Monday, June 10, 2013

Loving How Your Body Works vs. Loving the Way You Look

As you know, the internet is busting with information.  It can be used as a powerful tool, if you know what you are doing.  However, if you are looking for eating disorder recovery information, I caution you.  There are many websites out there that actually promote eating disorders as opposed to eating disorder recovery.

It’s very sad.  Sometimes, they don’t disguise their language.  Other times, these people who promote eating disorders operate under code words like “thinspiration” and “skinnydeep”.  They might assume good intentions but that doesn’t make it right.

Even on Pintrest, there are hundreds of thousands of motivational boards that encourage eating disorders.  These boards contain pictures of airbrushed models, unrealistic sculpted muscles, coveted outfits or “looks”, exercise routines, and obsessive food information -- all gathered in one place with the intention to motivate one to lose weight.

What results is not self-love.  This information causes obsessive compulsive behaviors, unnatural relationships with food, and eating disorders.

If a person is teetering on the verge of an eating disorder, the internet can be a very dangerous place.  I am not exaggerating when I say that the internet is a bombardment of unrealistic expectations.

Just a little advice: If you want to love yourself more, don’t go on Pintrest.
I particularly like this one particular blog, “ED Bites; recovering from an eating disorder one bite at atime” by Carrie Arnold.  She gets pretty technical because she does a lot of research.  What I like most, however, are the discussions that come from her blog posts.  She reaches a wide audience and I love the diversity in the responses.

Carrie recently published a post titled, “Why I don’t lovemy body and I don’t really care”.

Her point was that she’s recovered from an eating disorder yet still doesn’t love the way her body looks.

During ED recovery, across the board, there is a lot of push to have a positive body image in order to keep the negative thoughts at bay.

But Ms. Arnold was saying that she just can’t love her looks no matter how hard she tries.  And she is at a point now where she’s realized that she doesn’t care if she ever ends up loving the way she looks.

I thought she had an interesting point and reading the article caused me to question how I approach my own self-love.  When I think about it, I am still trying to love the way I look…and I am not sure if that is possible…or necessary.

However, I wasn’t fully satisfied with her article until I read this comment from an “ED Bites” reader:
…I think the important thing to realize is that there is a difference between loving your body’s appearance and loving your body...  Loving your body means feeling gratitude for the amazing things your body does instead of just focusing on how it looks.  It means experiencing the wonder that comes with the realization that you have a trillion cells in your body that all come from the same DNA but are specialized to become skin cells, nerve cells even fat cells etc.  The power that comes with realizing that women have bodies that are capable of creating a whole new ORGAN(!) to support developing life.  The gratitude that comes with realizing that your bones, muscles and nerves carry you, let you walk, type and stroke your soft kitty’s fur.  The amazement that comes when you realize that you carry the genetic signature of your parents, your grandparents, your great-great grandparents and can pass this on to a new generation. Your body is so so much more than the clothes you fit it into, your shape, or your body composition…

I thought whoever wrote this had such beautiful insight.  Loving yourself does not necessarily mean you have to love the way your body looks.

We live in a fallen world, thanks or no thanks to Adam and Eve – whichever way you want look at it.  We are all born with original sin, which means we are going to struggle with sin until we die.  And, speaking of death, every person is going to have to die someday.

My body is not perfect; your body is not perfect.  Actually, all our bodies are slowly headed toward decay.  At the end of time, if we reach eternal life, we WILL have perfect bodies.

There is something deep down inside of us, ingrained in our wiring, that wants to have a perfect body.  We just have to remember, however, that we will not be perfect in this life, but the desire to be perfect is proof that we are meant for something greater.

(This is a superficial way to think about eternal life.  But when you're struggling with an eating disorder, it means a lot.)

On this earth, I might not ever love the way my body looks, and that’s OK.

Instead of focusing on loving the look of my body, I will aim for thankfulness of what my body can do.

I am grateful that my body can:
Write a blog post
Paint a picture
Run a few miles
Weed my garden
Give my husband a hug
Knit a blanket
Make a new and delicious meal
See my family and friends
Canoe down a river
Sit around a campfire
Play games with my friends
Hold a baby
Drink a really good cup of coffee
Listen to a beautiful song
Watch Seinfeld with my husband
Ride a bike
Go to Holy Mass
Sing in a choir
Read a great book
Take an epic nap
Play tennis with a friend
Play with kiddos at a park

Now it’s your turn: make a gratitude list of all the things that your body allows you to do.


  1. like your new logo at top.
    and...yeah I so agree about the Pinterest thing. Just because I like clothes doesnt mean I need to see images of unrealistic perfection pasted across my pinboard. kinda frustrated with that site at present. too much!

    1. Thanks! Right on about the "unrealistic perfection". Even if it wasn't, Pintrest is still sensory overload!