In the last week, there is a blog post that’s been posted again and again in every possible way on the Internet. I believe viral is the correct term. It’s a beautiful post that needs to be read by every woman who ever had a daughter or was a daughter. It needs to be read by every man who ever loved a woman, or ever hopes to.
Sarah Koppelkam wrote a blog post called “How to talk to your daughter about her body”. It is simple and profound. The message: teach your daughter the usefulness and power of her body and the beauty of her soul.
Unfortunately, we cannot give our daughters something we do not possess. Until this message has penetrated into the deepest parts of our own hearts, we cannot teach it to anyone, certainly not the next generation. Yes, we can talk about it, but we cannot instill it. We can discuss it, but we cannot bestow it.
I’ve been just as guilty as the next woman living in our body-centered, sex-obsessed, empty-souled culture. I’ve compared every one of my curves to movie stars, strangers, and friends. Over the years, I’ve tried every diet, plan, book, fad and gym. I’ve started ‘tomorrow’ a thousand times, and I’ve lost and gained just as many pounds.
I’ve tried to control the food, manage the food, hide the food. Trick my body, manipulate my body, and hurt my body. I’ve hated my body, my skin, my hair, my height, my waist, my hips, myself. I’ve had distain for every aspect of this earthen vessel.
Somewhere along the way, I decided that when my body was the perfect shape, size, weight…then I would love it.
There was a time when I would binge until I would black out. That, my friends, is not about food. That was about a shattered heart that needed mending. That was about pain and shame so deep, there was not enough macaroni and cheese or Oreos in the world to patch up what was broken.
The years of abuse stole from me a sense of security and wholeness, and inserted self-hatred and contempt in their place. Food was the one thing I had control over in relation to my body. Food had been my best friend, my confidant, and my protector.
I’m learning now my deepest need to respect, love, honor, and take care of my body. If I do that, what I look like and what size I am is none of my business.
I’ve learned it’s impossible to nurture the contents when I hate the container. My body and I are one. It’s what carries my big heart and curious soul around on this blue planet.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
If we embrace Mr. King’s concept fully, and are able to serve ourselves healing-helpings of compassion, kindness, and love rather than contempt and hatred, everything changes. The ideals and pain that tied us down gently give way to a new freedom.
Of course there are days when the wheels have come off my compassionate inner voice, and I am back thinking my life would be perfect if I were thinner, shorter, had straight hair, and could speak Italian.
As I’m learning to extricate the pervasive diet mentality from my mind, something profound has shifted in my soul. Something so subtle and so deep… my body is beginning to forgive me for all the things I’ve said and done to it that were less than loving.
And when I’m tempted to compare my thighs to that of another woman, or I think that some fad diet is going to be the answer to all my woes, I remember that my value is no long attached to the number on the scale. I remember I no longer have to attach my goodness to carrots and my badness to ice cream.
Please hear me on this one point: we do not have to make our bodies the scapegoats for all of life’s pain, fear, shame and confusion. We can choose to love and listen to our bodies. They have much to say if we approach them with kindness.
Before we can teach younger women to love their bodies, assert and protect their sexuality, or value their power, we must change our own internal dialogue to include compassion, patience, and acceptance. Otherwise, those young ladies we desire to share wisdom with know we are imposters.