A few weeks ago I was standing in line at the grocery store when the cover of a tabloid caught my attention. Now I know I shouldn't let tabloids get to me but this one did. One of the featured articles was about summer's weight loss winners and losers. Images of two famous females were on the cover as an example of a winner and a loser. The winner--Jessica Simpson in a bathing suit on the beach. The loser--Kelly Clarkson walking down the street looking a little frumpy. What made me angry and sad and a little sick was this tabloid came out right around the same time Kelly Clarkson was coming clean about her struggle with bulimia. She was opening up about her battle with weight and body image and her struggle with self acceptance and because she's trying to learn to be okay with her weight the way it is she was being called a loser. Before leaving the store I noticed another magazine cover, this one featuring a glamorous picture of Kelly Clarkson and beneath it in quotes it said something like, "I'm finally happy with my weight." I hoped this was true. I hoped that the media's relentless insistence that women be super skinny was an issue Ms. Clarkson was learning to ignore in favor of loving herself.
I know the reason this upset me so much really had very little to do with Kelly Clarkson and everything to do with my own weight/body issues. Seeing a fellow bulimic whose fighting to save herself from the voices that can drive one to do unthinkable things to their body being labeled as a weight loss loser because she might be a tab bit heavier than other female celebrities infuriates me...and saddens me. And I hate to admit the truth but it made me feel a little bit like a loser too. After all if Kelly Clarkson can't live up to society's expectations how can I? It truly feels that way at times and I wonder if the day will ever come when my weight actually won't be an issue anymore.
My weight tends to be so intricately tied to my depression. Sadly when I'm thin I'm happier and when I gain a few pounds the sadness begins to grab hold of me again. While there certainly are other factors that impact my struggle with depression I do know that my thoughts and feelings about my body is a big one. Last November/December I had lost some weight and was feeling really good in my body and about myself. You may even remember the sexy red shoes I bought back in January. In February I felt the weight coming back on and the depression sneaking up...and the red shoes went back on the closet shelf and haven't been worn since. It's been awhile since I've felt sexy. Now maybe a sure fire antidote is to pull those red shoes back off the closet shelf. The only problem is I can't fit into any of my jeans so the whole thing just seems to suck all the life right out of me.
What I want to say is, god, releasing all this and trying to just be okay with my weight, no matter what that might be, sometimes feels impossible. It sometimes feels like one of the hardest things I've ever been faced with. I take courage from those who have shared their story of hope, those women who have finally settled into a relationship with themselves where they truly can rest in self acceptance.
I've been in therapy regarding my weight and depression issues off and on since college. When I was younger I used to think that one day something would finally click and my issues with my body would miraculously be healed. I'd read just the right book, find just the right quote, pray just the right prayer, experience just the right experience and a light would flash and I'd be changed forever. Poof! My issues would vanish and I'd live happily ever after. I'm not saying that's not possible but I am saying it's not likely. More than likely this will always be an issue for me. It will always be one of my soft spots, one of those areas that will always need a little healing. I'm starting to learn that our issues are our issues and we'll always carry them and while sudden healing may happen most of the time healing is slow and happens over time...and with a lot of intention. But that's okay because I'm also learning that the more work I put into accepting myself, especially the size and weight of my body, the more those issue loose their power. They may still be there and they may still get stirred up, like when I read about Kelly Clarkson being called a weight loss loser, but those issues don't hold the same power they did at one time. And every time my body image issues start to creep up, bringing with it the depression and the loathing, I'm in a different place with myself because I've changed, I've grown, I've learned a little more since the last time, I've had more life experiences that have empowered and strengthened me, I've build relationships that understand the battle and support me as I struggle to learn to live in my own skin with love and gratitude. It doesn't hurt the way it did when I was a teenager. It doesn't hurt the way it did when I was in my twenties. And I take a leap of faith and believe one day I'll say it doesn't hurt the way it did when I was in my thirties. I want to believe that little by little it will hurt less and less. And little by little I'll learn to live in love and acceptance.