One of the comments I hear frequently in my work is some version of:
“I really want to embrace the Health at Every Size™ point of view. In fact I do embrace it. I live it, I breathe it, and I believe in it. But I’m still attached to wanting to be thin. I feel guilty about that. Do you still like me? Can I still be a part of your club? Am I ok???”
The answer is, “Yes, you are human.”
I know it’s hard to believe that there is a point of view where you can define your own standard of ‘perfection’; a point of view that is NOT based on comparisons or where someone else capitalizes on your feeling that you are not ENOUGH.
And your skepticism makes sense because there is a paucity of places in our lives where we are allowed to just “be enough.” Even in places we assume would be guilt-free safe havens, turn out to be hot beds of comparisons, insecurity and feeling guilty about not “doing it” right.
Take yoga for example. I used to take yoga. I lived on an ashram and everything. It was the most competitive environment I had ever been in! My poses weren’t “posy” enough, my gauzy drawstring pants weren’t gauzy enough and my mat was a towel. We were supposed to be going inward as we went downward dog; but a quick glance sideways inevitably revealed that everyone was looking at each other to see if they were stretching as far as the person next to them. I don’t want to digress and have people think I don’t love yoga. I do. (And there are fabulous exceptions thanks to yoga teachers out there like Anna Guest-Jelley, Curvy YogaTM. But for me, when yoga turned into X-TREME ASS-ANAS with the heat cranked up to 90 degrees and the sun salutation was done in fast forward…well let’s just say I didn’t want to be Jane Fucking Fondananda and feel the Bikram Burn*(see disclaimer). It got in my way of reaping the benefits from the practice.
So enough with the guilt already!
- An inclusive movement means just that, INCLUSIVE! A size acceptance movement means just that, ALL sizes accepted.
- A self acceptance movement means that our goal is to accept ourselves and each other at every size, at any size.
- This does not mean you have to stay fat.
- This does not mean you have to love every minute of being fat.
- This does not mean you have to stay thin.
- This does not mean that you don’t have personal preferences.
- This does not mean that you don’t wish you could fit into your pre-menopausal weight gain clothing because you don’t have enough money to buy new clothes because you have to pay for your expenses to go to a conference and sell your book so you will have money to buy new clothes…(oooh, see how I made that all about me??)
- It especially does NOT mean that you should be bullied or ostrasized for being whatever size you are.
Seriously, how much happier would we be if we just lost The Guilt? We weren’t born with The Guilt. We can survive without The Guilt. It is not a primal instinct. It doesn’t feed us, clothe us, keep us safe, and it certainly does not make us happy.
Guilt is NOT the same as remorse. Someone who is able to feel badly about hurting another living being or committing some other egregious act against society is showing that they have a conscious. They can tell right from wrong and hopefully learn from the experience and change. Remorse and empathy can be liberating. Guilt? Guilt just festers…It’s like a black mold that begets more black mold and more until you are completely filled with guilt and feel like a failure.
Who needs that?
So, I’m embarking on a lifestyle change today. Some people are gluten free, I am going to be guilt free. I am not going to feel guilty about feeling what I feel. Except perhaps feeling guilty…still working on that paradox.
I am going to give up the self-destructive habit of constant comparison with others. I am going to accept that doing this may be difficult, and that’s o.k.
I invite you to join me. And if you choose not to, please don’t feel guilty. I still love you.
* Disclaimer: I don’t judge anyone that enjoys the Bikram Method. It’s just NOT for me.
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