Confronting Conformity & Body Dysmorphia

I woke up this morning remembering the dangers of conformity and how insidious it is in our current cultural landscape.


Trying to conform in any way diminishes our light--or, rather, when we conform in any way, we diminish our light by trying to make it something it's not--by trying to make ourselves people we are not.


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I take a moment to reflect on the intense bloom of body insecurity I've been feeling today. Sigh. Today I told GieGie I felt like a hideous gigantor, and now I smile at the thought. At the thought that I felt so guilty about gaining weight I spent several precious hours of my day punishing myself for it in the very same way I felt the adults punished me for it as a child.


We learn so much about our world as children, and as a child I learned it was wrong to be overweight, even dangerous. My weight was a target on my back and many adults around me would aim and fire when I expected it least.


I think of the massive photograph of my grandmother that hangs down the hallway from my room. My grandmother who, overweight herself, would sneer and call me fat and lazy.


And in writing that, I see the violence of her words, and I feel the weight of her message--weight that hasn't gone away, no matter how much weight I lose or gain.


We pick up so much as children. And now I think the responsibility of us being adults is to help our inner children put these things down.


But how??


I've struggled with my self image for many years now. Believe it or not, losing weight actually triggered this battle. It was like after years of fighting off the voices telling me I was less-than for being fat, the day I started my first diet, I finally acquiesced.


Wow.


That's huge.


I need to sit with that.


The day I started my first diet, I finally acquiesced

I bowed down to the bullies around me and I did everything I could to make sure they stayed off my back. I stopped eating "junk" in public so people would think I was a healthy fat girl. I woke up at 5:00 every morning to run on the treadmill my junior year of high school. I started touching my waist every morning to gauge if my fat felt more prominent or less. On less prominent days I could breathe a sigh of relief--I hadn't gained weight; I was safe.


On more prominent days I would be anxious and afraid that I'd gained all the weight I'd lost back and family members would tell me "you got fat" the next time they saw me.


We pick up so much as children.


And today, I'm ready to put this weight down for good.


I am healthy. The weight I carry is natural to my body and, honestly, it seems to like being here. And I like it too--when I allow myself to. When I sit up straight and stop bowing down to the forces outside of myself telling me that fat is wrong, ugly, lazy, unhealthy, and the scum of the earth. When I embrace myself with the same unconditional love I had as a child. When I take the target off my own back and give myself a hug. When I come back home in my body. When I vow to never go on another diet and restrict my eating ever again. When I take myself out of the game. When I honor my word over others'. When I honor myself. When I look at those bullies in my memory and I don't back down.


Dear body: I promise I won't back down. I promise to back off of you and get into you. To let you be as you are, because you are exactly as you want to be.


Happily, I affirm:


I am free to be all I AM.

I am here to be all I AM.

I am here to be ME, as I AM, not as society deems I should be.


I didn't come here to conform; I came here to create. To create a new world order where individuality is the norm and conformity isn't a question--a world where we each value ourselves too much to wish, even for a second, we were like anyone else.


And I create this world within.


I honor myself within, and honor others as well. I put down judgement and pick up the acceptance and love I came here with.


We pick up so much as children, not realizing the worth we already hold.


*

So this post took an unexpected turn. Unexpectedly, I am answering my inner child's call to love myself as I am finally. To love myself regardless of how much fat I have on my body. To see myself as worthy because I am a beautiful, worthy spirit. To see unworthiness as a trap I've been ensnared in for far too long. To free myself, little by little, from the box I've built around my body. To stop thinking I can always be smaller. To embrace my bigness and my smallness and to see clearly my me-ness. To eradicate meanness from my thoughtspace. To be free.


*


I look around my room as Corinne Bailey Rae blasts from my CD player and copies of Sacred Love, my first lyrical coloring book, print from the printer that sits atop it. I see the words--my words--"We are Sacred" on top of the printed pages.


Happily, I pick up these words.

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