As you can see, I’m still promoting “Bien dans sa peau” – To be comfortable in your own skin! I asked a good friend of mine, Dr. Dina Zeckhausen to share with us her point of view on body image and loving yourself! I hope this inspires you!
Here it is, the third week in January. Are you already beating yourself up for failing to follow through on your New Year’s diet resolutions? Have you noticed that the more times you ride the roller coaster, the more extreme the ups and downs have become? (Weight Watchers one year, Paleo the next, a 5-day Juice Cleanse the next…) Still holding onto the myth that the right food plan will fix your poor body image for good?
The myth (propagated by the media and the plastic surgery industry) is that if we just fix the outsides, our lives will fall into place: perfect body leads to perfect love, perfect job, perfect life, right? So why do so many of us find that, as we get older, dieting gets harder?
It’s not that you’re getting lazy. It’s that deep inside you sense (even though you may not be able to put it into words) that you are barking up the wrong tree.
Two things have happened to you.
First, you suffered.
Loss, illness and death shock us out of our fantasy about a perfect life. While we try desperately to maintain the illusion on Facebook and Instagram, if the suffering doesn’t break us it does manage to spoil our illusions. After the initial anger at the unfairness of it all, we may come to realize that the suffering helps us re-set our priorities. It teaches us what really matters. It’s harder to stick to a diet because we have discovered that the temporary high from being the skinniest girl at the party is short-lived and ultimately empty. It’s the conversations and connections with people, the moments of understanding and compassion, that make life meaningful and fulfilling.
Second, you got wiser.
Over time our sense of self broadens and deepens. As kids we compared ourselves to others on the playground to see where we stood in the pecking order: she’s taller than me, he’s faster than me. As teens we competed in the realm of stuff: brand names and cool cars. But as we age, we shift from an outward to an inward perspective. We develop a self image based on inner qualities. We become more giving, creative and bold. We know our minds, we speak up, we trust our instincts. As we feel wiser and more settled inside of ourselves, the superficial aspects of ourselves (e.g. fitting into our daughter’s skinny jeans) take on less meaning and emotional charge. Vanity becomes a less potent motivator.
So perhaps 2014 is not about making your body smaller but about making your body image a smaller slice of the You-Pie. It’s about shifting your perspective. That doesn’t mean throwing in the towel on eating and physical activity. It means choosing the grilled salmon because the Omega 3’s fight cancer. It means taking a morning walk because it helps you feel mentally sharp. A positive body image is about accepting that spending too much time, energy and money on making yourself look perfect won’t buy you true joy or connection. It’s about appreciating that your body is simply the vessel you were given to carry your amazing spirit into the world. Honor your body by speaking to it lovingly and treating it kindly.
About Dina Zeckhausen
Dina Zeckhausen grew up in New Hampshire and attended Williams College. She received her doctorate in Clinical-Community Psychology from the University of South Carolina and completed her internship at Georgia State University. She and her husband, psychologist Gerald Drose, established Powers Ferry Psychological Associates, a private practice which currently has grown to include twenty psychologists.
In 1996, she founded the Eating Disorders Information Network (EDIN). That year she wrote the play “What’s Eating Katie?” soon followed by Full Mouse, Empty Mouse (Magination Press, 2007) the first children’s book addressing eating problems in kids. Since then she’s developed eating disorder prevention programs for students from K-12 as well as for moms of young daughters. She presents on eating disorders to educators, parents and students, as well as for community groups, churches, corporations, professionals and the media. She’s brought her prevention programs to schools from the Upper East Side of Manhattan to the heart of Hollywood. For contact information, please click here.