(How a celebrity body-shaming piece led me to write this article).
In "The Marvelous Transformation: Living Well With Autoimmune Disease," I write about taking back control of our body image even when chronic illness continues to damage it. I ran across one of these body shaming articles this morning, directed at celebrities and the "worst examples" of aging and I got angry.
Don't the people who are writing these articles realize that celebrities are humans with feelings? Don't they understand that celebrities have bodies that are going to age and change outside their control? And don't they know that when celebrities work in an industry with a premium on looks, they might lose their minds trying to save their bodies' prior appearances? I think that is where some of the obsession with plastic surgery might come from. Not a desire to look different from what they are, but a desire to preserve what they previously had. What a terrible, and out-of-control feeling, they must be experiencing; and worse, how demoralizing and devastating it must be to hear they have made it onto a "25 worst aging celebrity list." I think this is the worst kind of Internet-filling fluff, aimed only at ridiculing others and causing laughter at anothers' expense; I don't believe it should have a place in our society.
I can identify with some of their pain today. Two years ago, I shed 30 pounds of medication weight. I felt great. For the first time of my adult life I was thin and enjoyed a year of not worrying about what I looked like. Clothes fit nicely, I could move freely, and I felt good!
Then a year ago I had to restart medication. Over the past year I gained all 30 pounds back, plus another 10. I'm still eating my same healthy diet, this is true medication weight, but I know that doesn't matter to the outside world. I don't wear a sign that says, "this is medication weight," although sometimes I wish I could. None of my clothes fit, so I just had to replenish my whole wardrobe, (even my previous "bloated days" clothes don't fit) which was financially stressful. All of this while trying to remember, "Ohhhm. Body image is a state-of-mind (but my underwear are crawling up, and my tummy is folding over the top of my yoga pants, and my bra is too tight, and...and...and...)" the truth is, in order for the state-of-mind to work, you have to have a relatively comfortable state-of-body, i.e.. some creature comforts. You might want to be in clothes that aren't three sizes too small so you can take the deep breaths.
Once you are in comfortable clothes, you can begin the process of accepting your body all over again. My nephew recently put it back into perspective for me, "You may have been 'skinny,' but you were frail. You were falling all the time, you bruised easily, we were scared you were going to break. We would all rather you are, what people call 'fat,' if it means you are strong, healthy, and alive."
Again, I had seen things so skewed, through the eyes of self-delusion. I saw a skinny body and thought it looked healthy; my family saw a body that they had to worry about more because it was less solid, less stable.
...so I remind myself that I am a three part being - body, mind, and soul. Although I want my body to reflect outside who my mind and soul are inside, I have to recognize that the body is just a vehicle to carry those parts safely.
My meditation for today:
I breathe in the healing love and light of the universe, remembering that I am not defined by my clothing size; I breathe out any negative feelings attached to size and weight. I breathe in health; I breathe out dis-ease. I breathe in positive energy and healing light, allowing it to infiltrate my cells and fill me up with light; I breathe out all negativity, sadness, and feelings of loss of control, realizing that I am who I am meant to be, where I am meant to be, and how I am meant to be, exactly as meant to be right now. I breathe in the acceptance and love of all ages and all incarnations of the universe; I breathe out love and acceptance to all people on this planet (because everyone could use a mental hug, right!?). I breathe in the wonder and power that all things are possible; I breathe out self-doubt, worry, and self-recrimination. I breathe in abundance and gratitude; I breathe out scarcity and fear.
Emily A. Filmore is the author of the With My Child series of children's books about family bonding. Withmychildseries.com. She is the co-author of Conversations with God for Parents with Neale Donald Walsch and Laurie Lankins Farley. (Rainbow Ridge, 2015). And the author of The Marvelous Transformation: Living Well with Autoimmune Disease about her experiences with chronic illness. (Central Recovery Press 2015).