What Does a Photo Say To You?
Photos, we treasure them.
Whether in albums, frames or on phones they are the visual journal of our lives. Photos prompt our memories to recall those feelings and nuances that often fade from recollection.
‘A picture speaks a thousand words’, but some of those words are the ones I don’t want to hear!
I can’t remember the last time I looked at a photo of myself without checking out if it made me look fat. Only very recently did it occur to me how many of life’s precious moments have been tarnished with the voice that whispers inside my head:
‘Look how fat your belly is, you look disgusting’.
Pictures that captured a moment of laughter with my kids would be pushed aside because they spoke to me of belly rolls, bulges and bingo-wings!
Never Slim Enough
So it will come as no surprise that I have been on a perpetual diet for as long as I can remember.
As a child I remember wanting to have a figure like my Sindy doll (a UK version of Barbie) but I became ‘plump’ as a pre-teen and overheard plenty of comments like ‘how much are you feeding her?’
In my teens I discovered the relationship between food and exercise and exploited it, training daily and thinning down. But I was never as ‘slim’ as my friend, or as attractive as her mate.
When I was in my early twenties I reached a body weight where everyone said how well I looked, and praise about my appearance flowed in.
I loved that feeling, but I still didn’t love myself. I didn’t feel as slim as the competition.
Insecurity and self-doubt dogged my perception of body image and I dieted, often unsuccessfully.
Eating For Two
And then I became pregnant. The only time in my life where I could love my body regardless of its shape because it carried something precious inside.
And every body else loved my body shape, because a pregnant belly is big and beautiful.
Nine months of bliss.
But all good things must come to an end, and as a first time Mum, I resorted to survival eating! This means consuming whatever you can, whenever you can, with little or no thought to the consequences!
By the time survival mode had eased up, I was pregnant with baby number two and eating for 2!
International No Diet Day
So where am I now? Why the reflection on body image today?
Because tomorrow is International No Diet Day, and it gave me pause for thought.
In 21 Lessons I Don’t Want My Children to Learn From Me! I wrote that I eat when I’m happy, sad, stressed or bored saying:
Don’t fill your stomach when you could fill your brain or heart instead!
Good advice but how do I apply it?
I question that gnawing empty feeling in my stomach, asking is that really a message to eat? Could it be a feeling of discontent? Wanting something but more but not knowing what? Could it be a feeling of emptiness in my heart?
When I was grieving for my Dad, that gnawing empty feeling made me want to eat, continually.
But it was an unfillable space.
When I recognised that food couldn’t comfort me, I felt lost. Food had been my friend, comforter and confidante for years. It had abandoned me.
When Food Fails You
When the moment arrived that I realised that food is neither my friend or my enemy, it was a wake-up call.
Food has been the object of my emotions, but I can re-direct those emotions elsewhere:
- Into writing.
- Into fitness.
- Into my children.
- Into my marriage.
- Into travel.
- Into adventure.
- Into passion.
I re-directed my focus.
I choose to talk about myself with respect and care, I choose to eat for health and vitality, I choose to challenge myself, I choose to value myself based on my goals, talents, accomplishments and character.
Take the Pledge:
So join me tomorrow, on May 6, International No Diet Day, and take this pledge;
I will accept myself just as I am
I will feed myself if hungry
I will feel no shame or guilt about my size or eating
…and I will LOVE MYSELF for who I am, not who I feel pressure to be!
Check out the No Diet Day Facebook Page and don’t diet for 1 day!
Decide to avoid judging others and yourself on the basis of body weight or shape. Turn off the voices in your head that tell you that a person’s body weight or muscularity says anything about their character, personality, or value as a person.
The Health At Every Size Blog promotes size acceptance and has a huge range of posts supporting acceptance of a range of body shapes and sizes.
National Eating Disorders Association NEDA (Australia) provides a comprehensive Parent Toolkit as a downloadable PDF or e-document.
Psychology Today runs through a history of how No Diet Day originated in 1991 with Mary Evans Young.