NOTE: This post was originally published on my previous blog, Body Image Rehab.
I recently found a journal entry I made following an interesting shopping experience I had back in 2004. I titled my journal entry “Perspective.” I am sharing what I wrote six years ago because I feel it is timeless and highly relevant to the “body image rehab” process.
Shopping and Perspective
I was in a department store buying clothes the other day. While waiting in line to pay, I overheard a conversation between the customer in front of me and the saleswoman behind the counter. The customer was buying a lot of new clothes and told the saleswoman it was because she had recently lost quite a bit of weight. I noticed that the clothes she was buying were all several sizes larger than my current size, a size that I feel is unacceptable. I also noted that this woman was approximately six inches shorter than me. While I would have been horrified to be purchasing those larger sizes at my height, this woman was absolutely thrilled to be wearing that same size.
It struck me at that moment that it is all about perspective. I hate wearing my current size now because I used to wear two sizes smaller (or even four or five sizes smaller during my anorexic years). In contrast, the woman in front of me loved the fact that she was buying her current size because she used to wear a much larger size. What disgusts me thrills her. Interesting how perspective affects how we feel about our size – and ourselves.
Some powerful questions came into my mind following the above experience:
- What would be possible for me, or any of us, if we were to change our perspective?
- What if I could be grateful for wearing my current size, as well as grateful for the fact that I am basically healthy and have many advantages in life?
- What if I could focus on what’s right instead of what’s wrong in my life?
There is much that is right about my life. Despite my continuing struggle with my weight and body image, there are a number of things that are right in those areas of my life, too. Here are a few things that are right for me at this point in time:
- I no longer have lists of good and bad foods.
- I no longer suffer from the utter tyranny of diets!!!
- I now have a life beyond worrying about my weight and what I eat.
- I am no longer a captive to the scale. (In fact, I no longer weigh myself at all and find it so liberating!)
- I am gradually learning to define myself in ways outside of what I look like and to love myself for who I am instead of what size I wear.
Six Years Later…
Looking back on my words above from six years ago, I am reminded of the importance of perspective to the recovery process. There will always be things we don’t like about our bodies or our lives. If we choose to focus on those things, we will be miserable and dissatisfied. If we instead choose to focus on the areas of our lives – or our bodies – which we do like, we will experience a much greater degree of happiness and peace.
The things that I wrote were right in 2004 are still right for me! In addition, I can add some more items to my “right list”:
- I am now in touch with my body and have learned to eat only when I’m hungry and stop when I’ve had enough.
- My weight has leveled off at a point that is healthy and attractive, and I am able to maintain my weight fairly easily through eating nutritious foods and moderate exercise.
- I have learned how to dress to maximize my unique figure, highlight my greatest assets, and downplay the areas that are not my best points.
- I am able to look in the mirror and more readily see the good instead of only criticizing the “negatives.”
- I have fully committed to recovering from my negative body image, however long it takes.
- So what’s right for you in terms of food, weight, and body image?
- What do you have to be grateful for in these areas?
- How can you shift your perspective in a positive direction to help with your body image rehab?
We are all a “work in progress” and each day presents new opportunities for growth and change. We all deserve to love ourselves and our bodies, and shifting our perspective toward gratitude and appreciation can help us to reach those goals.
“Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. It means that you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.” – Unknown
2 thoughts on “Shopping and Body Perspective”
I notice in the anecdote about the woman buying clothes that you seem to be presupposing that thinner is always better; the way the story is told seems to imply that one of the only reasons to be happy about a large size is if you used to be even larger so it seems “better” by comparison. I think that that seems like a kind of limiting mindset. It’s definitely possible to be satisfied with your body when it’s two sizes larger than it ever was before (I am!).
I realize this is an old article so I’m not sure if this is still relevant to you, but I wanted to say something in case it was. I hope you’re feeling better than before 🙂
(I’m working my way through the archives right now!)
Thanks for sharing your insights, Maureen. I appreciate your perspective and I agree with you. I did – and do – have a limited mindset about sizes, at least for myself. I think that many women believe that thinner is better, but intellectually I realize that isn’t always the case and there are many variables involved. I struggled with anorexia in my younger years and thinner definitely wasn’t better for my health (both physical and emotional) back then. I applaud anyone who is satisfied with their body regardless of what size they are. I know women who have decided to no longer punish themselves with extreme diets and instead accept that they will be a little heavier. There is freedom and power in that for sure. I’m not there yet and still struggle a lot with my body image. I no longer do harsh diets, but I also find it difficult to accept the extra 15 or so pounds I’ve gained in menopause. I do not judge other women in nearly the same way that I judge myself. Body acceptance really has little (or nothing) to do with size, as I have had body image issues at many sizes. I hope that I will be able to find the same type of body satisfaction that you have found.
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