Many moons ago, I blogged author/pastor Steven Furtick’s perception vs reality quote about insecurity:
One reason we struggle w/ insecurity: we’re comparing our behind the scenes to everyone else’s highlight reel.
I was reminded of this when I came across this pic/post by Michelle Yeager on my Facebook feed recently:
Yeager’s “behind the scenes” might surprise you:
I feel like if everyone, myself included back when I was this lean, actually shared how we are really feeling deep down instead of just positing [sic] a picture of a body and saying “eat clean, train hard” or something along those lines, people would be a lot better off. … But no one wants to talk about how miserable they might be feeling. I know for me I was trying to put on a happy positive face, but on the inside I was a mess. I had sooo much anxiety around food. Everything I put into my body had to be perfectly measured to the gram and calculated for the day. I couldn’t focus on much other than the next time I got to eat, my workout for the day, and taking selfies.
This same theme is echoed by model Cameron Russell, answering the question “what’s it like to be a model?” in a TED talk from last year:
I’m insecure. And I’m insecure because I have to think about what I look like every day. If you ever are wondering, you know, if I have thinner thighs and shinier hair will I be happier? You just need to meet a group of models because they have the thinnest thighs and the shiniest hair and the coolest clothes and they are the most physically insecure women probably on the planet. [7:40]
The personal is political?
On my to-do list are reviews for two relatively well-received diet-related books by folks I greatly respect, Chris Kresser’s Your Personal Paleo Code and Yoni Freedhoff’s The Diet Fix. But I’ve been resisting. It’s not that I don’t think their approaches are fundamentally sound from a health perspective. But although I’ve spent a lot of time here looking at nutrition (especially from an ancestral health perspective), I’m not sure that a fundamentally sound diet approach is what’s needed. I think there’s something far bigger at work.
It involves insecurity, stigma, and body image. While it’s described by individuals — like Yeager and Russell and like Jen Larsen (whose unhappiness after her post-WLS weight loss of 180 lbs left her “blinded by the egregious lack of a happily ever after”) — it’s not just personal. It’s cultural and societal.
I thought that it might get better after menopause (when women begin to approach their “I shall wear purple” age), but a study late last year reported that just 1 in 10 of the women over 50 surveyed were satisfied with their size. And even those who were satisfied:
appear to exert considerable effort to achieve and maintain this satisfaction, and they are not impervious to experiencing dissatisfaction with other aspects of their appearance, particularly those aspects affected by aging.
I’m not yet prepared to completely jump ship for the HAES or fat acceptance camps. But I’ve lately been thinking that the way out is probably not in another diet-related book. I think it’s going to be found in connection and community … and maybe even an “act of revolution.”
It’d be great if we were all healthy and happy with ourselves. But maybe the first step isn’t a better mousetrap (read: diet or exercise program). Maybe the first step is to stop letting what fitness coach Scott Abel calls the “modern beauty doctrine” be the judge and juror of our worth.
Fat is a feminist issue, indeed!