It was a couple of years ago that I first wrote on the subject of body image, and it’s time for another go-round. It’s been on my mind a lot lately. Since that time, my weight has fluctuated with the different migraine meds I’ve tried. I monitored it weekly or so by dragging my scales out of their not-so-hidden hiding place in the garage, almost guiltily jumping on the scale in a furtive fashion, and dealing with the emotional aftermath of my new number. Until, finally, a couple of months ago I decided I was over it. The scales had a hold of me that I was just done with. So, I bit the bullet and frog-marched them out the wheely bin. Good riddance. Or so I thought…you see, because I know where my parents’-in-law keep their scales…and one of my good friends also has a scale in her bathroom…and there’s one at my local pharmacy… so…
It is for this very reason that I realised I needed to make a more full-scale assault on this sense of needing to fit into society’s ideal of fit, healthy, beautiful, acceptable, or whatever you want to call it. It’s super sneaky. It’s ALWAYS in our faces. Always. So, forgive me if you feel like my words are a wee bit strong here today, I intend NO offense, but I need them to be strong to stave off the onslaught of shame that keeps trying to infiltrate into my world.
You see, once I got rid of my scales, there was a period of time when I was in the middle of transitioning migraine preventatives, and I could tell my body was changing, but because of lack of said scales, I couldn’t actually tell if it was getting bigger or smaller. But my health was much improved and I felt, surely, my body was beginning to reflect this. Until I ferreted out a secret-squirrel scale at someone’s house, and to my horror, I had packed on several kilos in a matter of a couple of weeks. What I experienced at this time was nothing more than a whirlwind of shame and despair. I expected to gain weight during pregnancy, then while breastfeeding, then on different migraine preventatives, but now, while eating gluten and sugar free whole foods, exercising six days a week, and generally in much better health? Nope. But it turns out that my new med, which is doing wonders for my head, is a weight-gain drug for me. Hooray.
I was chatting with one of my friends at this time, and said something to her that unwittingly set me on the warpath against the shame; “The problem is not that I’ve put on a few pounds – the problem is that I live in a society that says that that’s not okay.” Bingo. So I started to find some resources that would give me ammo for the battle. Firstly, I watched Taryn Brumfitt’s excellent doco ‘Embrace’ (on Netflix here in the US, but I don’t think in NZ as of yet…but you should find it somehow!! It’s SO GOOD), and listened to a body positivity podcast featuring Jes Baker, who is an advocate for body liberation, and a super onto-it chick.
What I have learned over this time, is that to simply start to love my body is great, but in essence, it’s simply trying to stretch the rules of acceptability in order to make myself fit. It’s changing the rules of the game so that I still feel okay playing it. It’s a wider (literally 😉) margin for the same old tactic of seeking belonging, approval and validity by external measures. Instead, I’m taking myself out of the race. Those rules can’t apply if you’re not in the game. My body is so useful in getting me around in this life, and for this, I am so grateful. But, it does not represent my value as a person. Not one little bit. So, whether it’s toned and slim and sleek, or a wee bit wobbly around the edges (or a lot wobbly), it makes NO difference to the way God has called me to live.
(As a slight aside here, I know that the old ‘but you’ve got to be healthy’ thing comes into play for a lot of people here. And I agree that health is essential. But I also agree, that it’s none of your business. My health is between me, my doctor and my conscience – which, btw, is totally clear.)
We’ve all heard the completely hideous phrase, “She’s really let herself go!” Well, it’s time to redeem it. I really am learning to let myself go – away from unkind, ungodly, media-perpetuated rules that tell me that how I look is the measure of my worth. I’m letting myself off the hook to spend my limited time, energy and money on things that bring life, love, wholeness and the Kingdom of God into this world.
Will you join me in letting in yourself go?
Love you friends,
10 thoughts on “She’s Really Let Herself Go…”
I love the idea of reclaiming the idea of letting oneself go as freedom, rather than oppression. I’m proud of you for going on the warpath because your body is beautiful however you’re living in it! (Also, keeping scales out of my life has been really helpful for me. I’m down to weighing myself about once a year.)
Thanks love. How good does it feel to let those scales go!? Well done xx
Hi Deb, you go girl!! Yes we can get Embrace on Netflix in NZ and it has been so freeing watching that! I’ve been struggling with weight fluctuations for years, but recently decided NO MORE! It’s more important to have a healthy body and mind, fully functioning in this world. How good it must be for you, to no longer having those crippling migraines….who cares if you gain a few extra pounds??!!!!
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So agree… Being functional is SO much more important!! And present!!
Love what you wrote Deb.It is so hard to face the changes in our bodies as we age and not see the person in the mirror that we feel inside! Medication sadly can have the effect on weight gain and it’s a matter of doing what’s best for your health. For me I need the medications to function. I threw out my scales at 24 after being anorexic for 8 years, then having a real surprise baby. After giving birth I just couldn’t cope with the body I had , yet knew the scales had to go. If I became fixated on them again I new I would be starring down the barrel of trouble. To this day I never have scales and raised my sons without any in the home. Love this attitude and will definitely look for this Netflix doco.
Good on you Kathryn, it’s not easy!! And someone told me that the doco is on Netflix in NZ now!
Go Girl – our bodies are phenomenal. They house and grow life, they nurture that life in it’s earliest season, they bake cakes, they laugh, they heal when they get cut, they move in all sorts of directions. I often stop and marvel at how completely miraculous bodies are. 🙂 I also thinking loving this body is a part of expressing worship to the God that made them and declared them good.
That is such a good point Miriam!!
Hey you for 1 I really miss you and need to visit
Two … since having my new baby boy I’ve been feeling huge … I’ve never owned a scale however I gained a little over 50 pounds when I was pregnant and after being pregnant I was completely exhausted with postpartum depression and gained may be a little more than I should have because everyone has a comment about my weight lately my mom my man my kids nothing fits and I’m over it not sure what to do to lose the weight I’ve tried cutting out lunch I’ve tried eating only salads and everyone says oh go for a walk go for a jog go to the gym I’m busy keeping my household together today.. how do I have time for that? So I give up I’m letting it go
Oh hi love! I’m so sorry you had such a rough go this time around. Having a baby and looking after little kiddos is no joke!! Take care of yourself xx