Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Thoughts on a Letter to Woman's Day

This weekend I hit the gym for a date with the elliptical machine. I brought my own reading material, but the gym's communal magazine collection seduced me. I grabbed the October 17, 2010 edition of Woman's Day and got down to business.

I hadn't read (and sweated) long before I came across a reader's letter to the magazine. As I said, this wasn't my copy of the magazine so I'm afraid I can't quote anything. The gist of the letter, however, was to thank Woman's Day for helping her to lose weight. The woman wrote that while previously her weight had kept her doing from things that she loved, now she finally feels free to enjoy those same activities.

Of course, the reader's letter brought to mind my recent postings on the same subject of waiting to be -- or feel, which is much harder to achieve -- thin (click here and here for those posts). While I'm glad that the writer of the letter to Woman's Day is feeling good and enjoying life, reading her words also made me feel sad. And not just for her -- I feel sad for myself, and for anyone else who is hiding out until they feel thin enough to be "allowed" to truly live.

Hiding is easy. It sucks, usually, but it's easier than pulling on a pair of muffin top-inducing jeans that are already smaller than when you bought them a week ago and heading out to face the world, and to face reality. It's safer at home, where all I personally have to face is a gracious, loving husband who remains so through all my body's changes and three manic dogs.

But while I'm hiding from the world, I also hide from my feelings. That, I am starting to believe more and more, is the genesis of my eating disorder and food-related struggles. It's not about the food -- it's about using food to effectively to avoid what's really going on in my head and heart, to drug myself with either the elation of over-control or with excess. So while I'm hiding, things aren't getting better. While I'm waiting to feel thin, I'm probably not actually getting thinner. I'm just allowing unhealthy habits to tendril their roots even deeper into my life.

Back to the Woman's Day letter. I remember yoga teacher Dave Farmar saying once during a podcast class something along the lines of, "Why not just be happy now? Why wait for a beautiful butt, because one day age will take over and that mega-toned butt will be gone." (Obviously, this is not a true quote. Bear with me.) I want to say the same thing to the woman who wrote that letter -- and to myself. Why not just be happy now? Why not, indeed.

I have a prime opportunity to make good on this challenge coming up. Next week, I'll be loading my hula-hoops in the car and driving to the redwoods of California for a long weekend at Hoopcamp. I recently received the Hoopcamp itinerary, and reading the list of amazing events made me giggle with excitement. But, even while giggling, I trembled a little. Because Hoopcamp -- at least in my mind -- is sure to be populated with super-skinny, super-scantily-clad women to whom I will compare myself and, as a result, judge myself.

But I know I have to back up a pace, or at least talk back to this negative thinking. Because, as I searched for photos from Hoopcamp 2009 to back up my case, I found this photo (featuring my favorite hooping teacher, who is a professional hoop dance performer and the creator of Hoop City, Safire):

Is Safire super-skinny? Uh, yeah. (And I should add that I think she is also completely healthy, from my limited knowledge of her.) But notice the women flanking her in the background. Notice their range of body sizes. Do they exactly match Safire's body? Nope . . . but they don't appear to be having any less fun as a result. I'd bet money that they're working on their health just like me (and just like every warm-blooded American woman, it seems), but they're obviously not hiding out in their bedrooms waiting until their health goals are achieved. And if they do feel ashamed of anything (size, hair, nose, chin, lips, elbows, etc.), that shaming is likely all in their heads, as my sense of not-good-enough-ness is in mine.

Thanks for the inspiration, ladies. If I meet you (and recognize you!) next week, you'll be sure to get an extra hug from me for your examples.

As for you, lovely readers, have you been not-waiting-feel-[insert arbitrary marker of goodness here] this week? How?

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Announcement! I am looking for guest bloggers for part of next week (Thursday, September 30 through Sunday, October 3, ). If you'd like to guest post here about any of the usual topics (food, eating, recipes, eating disorders, exercise, balance, mental health, hooping, crazy dogs, amazing husbands, etc.), send me an email at kitchencourage (at) yahoo (dot) com. I'd like to have all the guest posts in my inbox by Sunday, September 26 so I can schedule them to post before I head off to California. Thanks, y'all!


  1. Excellent post, Beth. Although my body issues have never led to anorexia or bulimia, they have included a lifelong struggle with things like eating in secret, becoming incredibly adept at lifting the ceramic cookie jar lid noiselessly, feeling shame if I ate more at a meal than my parents thought I should, etc. With the help of God, good friends like you, and my hoops, that's changing, but it's a process.As for what I've been doing instead of waiting-to-feel-thin, I took the stage at church this weekend (twice, in fact) to do a worship dance during a three-day, four-service revival. It was wonderful and nerve-wracking and liberating, and I think I'll write you a blog post about it. ;)

  2. Wow, Traci, that was very courageous of you! I'd be scared stiff to dance, much less worship, in front of four services worth of church goers. Way to go! I'd love to have a guest post on that. :D

  3. Beth I'm so proud of you and this post. I know that even though you write it out, it is still hard to feel the way you write. So my prayers and love are with you as you grapple with negative feelings. Keep writing keep writing keep writing!!! And keep praying. Take the opportunity on your drive out to CA to spend a lot of time with Him. :) That is my un asked for advice of the day!Today...I guess I'm not waiting to get back to work in my studio in the lower level of my home until I find all the mice that are in our basement somewhere...eeek!PS LOVE the new look, so so pretty!

  4. Awww, I wish I was going out there to meet you. Yes, go out there and show 'em what you got! I hear there's so much intense learning out there you barely have time to think or... (insert bodily function)... I imagine you won't have too much time/thought dedicated to anything but immersion. Dive in, lady!

  5. Thank you for sharing this. Have A BLAST at Hoopcamp and please tell us all about it when you get home :-)Lara, Hooposophy


"I am glad you are here with me."
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King