Does my age or body size give you pause?
Is it difficult to trust that a young, thin woman could help anyone, especially older, larger people make peace with food and let go of pursuing thinness?
If so, I get it. I’ve long ago made friends with this elephant in the room.
I’ve lost track of how many times people have commented, sometimes kindly, sometimes rudely, on my body size or age.
And again I get it. Truly I do.
It makes some sense that you’d be skeptical of a thinner ‘love your body’ advocate or a young life coach. I probably would be too if I hadn’t walked my path inside of my body.
I understand if you make these assumptions. I understand if my appearance results in snap judgements.
I understand if it’s hard to trust me when I don’t look like the stereotype of someone who might relate to your experience or help you find a more peaceful way to live.
I also understand that I’m powerless over the shape of my body. I gave up trying to control, or even shape, that a long time ago. Instead I’m committed — purely devoted — to embracing whatever body is the result of my walking the path of inward listening and kindness.
And here’s the thing, my body is nearly identical to my sister and my mother (when she was my age) neither of whom ever struggled with food. My body is pretty much genetics mixed with kindness. Seriously.
And I haven’t always been this size. During the years of disconnected eating I yo-yo’d like the best of them. At one point my closet had eight different sizes in it.
I also don’t expect to always be this size. Like everything in life, our weight changes. I simply do my best to practice non-attachment, which is, by the way, much easier the less I draw my sense of worth, power, beauty or lovability from my pants size.
I share all this about my body knowing that for some people intuitive eating, the approach I teach, will result in no body size change or an increase in body size, depending on a whole host of factors including genetics, past dieting behavior, age— this is what is called a set-point weight. (Dr. Linda Bacon says that they way to find your set-point weight is “by listening to your body and eating normally.”)
It is entirely unjust and outrageous that moving through the world is easier for me because I take up less than space than someone else. Few things make me as flaming furious.
But it’s important that I don’t then turn around and feel shame for how I look.
In the end I try to pay very little attention to what others might think, especially those who are going to write me off in a split second. I also try to be as aware as possible of my immense privilege in our sizist, ageist, racist, sexist world.
What I’ve sought to do over the years is share with you who I am beyond a two-dimensional image. Through my words, through video, through the testimonials of so many who have worked with me I have tried to communicate that I am not what you (or even I) might think just by looking at me.
So why write this post now?
Recently I received an email from a woman who was truly perplexed (perhaps even suspicious of fraud) that a thin woman could claim that with Feast I wasn’t selling weight-loss.
While I believe my messaging is clear, I wondered if perhaps there might be other skeptics out there. In fact, I’m sure there are and I’m sure I won’t convince all of them that inside this form is a size-positive, eats-whatever-she-wants, deeply wise teacher and coach. That’s okay.
My intention here is actually less to have you check your assumptions about me, but rather to check the assumptions you make about everyone.
What are physical attributes that cause you to have a split second judgement?
In what ways do you make assumptions about thin people that you have no real evidence of being true?
And what about fat people? When you see them eating rich foods at a restaurant do you have critical thoughts? What if they are eating a salad, what thoughts go through your head then? If you see a fat person exercising do you think the same things as if you saw a thin person exercising?
If a fat person is struggling to be accommodated by an airplane seat, do you make assumptions about them? Do you assume they are unhealthy? Unfit? Lazy? Gluttonous?
Do you see thin women and think “I wish I could look like her” without knowing if her body is the result of peace or war?
When someone you know loses weight do you automatically think it’s a good thing? And the reverse? If someone you know gains weight do you feel badly for them? Assume they ate too much or need to exercise more?
What about age? Do you assume elderly people are less able or less quick of mind? Perhaps you assume people that are younger can’t also be wise?
I think we as a people have been rather lazy (myself included) in answering the call to wake up from our judging minds. We continue to participate through our words, purchases (ahem…US Weekly, etc.), actions, and inactions in perpetuating the idea that you can tell from what a person looks like who they are, where they come from, their worth, their intelligence, and how they live their life.
You can’t. I can’t.
We simply don’t know, even when our minds tell us we do, so let’s try just a little harder to see beyond the surface.