9 out of 10 women opt out of social activities because they’re ashamed of their body.
Looking at that the statistic is shocking at first.
But, it’s also alarmingly normalizing (in a twisted, comforting sort of way) for women who struggle with food and body.
It’s an indication that we’re not alone in the struggle.
*insert sigh of relief* (#amiright?)
I sit with and support women day in and day out who struggle with their body image and relationship to food, so I know very well that the numbers don’t lie.
I’ve also been one of those women.
So, girl, I’m with you.
I understand the truth and the pain of missing out on life because of food and my body.
→Opting out of dinner plans because of not being able to control the calories in the food on the menu.
→Saying no to a shore trip so you don’t have to be caught for a second in a bathing suit.
→Showing up to a party after dinner and dessert so you don’t have to be faced with food decisions, or feel out of control around forbidden foods.
→Saying no to plans with friends because you can’t miss that workout at the gym.
We exert so much energy trying to control our food and trying to control the way our bodies appear.
Because we’ve been taught to believe that this kind of control will be the antidote to the parts of our lives, the parts of ourselves, that we feel most vulnerable about.
→Our ability to make things look easy. Like we’ve got our shit together.
Control in its basic form is a response to feeling powerless in some way.
So when we look at the staggering number of women engaging in disordered eating patterns, it makes so much sense.
We feel powerless. We feel ashamed. We feel self-doubt.
So we control in a way that we hope will help us counteract those intense, and at times, consuming feelings.
To (cross-your-fingers) feel like we’ve leveled up and can FINALLY belong.
Because if we can belong, we’ll be worthy.
Ladies, if only it were that simple.
Take a minute and get quiet with yourself and consider this...
How are you feeling vulnerable in your life?
In what areas are you feeling a sense of powerlessness or emptiness (your relationships? your self esteem? your job? are comparisons running rampant?)
And how is that powerlessness manifesting in your drive to control the food you eat and the way your body shows up in the world?
To put it another way... what are you hoping you gain by exerting this type of control?
Now, get super honest… has it really ever worked in the past?
No, not for like 5 minutes. Or even 5 hours.
For lasting relief.
I’m not saying that to be harsh.
But grinding for thinness doesn't magically make vulnerabilities and real, raw, intense emotions disappear.
It simply distracts us and pulls us away from what's really important to us.
And allows us to temporarily forget, or remain numb to, the things that really need healing.
I know, it’s a hell of a lot easier to control your calories-in and calories-out than to jump headfirst into dealing with the exhausting anxiety, lingering feelings of depression, the relationship that’s falling apart or seemingly endless life transitions and the feelings of grief that accompanies them.
When we respond to our vulnerabilities by trying control in other ways, those measures of control end up controlling us.
Severing our ability to trust ourselves.
And putting us directly on the sidelines of our own lives- missing out on opportunities and experiences that will add perspective, richness and connection that may actually be the antidote to vulnerability and powerlessness.
Where are you feeling empty in your life?
What are you dying for more of? Love? Affection? Fun? Play? Connection?
Get clear on those things.
Instead of continuing to do what you’ve always done- trying to control the outside- do what will actually serve you for the long term.
Create opportunities that welcome the feelings you're longing for and that you want to experience more of.
It’s when we heal the inside that we’ll shift the statistics.
It's then that control won't distract us and pull us away from we're really looking for.
It's then that 9 out of 10 women will attend social activities regardless of their body shape or size.
Because we'll allow ourselves to truly experience life, satisfaction, connection, love and raw emotion outside of the control.
In the flesh.
In the body that allows us to experience. To love. To live. To enjoy. The connect. To heal.
Don't push away or cover up vulnerability. Lean into it to reclaim your power and loosen your grip on control.
That's where the magic happens.
I'm a self-love, body image and eating disorder therapist in Horsham, PA.
I help people make peace with their minds, bodies and food and learn how to see, appreciate and love all that they are.
I specialize in treating anxiety, binge eating and helping women learn how to stop dieting and really start living.
Questions? Get in touch here!