What If You Weren't At War With Your Body?

8 August 2018 | Written by Xenia Ayiotis

My inner rebel is kicking and screaming. I am starting to despair at the messages we receive in women’s magazines.

Many years ago, I would have bought these magazines in a flash with the vain hope of looking like one of those models, only to be disappointed and disheartened with my failure. Today I look at those covers and I sigh a deep sigh of despair.

I have taken some photos of magazine covers on South African shelves over the last few months.

“Look slimmer by Monday”?
Firstly, do they think we are stupid?
Detoxes, cleanses, challenges, eating plans, lifestyle eating – these are all just other words for dieting. And if you have been reading my blogs you will know that:

Diets simply DO NOT work.

Secondly, why should we look slimmer by Monday? The message we are given here is our bodies are a problem and that losing weight is the answer to the problem. It is no wonder that most women regardless of their size suffer from negative body image. How does perpetuating the myth of thinness help women?

For how long have we been subjected to messages from the media that we need to change? Our bodies. Our hair. Our make up. Our homes. Ourselves. The overriding message is that we are not – insert – thin, good, pretty or clever enough as we are. Our appearance is equated with our worth.

It is not surprising that most women feel as if we are not enough.

“Many young girls are constantly consumed by controlling and managing their body image to the extent that they are much more involved in the production of the self than in living.”
– Susi Orbach –

A few years ago I approached a magazine and asked them if they were interested to write a piece about Mindful & Intuitive Eating. Their response was “bring us your weight loss success stories”.

They weren’t interested in how, through this approach, people stopped dieting and felt relaxed and free around food. They were not interested in how women slowly started to appreciate their bodies. They were not interested in the shifts women made around their relationship with food. All they wanted was weight loss stories.

I refused. Mindful and Intuitive Eating is not about weight loss, there are so many benefits that go beyond weight loss. When will the media and our culture understand that it’s not about weight and that it’s precisely the pursuit of weight loss that creates the problem?

Perhaps “accept and embrace your body as it is” doesn’t sell magazines?

I recently attended a retreat at the Buddhist Retreat Centre. We did a timeline of the highs and lows in our lives. I just turned 50 so my timeline was neatly divided into five decades. I realised that over 3 decades of my life have been spent trying to improve, change or fix my body. It’s like the task of Sisyphus. There is simply no end to it. Yes, ending the diet roller coaster and working through my dysfunctional relationship with food and my body has brought me to this meaningful work and I am so grateful for that. But what will it take to accept and let go of this elusive and unrealistic “thin ideal”? What will it take to live our best lives and not put things on hold, regardless of the size of our bodies? Our obsession with our bodies and our appearance consumes our lives.

“I wish we could treat our bodies as the place we live from, rather than regard it as a place to be worked on, as though it were a disagreeable old kitchen in need of renovation and update.”
– Susie Orbach –

When are we as women going to stop supporting these messages? When are we going to stand up and speak up? Our purpose is not to be slimmer by Monday or “to get a sexier butt and legs”.

Our life’s work is not to “curb our cravings forever”. Imagine if we collectively took all the energy, head space, time and money we have wasted on worrying, planning and thinking about our bodies. Imagine that we used all of this energy in creative and meaningful ways, the change we could bring about. Let’s stop trying to fix our bodies and start fixing the culture that says our bodies are a problem.

My Women’s Day wish for all women:

May you learn to treat your precious body with love.
May you learn to look after your body with joy.
May you learn to respect and accept your body with kindness.

Love
Xen

Tired of overeating and feeling out of control around food? Dieting and restriction hasn’t worked for you? Do you want to find peace and freedom around food? Book a free Online Intro Session with me or join my “Food Freedom” 8 Week Programme (available in Jo’burg & Pretoria).

You can also sign up for my free Mindful Eating “Slightly Different” Advent Calendar to enjoy over the festive season.

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Certified by The Life Coach School Certified Life Coach Certified and Trained by The Original Intuitive Eating Pro