Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Love Your Body Day 2010 -Today! Spread the Word
It's almost midnight, and I had to get myself out of bed after realizing that I had not written a post today for Love Your Body Day 2010. The National Organization for Women, with which I am very involved, began this special day some years ago, and it has spread throughout the country from NOW chapters to college campuses to high schools, as a day to raise awareness about the objectification of women's bodies. In this country where we are bombarded with hundreds of images each day that use women's bodies to sell products because a woman's body is worth money, and where the unachievable cultural expectation for women to be stick thin, polished, without a freckle or a pimple or a wrinkle or a ripple - we have a problem. Young girls, by the millions, start hating their bodies around puberty when they enter into the realm of woman-hood, because in woman-hood, there is misogyny that surrounds you and it is this misogyny that contributes to the diet industry's $40 billion a year profits, and to the hellish nightmare of eating disorders for countless young women.
I almost died of anorexia. But, worse, a part of me did die from anorexia. I gained that part back to an extent, but I'll never get all of it back. A piece of that disorder lives with me still, and I doubt I will fully outgrow it in my lifetime. I certainly try, but I still dislike being overweight a great deal, and this has major effects on my self-esteem.
There was a time when I could tell you how many calories and fat grams I had eaten in the past week, to the exact number. I lived in a world of numbers, where starvation was the goal, and self-hatred was the fuel. I couldn't think clearly about other things, because of all the thoughts of the numbers. I couldn't accept myself as a person with flaws. I had to punish myself, to search for perfection. I would have probably developed some type of mental health problem related to low self esteem even if anorexia didn't exist. But the fact that it does exist, and the reason I got that particular problem, is our culture's obsession with objectifying women.
If you care about this problem, and you want to do something about it, there is much research on the internet. Some is at my very old website, at http://womensstudies.homestead.com/eating.html and an excellent resource is Jean Kilbourne and her documentaries, called, Killing Us Softly, which discuss exactly how advertising destroys women's self esteem and perpetuates misogyny every second of every day. You can also get involved with NOW or another feminist organization and empower yourself while advocating for the empowerment of all women and girls, and equality between the sexes.
Finally I want to say that, if you're reading this and you suffer from an eating disorder, there is hope for you to get your life back. There is recovery and there is a fight that you can battle and win. I, and many other women, have come out of the hellish nightmare of calories and fat grams into a world where we can focus on other, more important things, like actually living our lives. Eating disorders are prisons, but there are keys to the doors. Do not give up. You are stronger than you think you are. Seek help, be honest with yourself and your healthcare providers if you have them, find a support group online or in person. Read books like Wasted, by Marya Hornbacher. Figure out why you hate yourself, and work on beginning to love yourself instead. It's not easy. It was the hardest thing I had ever done. But it is possible, and you can get to the other side. You deserve to live freely.