Are You Chasing Bodily Perfection in the Hopes of Finding Self-Love?

I had an epiphany a couple of months ago.

I was still trying to hold on to my eating disorder in more ways than I was comfortable to admit to myself. I was still only eating certain foods.

I was still controlling my appetite up to a point where I was constantly hungry and I was still working out more than I probably should have or even really wanted to.

And why was I doing this? Well, I liked the size I wore back then. I liked my body the way it was. My stomach was still flat enough, my thighs and shape still small enough for me to really love my body.

I was scared of letting go of this one last pillar tying me to my ever-present self-control. I was scared that once I ate what I felt like eating, I’d suddenly stop being worthy, lovable and, well, satisfied with myself.

I was also engaging in the same thoughts when I was still heavily anorexic. I was thinking that I’d never be able to love my body once one couldn’t see my ribcage anymore. I was convinced that I couldn’t live, breathe or look in the mirror without the world seemingly going to end.

I believed I was going to be judged and thought less of once I lost this (what I then perceived as the only) “strength” of mine.

And so I held on to the vicious cycle of not eating enough, exercising too much and abusing laxatives. I succeeded in forming my body to society’s standards and as my world fell apart, brought myself to believe that I was going to be happy, successful and wealthy if only I lost even more weight. In other words, I bought into what the media had brainwashed me to do.

However, the deeper I fell, the more I saw that even though I wore a size 0 (or even smaller than that), nothing got better and instead everything got worse. My relationships, my dignity, my health, my integrity and so much more were on the brink of total destruction.

I had chased a dream of bodily perfection in order to silence my inner turmoil and had never realized that it was just an unrealistic, unattainable goal.

Which dreams are you holding on to when it comes to your body?

Are you naturally bigger and are starving yourself because you think this will bring you some form of self-acceptance?

Are you working out too hard and fight your body’s natural shape in the hopes of finding self-love and self-worth? Are you engaging in other forms of getting rid of the food you consumed in order to fulfill a societal standard that only 2% of all the women worldwide are able to live up to?

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing bad about working out and eating healthily, but there comes a point when we have to accept that if we want to function properly, have enough energy, be able to think and perform, we need to let go of this quest for perfection when it comes to physical appearance.

We need to let go of the lie that by losing pounds, we’ll gain self-worth.

We need to let go of the belief that by shaping our bodies a certain way, we’ll feel better, empowered and self-loved.

For me, the realization that I would survive possibly gaining a bit more weight when it would give me a lot more personal freedom was incredible. I suddenly knew that I would survive wearing a bigger size, being just as beautiful as I was before, if I could eat fries or pizza every once in a while and skip going to the gym whenever I didn’t feel like going.

Now, a few months later I can tell you that not only did I survive being more relaxed about my body, my quality of living has improved in ways that is hard to describe.

I did not lose my love for my body, but found an even more intimate one.

I did not lose my self-worth, but built upon the one I already had.

I did not face social rejection, but made more friends than ever before.

And my weight settled in a natural setpoint range and so will yours, if you only let it.

Be active. Be healthy.

But stop going after a bodily ideal that you can’t achieve or only if you’ll do damage or harm to yourself.

A bodily idea that will never ever ever bring you happiness, fulfillment and self-worth.

No matter how many people in the news, in the magazines or even here on social media are trying to tell you.

I want to hear from you: Are you chasing the dream that if only you got rid of more pounds, you’d finally be in love with yourself? Are you hurting yourself because you believe that’s the only way to be accepted? Or are you completely free from all these self-doubts and at peace with your appearance?

P.S. If all this sounds very familiar to you, then subscribe to the Body Image Revolution Early Bird Newsletter for tons of body image empowerment tips!

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Valerie

    You are absolutely right with what you´re saying, it is completely idiotic to chase after bodily perfection and to think that we are only worth something when we reached the perfect weight and when we fulfilled what the medias wants us to be like. It is crazy but unfortunately so many of us are seriously convinced of this idea! Even me I am so much more confident and I like myself so much better when I have lost some pounds even though my boyfriend always tells me that I am beautiful no matter how much I weigh. Is it really worth it to chase after the perfect weight and losing so so so much precious time on the way to this goal of which we expect to bring us total happiness? If something worthless like having the ideal weight is one of our biggest goals in life then it is really poor and sad. Anne, I wish that many people read what you are writing about and even believing it to change their views and ideas because what you say is so unbelievably important!!! Thank you!

    • http://aMINDmedia.com/ Anne-Sophie

      Valerie,

      one point you said is so important: the amount of time we lose and waste by obsessing over our bodies. Just think how much more important things we could do with our thoughts and our actions if we stopped trying to fit into a preformed notion of what women should look like. Yes, it really would be sad if achieving the perfect body would be our life’s goal, but unfortunately it often is the brutal reality.

