CS Lewis once said, “You do not have a soul. You have a body. You are a soul”.
This quote is posted on my whiteboard in my office in large, scrawling penmanship. I point to it frequently while in session with my patients. And I find myself reflecting on it more recently now that I’m doing YTT and we are talking about this stuff ALL.THE.TIME.
But this post isn’t about YTT today. It’s about something more dear to my heart.
You may or may not know, but it is National Eating Disorders Awareness week. As a therapist working at a private behavioral hospital for women and men suffering from eating disorders, I felt that I needed to bring this cause to my blog tonight. Nearly 20 million women in this country will suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their life. The statistics of men suffering from this aren’t as concrete due to the stigma of male’s seeking treatment for an incorrect assumption of a “women’s disease”. Anorexia nervosa is THE DEADLIEST mental health disorder.
As stated on the NEDA website- “The aim of NEDAwareness Week is to increase awareness and education about eating disorders and body image issues for effective recognition, early intervention and direction to care.”
I won’t make this into a blog post about eating disorders. If you’re wanting more information, you can check out the NEDA website at nationaleatingdisorders.org. This is scary stuff, people. It’s heartbreaking. And often times, these individuals don’t have access to the care they need to recover- or their insurance policy prevents them from obtaining a full course of necessary treatment. These are incredibly brilliant, sensitive and amazing individuals, who just happen to have an eating disorder- whether it’s a result of biological, genetic, psychological or sociocultural issues.
So what can we do? We, meaning, women and men who are part of this society and culture which values physical beauty and perfection. My thought on this is simple- for this week, be aware of the amount of “fat talk” you find yourself engaging in. And by fat talk, I mean any type of negative self-talk or criticism that really serves no purpose other than making you feel bad about yourself. Your mind, often times, is not your friend. It just feeds you stories and fiction.
We live in a culture where it’s normal and expected to talk about your diets, to complain about our bodies, to practice self-hatred instead of self-acceptance- and we do this often times around friends, family, and our children. This shit is contagious, my friends. It’s time to take a good hard look at the self-talk, and judgement you engage in- and start to make a shift. Eliminate “fat talk” from your vocabulary. Focus on nourishing your soul and body, not abusing it. Foster your internal self-worth. Focus on your values- what makes you YOU. What is meaningful in your life. Be an ambassador of self-acceptance. Laugh, breath and let go. Be grateful for what your body allows you to do. And know that these bodies are just temporary vessels for our souls.
Several years ago, I had the privilege of hearing Gloria Steinem speak at a conference in Philadelphia. I will never forget her closing words- “We, as women, must come to a point where we realize that our bodies are instruments, not ornaments”.
So go forth and let your body play- that’s what it’s meant to do.