I was walking around my town last night when I overheard another conversation held by three adult women. I was actually on my way to meet a friend for ice cream – a very big step for me. Anyway, their topic was one not unlike others I had heard so many times before, however that night it struck me. They were discussing another woman’s weight, glamorizing her skinny figure and seemingly revering her for the fact that she “just didn’t eat.”
Maybe it was because that was my first day out of residential treatment or because I was feeling particularly sentimental on that night but their conversation got me to thinking. What would our world be like if we stopped discussing bodies and started admiring intelligence, personality and achievement? What would happen if we started trading tips on how to be kinder rather than how to lose weight?
Maybe their conversation would have gone something like: “Have you noticed her compassion and willingness to help others?” rather than “Have you noticed how skinny she is, I wonder how much she eats?” When did a person’s worth start becoming dependent on their food intake and their body’s physique? When did we start placing so much importance on a thigh gap or a flat stomach?
Because this unknown woman is so much more than her body. And in fact, she could very well be struggling but instead of noticing we praise. Not eating and excessive exercise now yields admiration rather than concern. When did this attitude become so entrenched in the fabric of our lives?
While before, the conversation might have compelled me to turn around and walk away from the ice cream store, this time it only propelled me forward. It also gave me a sense of urgency, I need to write about this, I thought to myself. How can we change the mindset of our society today? If we don’t stop emphasizing bodies and comparing sizes our world will forever be plagued with disordered eating and excessive exercisers. It made me realize, I don’t want to live a life anymore where I “just don’t eat.” I want to live a life of balance, of enjoying myself when I want to and doing the things I love.