You Want Me to Be Body Positive?!? Try Living in My Body for a Week
Updated: Mar 11
Meredith Cariski Writes
I don’t care for following empowered curvy Instagramers, plus-sized fashion or body confident blogs because no matter how many people I see that are supposed to be inspiring - plus-sized women in bikinis or plus sized men who became Target models - they just don’t do it for me. No matter how many positive affirmations I read, or the advice I get to surround myself with positivity, or to “think healthier, not skinnier,” the message falls flat! These concepts do not shift my focus on a moment-to-moment basis. Their goal is to make me more body positive, but what they don’t tell me is how to find love for my body. I don’t want to just think positively, I want to fall in love with my body instead of the constant hate I consume along with that cookie dough I mindlessly shoved in my mouth that we are so not talking about right now. You know what, I don’t care, let’s talk about it. It is a perfect example.
I ate this cookie dough and I am so angry with myself, I could punch a wall, because I just ruined a day where I finally decided to stick to my new lifestyle of eating healthier. This little piece of cookie dough, this sugar filled ball of joy that not only triggers my addiction to the sweet stuff, but also triggers emotions of guilt, shame, regret, anger and disappointment has just turned my life into a living dessert-filled hell. You think being stranded in a desert with no food and water is awful? Try being stranded in a world of fattening food and you can’t control yourself enough to say “no.” Oh wait, this is my world and that’s how I feel. That was the reaction to only one decision and it becomes the worst thing to ever happen in my life up to this point. This is not an exaggeration; I wish it was. You would understand, if you were in my body.
My body and mind make what seems to be millions of decisions and judgments throughout my day. I wake up and the first thing that I look at is my stomach as I run to the scale. Did the m&m's I snuck in the middle of the night ruin my diet for the day? It did. I gained a pound. And because of my all or nothing thinking I’ll tell myself I will never eat dessert again, like that is going to happen realistically or if that would even help me! Oh, but you know what won’t help me at this moment: reminding myself that I’m beautiful. I don’t feel beautiful and I don’t want to say it in the mirror. I look in the mirror and all I see is rolls. Yum...I want a cinnamon roll. Relatable?
I look in the mirror as I’m trying to decide what to wear. I already feel like a balloon and I am disgraced by the scale so I, in a panic, make the decision that will interpret how people will judge me today. Regardless of who I am around, no matter how body positive they may or may not be, I have in my mind that if I do not find the perfect outfit, they will discover the roll at the bottom of my stomach that dismisses the hope of wearing high waist jeans, which I thought were meant for me, but really do not make me look like even the smiling plus-sized model in the picture.
I haven’t even decided what lunch to bring to work yet and of course I was too lazy to go to the store the night before so the smoothie I wanted to make is out of the question, even though that was my plan at 5pm when I said I would go to the store. I have nothing! I might even have food I can bring, but because it was not in my strict plan, nothing actually registers except frustration. I know that buying something on the outside will provide with a plethora of hardcore decisions that I need to make so I don’t stop at the convenient Tim Hortons where I should order an egg wrap or something, but who does that? Does anybody actually eat those? I once saw a review that said they tasted like a wet dish rag.
My body loves to sabotage my goals and my dreams of having the body that I unrealistically desire anyway. I think it knows my weakness of delusion and uses it against me. My mind usually knows what’s best, but there is a busy signal, a glitch in the GPS, that drives my car right to the donut shop. How did I even get here? Why is there glaze all over my pants? Now everyone at work is going to know that I ate a donut for breakfast and just yesterday I was telling them about how well I was doing as I was downing celery and hummus right in front of them. No crackers, no thank you! I project and read people’s minds. It is just exhausting.
I haven’t even gotten to work yet and I feel like a fat animal that has been run over by a truck. Instead of “aw” that poor animal I think people would say “wow, that animal was fat and probably would have died of diabetes anyway.”
To weigh in with a final piece of sweet insight: I don’t want to hear that I should be “body positive.” It means nothing to me. I can’t shut down the negative voices in my head. They are a part of me for now and that is okay. The goal is to create a relationship, a loving relationship with my body, no matter where I am at in my journey. In a relationship, feelings are communicated and understood. Instead of being mindless about it and just letting these ideas flow there is comprehension and analysis that my body deserves. My body is a separate entity the way I look at it. This process is NOT done through body positive posts or blogs that exist right now. They are not therapeutic enough. Whenever I have had a serious issue I seek therapy and it has always been a transforming experience. I need an educated opinion who IS biased. I want them biased because I want someone who has been through it. I don’t want someone who is skinny with high heels and make up telling me that I am beautiful and just need a little work. I want to get down (in weight) and dirty because that is how you fall in love and I want to fall in love with my body.
Brian Baumal Responds
What may please Meredith to know is that in therapy there is no prescription, or magic trick that will get her to love her body. I say that because she’ll probably be relieved to know that there is one place in the world that is not trying to shove something down her throat – metaphorically and literally. Rather, in therapy we simply explore the thoughts and feelings one has towards themselves and their body. Change occurs if the client is able to reframe or reconstitute the relationship they have with their body by this exploration.
The benefit of the therapeutic approach is simply this – there are no ideal body messages from a therapist. A therapist does not tell someone to post instagram pictures in the hopes that will get them to love their body. If a therapist did this, they would be just as ineffective and maddening as every other message out there. To put it in terms that everyone can understand, my clients have had enough of ingesting those messages, and they often come to therapy just to have a place to spit them out.
However, a good therapist will examine what’s been spit out and why (a good office cleaner helps in this case too). A good therapist gets curious about what it’s like to live in a body that an individual hates, that others may hate, and of course that instagram encourages them to love. Heck, I may even ask a client to take all the raw emotion stored in their body and shout it at anyone who makes a comment about it.
So Meredith, eat away, hate away, binge away, scream away and look away I don’t want you to change your body, I want to get to know it, and I want to get to know you.