It seems to me like so many people (read: women) in the U.S. are obsessed with controlling their body sizes and doing *whatever they can* to avoid being “fat.”
I have this conversation with my dietitian a lot. Why are we so obsessed with our bodies? When did we decide that a certain body type was “good,” and a certain type was “bad?”
What makes us think that our bodies say more about us that our actions, our passion, our personalities?
I wish I had the answers to these questions, and so does my dietitian. The lack of these answers is why I started this blog and my instagram. Maybe one day I’ll figure it out.
For now, let’s talk about set points.
Some people may have heard this term used to describe the weight range in which their body naturally falls. A set point is the weight your body ends up with little to no effort to lose weight, gain weight, or anything in between. It’s pretty much just the place where your body (not necessarily your mind–more on this later) is most happy.
Some people have higher set points than others, and some people have lower set points. I have a friend who is very naturally petite, and a friend who is in a larger body. Neither one of them has a “good” body or a “bad” body. They both just have bodies.
My dietitian likes to call bodies “meat suits,” because that’s pretty much all they are.
So anyway, my friend who is naturally in a smaller body just has a different set point and shape than my friend who in in a bigger body. I’ve got friends in all different body shapes and sizes, and when you actually start to think about it, you might realize that no body is the same.
The only bodies that really look the “same” are the bodies we see on magazines and billboards; the bodies that have been manipulated by a computer mouse to not have a skin fold when they bend forward. Spare me. That’s the most unrealistic shit I’ve ever seen.
And I’m not trying to say that accepting your natural body size is an easy thing. In fact, most people spend a good portion of their lives trying to change their body and control their body, and they end up really unhappy.
To me, it seems like a waste of time to let my *meat suit* get in the way of living a good life. I’m so much more interesting in being a good friend, girlfriend, student, daughter, sister, and someday a wife and a mom than I am about having a “good” body.
The more I even type the phrase “good” body, the worse it sounds. How can a body even be “good” or “bad?” You wouldn’t call a coffee mug “good” or “bad,” would you? It’s literally just a mug. It’s a vehicle for your coffee, your tea. Just like your body is vehicle for your soul.
I’ve decided that if I ever write a memoir, it’s going to be titled “Life in an Average-Sized Body.” There’s nothing really that special about my body, and I’m okay with that. I’m not super petite, I’m not big, or tall. I literally just have an average body. You’d see me walking down the street (and probably not even notice anything about my body because it’s so average), but if you did, you’d say: “huh, look at that girl in her average body.” It’s really normal looking, just like yours.
And that’s the exact thing: everybody’s body is average. This weird “standard” of bodies is a social construct and invented by corporations and the media to make people spend money on weight loss products and make-up to cover our “flaws.” They’re not even flaws, they’re just normal things.
I’ll be the first to say that I don’t always practice what I preach. I do my best to appreciate my body and experience it in it’s natural form, but some days that is hard. Some days the societal messages are loud and I feel like my body is *too this* or *not enough that.* On days like those, I try to think less about my body and more about the other aspects of my life. It always helps.
Now, back to what I said above about your *mind* not liking your set point. Take your brain out of this equation. It literally has no say in this conversation. The only thing that has a say in your body’s needs, shape, size, etc. is your body. Allowing your brain to waltz in and tell your body what to do is like you walking in to the mechanic and telling them how to fix your car.
If you’re in recovery from an eating disorder, you probably can’t trust your mind to be involved in this “conversation” about your body’s needs–at least not in early recovery. That’s why so much of recovery is listening to your body and trusting it to ask for what it needs.
Giving up this control over your body when you enter recovery is scary and hard. And there will be days in recovery when you really want to control your body, and when your ED convinces you that you’ll feel better if you do (trust me, you won’t.)
This problem is so much bigger than just the recovery community. This problem is world wide, in a sense. Just now with the body positive movements we’re seeing are we starting to experience a shift in what in considered a “good” and “bad” body.
There’s “good” or “bad” way to have a body. If you think you have a “good” body, you’re probably getting that message from outside sources of media outlets and disordered rules. If you think you have a “bad” body, you’re probably comparing your body to LITERALLY FAKE images of bodies in the media or to someone who is sick and/or just has a different set point than yours.
Stop moralizing bodies. Your body is fine just the way it is. It’s just a body, don’t give it more power than that.