Despite all the talk of self-love and self-acceptance, why do I still want to be thin? Why do I have such struggle accepting myself as overweight? It’s not because I’m a shallow person – I do NOT value thinness or appearance above all else, and I don’t like shallow people in general. So, why do I care about this? Well, body size is important to me because I perceive it as the only thing I can control. If I’m thin, people might overlook my other defects. I can’t change how pretty or interesting or fun I am, but I can (sometimes) control my figure.
So, you see, the issue isn’t really about wanting to be thin. It’s about wanting to be liked, wanting approval and belonging … but never feeling good enough It’s about feeling like thinness is (was) the only thing I had to offer the world – the only thing to make me appealing to others. When I finally became thin around the age of 20, I felt like I finally had something of value to the world, to the people around me. It was like the whole world was suddenly available to me – maybe I could be accepted, maybe I could even be envied. Sure, I have good qualities, such as intelligence and compassion, but most of our society doesn’t place high value on those qualities. Or maybe it does, but I’ve just believed all the lies from the media all these years.
Or maybe I need to expand my circle of friends and acquaintances to include more people who actually share my values and interests. My therapist suggested this today, and it felt like a revelation. Why am I trying so hard to fit in to an appearance-obsessed pop culture that I despise – and beating myself up when I don’t succeed?
The desire to belong is just human nature, I think. But it doesn’t have to mean belonging to the dominant superficial ideals of American media culture. I don’t have to let other people dictate what is important to ME; I can decide that for myself.
But, where to start? How to start crawling out of the deep, dark hole of low self-esteem? How to stop seeking approval from others and start giving it to myself? Although I’ve stopped binging and dramatically improved my relationship with food, this body image stuff keeps the eating disorder and anxiety alive and well inside my head. Well, I guess I’m a work in progress. And that will have to be OK for now.
Please share your thoughts in the comments, if this post resonated with you at all. As always, thanks for reading! 🙂