, we can make a commitment to moderate the thoughts in our heads before they emerge from our tongues as words, asking ourselves, “is it kind to me? is it kind to others?” before we speak.
We can also make it a practice to journal out a few short notes at the end of each day of Fat Talk Free® Week, asking ourselves how we are feeling about our bodies and ourselves after abstaining from esteem-damaging fat talk over the past several hours. Do we feel more hopeful? More secure? More self-loving? More inclusive and accepting of others?
And if we like what a week of conversation with no references to “I really shouldn’t eat that” or “Thanks for the compliment but I think this blouse makes me look lumpy,” then we can choose to keep it going!
So as we embark upon this week-long adventure together, I would love to hear your experiences of Fat Talk Free® Week – and please feel welcome to share them day by day by posting your comments here!
Remember, saying YES to life starts by saying NO to those things that would keep us from the fullness of recovery, health, and wellness that we dream of. If we can dream it, we can do it – now all that is left is to say YES to it and begin. If you need extra support to be able to say YES out loud and “go for it” to build the healthy, wonderful life you are dreaming of, contact us at www.southlakecounseling.com today. We look forward to helping you reach for and achieve all of your recovery, health, and wellness dreams!