Monday, September 5, 2011
Is Your Body Acceptable?
First of all, I want to say a huge “thank you” to everyone who participated in the conversation last week as I launched this new topic. And a special thanks to those of you who shared a part of your story—I appreciate your vulnerability and transparency. I offer you today’s post in the same spirit.
I must begin my story today with a very important clarification. The story below displays my dad in a not-so-favorable light, therefore I think it’s absolutely necessary to tell you that I highly esteem my father, and he is, in all honesty, one of the most loving and giving people I know. At the time of this story, he was going through a very difficult and painful period in his life and in many ways wasn’t “himself” or the man I know him as today.
At the same time, I felt it was important to name him in this story because I believe parents and other influential adults need to be extremely careful about the words they speak into the lives of their children. They will have lifelong ramifications, either good or bad.
Okay, enough of the pomp and circumstance, let’s get to the nitty gritty.
As I wrote about last Monday, by the age of 7 I’d already firmly established myself in the role of an emotional eater. So when my parents’ marriage split up when I was in fifth grade, I dealt with it by, you guessed it, eating.
I had always been a “daddy’s girl” so when my dad left, I felt a loss that my 10 year old mind couldn’t cope with. Simply put, I missed him terribly. So I ate to fill that loss but it just kept leaking out the bottom of my soul and my only solution was to keep feeding it.
Then one day, during a weekend visit with my dad, my eating issue got compounded about a hundred fold. I remember sitting at a small table in the middle of a Pizza Hut, eating lunch with him, when he said to me, “You know, you’re gonna have to stop eating so much. You’re getting fat.”
And suddenly and irrevocably the floodgates opened. Up until that point, I was definitely aware that I was chubbier than my other friends, but it didn’t define me. I still liked me despite my extra rolls. But when my dad said “you’re getting fat,” what started as the loss of his regular presence in my life evolved into complete and total rejection by him. My heart had translated his above comment into: “If you are fat, you are unacceptable.” I know he didn’t mean for me to interpret his words that way, but I did all the same.
Over twenty years later, I still struggle with the self-loathing that began on that day.
What was the “moment” that created the body concept that you have today? Do you find your body “acceptable”?