      Thank you for your wonderful comment and for empowering us to re-evaluate our lives and what it is that is truly important to us.

      Love you

  • social growth united

    What a fantastic article

    • http://aMINDmedia.com/ Anne-Sophie

      Thank you! :)

  • http://www.devacoaching.com Sandi Amorim

    The past year has opened my eyes by delivering its lesson in the form of joint pain. The gift of it has been that I am now thinking in terms of feeling good in my body, feeling comfortable in my skin rather than pounds, sizes and weight. Yes, I am still committed to letting go of weight, but not to reach a particular number on the scale or size at the store. I’m committed because that’s one measure of feeling better and better in my body.

    I appreciate the thoughtfulness of this post, and the timing was perfect!

    • http://aMINDmedia.com/ Anne-Sophie

      Sandi, thanks so much for your comment.

      Life sometimes gives you important lessons in unexpected forms. I’m so impressed by your positive and healthy mindset.

      Having the goal of feeling GREAT inside your body is the only way to succeed (in my humble opinion) in losing weight or finding that balance between overeating and undereating (which has been my problem).

      If you focus on what is good for your body, you’ll make the right and healthy decisions, quite naturally.

  • http://twitter.com/ArielleLeeBair Arielle Lee Bair

    Very true words, Anne-Sophie. I’m glad you were able to be honest with yourself and share that honesty with others. That’s what helps people most, I think! I like to say, “A smaller size is not a prize.” Self-worth isn’t determined by body weight or size. That goes for naturally small, thin ladies too! They are beautiful and their self-worth is independent of how they look. Happiness isn’t in body, it isn’t even in health (though health is a beautiful thing!). Happiness is inside, in the living of life… and health helps that real living and loving to happen! :-) Keep up the positive work.

    • http://aMINDmedia.com/ Anne-Sophie

      Arielle,

      I’m so happy to see you commenting here. :)

      You are so very right, happiness has nothing to do with outside appearances, but it all comes from a deep satisfaction rooted inside. Only if you can accept what is underneath your skin will you ever be truly happy and fulfilled.

  • http://twitter.com/LolaSpeaking Rita Chand

    Anne-Sophie, I know we spent a lot of time talking about this very thing when we had dinner in Portland. Thank you for sharing it and putting it out there. I so appreciate how much you share and how openly about your struggles with your body. Funny how we often think we’re alone in it, when there are so many others who struggle too. So thanks for being that person.

    • http://aMINDmedia.com/ Anne-Sophie

      You’re too kind, Rita. Thanks for commenting here. I strongly believe that by sharing our struggles, we help others because we tend to have very similar issues.

      Knowing that we’re never really alone, no matter the issues we’re facing, makes a huge difference and is often a great comfort.

  • Privy Trifles

    Hello,

    I would confess yes there were times when I was practically obsessed with my body. I am genetically plump – not over weight, but not the lean mean types. During my college days I was very embarrassed as people called me fat and I could never dress up to look beautiful.

    Very recently I realised that I am not plump, but owning to that constant comments I received I had started wearing clothes almost 1-2 sizes larger than mine which made me look more fat. I worked on my clothing style and lo! I was a different person altogether. Now the comments I receive are not negative, they say I am perfect, lean looks unhealthy.

    I feel at the end of the day its all about how you see yourself and carry yourself. The moment that changes, everything else also does! :)

    • http://aMINDmedia.com/ Anne-Sophie

      Hi Privy,

      How you dress or choose to decorate yourself (because that’s what you should do with that beautiful body of yours) makes a HUGE difference.
      I’m so happy for you that you’ve had this paradigm shift and that it’s empowered you.
      You’re totally right, in the end all that counts is our own perception. We’re all worthy and valuable, but only when we start to believe it, will it have a positive effect on our life.
      It looks like you’ve got it figured out. :)

      Anne-Sophie

      http://aMINDmedia.com
      Empower Yourself

      Am 23.08.2012 um 14:25 schrieb “Disqus” :

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  • http://www.liberatefromweight.com/ Hannah D

    What a great post! I had a realization recently that letting go of labels was going to serve me well. I’m the only one who knows if I’m a size 8 or 12 or 20. No one else is going to know. I have worked really hard to let go of my own need to be a certain size.

    • http://aMINDmedia.com/ Anne-Sophie

      That’s a huge breakthrough, Hannah. And it’s so true: nobody is going to look inside your jeans to find the tag that size which size you wear. It’s all in our heads. I’m glad you’ve done the hard work and I am sure you feel more freedom than ever before. Thanks for commenting here. Would love to see you on my new site: http://annesophie.us for more inspiration about body-acceptance and self-love. xxx