For most of my life, whenever I body bash, there are others around me who tell me that I am beautiful. I cannot recall times when anyone has ever agreed with my criticisms of body disgust and ugliness. However, recently, someone close to me called me the ugly duckling. At first, I felt shocked and thought that there was no way that person could have really meant it.
But then as it started to sink in, many other feelings took over—hate, anger, shame, and a profound fear that it is the truth—that it is some cavernous secret that I have tried to cover with makeup, fashion, and false smiles exuding confidence that I did not really feel. I felt an immense shame and disgust, first that the comment bothered me as much as it did, and second, that some days I think it is true. These feelings made me question who I am, and reevaluate whether Intuitive Eating is even working. I immediately wanted to diet, get skinnier, waste away into a paper-thin empty shell—something I have not wanted to do almost since starting Intuitive Eating.
Now, the person who made the comment of ugliness did not cause all this. It was merely a trigger that dug into my deepest fear and needled past every defense that I had. I have faced strong triggers like this before and been able to conquer them, yet this time was different. After pondering what made it different, I realized that this trigger came from a different source, someone I trusted and respected, and never anticipated a comment like that. I expect comments, innuendos, and guilt-trips from society, diet-ads, and exercise enthusiasts, but when it comes from a person close to me, it feels like a betrayal.
WHAT TO DO WITH PAIN
The pain I am feeling is so great that I am unsure what to do with it at first. I decide that there is nothing for it—but to feel it, let it take its course. I cry. I rage. I pray. I think.
Here’s a glimpse into what I think about—my mindfulness monologue goes something like this: I am fat, ugly, and disgusting. Wow, I just body-bashed because of that comment. It really triggered me and now I feel confused and very angry… I want to retreat into the fetal position under a very heavy comforter and cry and scream and rip my pillow to shreds… Whoa, I am having some really strong reactions. I think I’ll need to examine this more closely when I’ve given myself some time to feel and work through it. Wait a minute, that’s what I’m doing right now—working through it. And I am still so confused about why I reacted this way…maybe I need a thinking cap?
And slowly, ever so slowly, I forgive, and I begin to reevaluate where to go from here. And I find that I actually begin a paradigm shift from where I have been. Originally, my goal with Intuitive Eating was to embrace my body—flaws and all—but my new reevaluated goal is to actually see my body and all other bodies differently. Here me out on this one.
I know that a person is not simply a product of their body shape, size, appearance, etc., but the combination of their body and spirit or personality. At first, I thought that I wanted to learn to look past the body and see individuals for who they really are based on their personality. But, that’s not true anymore. I want to be able to look at the average individuals that I come into contact on a daily basis, and see them as both the product of their body and their personality. Okay, stick with me on this one–I know I’m going all philosophical. The personality part has never been a problem for me–I am usually able to give others the benefit of the doubt, see their good intentions, and understand why they do the things they do. However, seeing their bodies as anything but sizes, shapes, or objects of envy is something I have never been able to do.
My new goal is to see bodies differently. I want to be able to see them as beautiful creations of God over which we have been given stewardship and what I typically view as flaws, are not at all. In fact, those “flaws” are stamps of God’s artistic fingerprints on my body and my life. He gave me the body that he meant to—it was no accident; there were no mistakes when he made me. Even bodies that have been misused, abused, broken, neglected, or harmed—even those bodies started the way God made them and nothing on this Earth can undo the beauty they inherently have. They simply need some extra TLC (tender love and care), but merely the fact that they need some TLC will not preclude me from trying to see them as they once were and what they can be. So, what started out as a fear-triggering, soul-wrenching event turned into an inspiring reevaluation of goals and a profound and necessary paradigm shift.
What do you guys think? Share me your stories. Have you ever been called the ugly duckling or thought of yourself as one?