Dear Therapists and Educators:
Looking to do something out-of-the-ordinary in 2012? Something to reach and help more people than just those you counsel regularly?
Here’s something you can do for your community in 2012 that is important, impactful, and easy to execute.
Facilitate a body image / compulsive eating workshop group using the brilliant Leftovers program.
1. Find yourself a space, a television, and a DVD player.
3. Spread the word.
4. Know you’re doing some of the most important, healthful, life-giving, therapeutic de-programming of your career.
De-programming? That sounds a tad dramatic. Like we’re talking about cult members, here. Brainwashing and such.
Sadly, we are — a form of brainwashing so common that most people are still blind to it. Even smart, otherwise worldly people.
Women and girls in American society have come to accept certain universal “truths” (lies) about being female that lead to profound unhappiness, unhealthy behaviors, and even death.
These “truths” are delivered in ways both overt and covert, through entertainment media and even from the mouths of so-called medical experts.
I’m talking about messages related to our bodies and food that hypnotize us into seeing our bodies not as they truly are.
We scrutinize our bodies, focusing on supposed “imperfections” we’re convinced require the lion’s share of our efforts and attention.
We’re led to believe our value as females is almost exclusively dependent on the appearance, size, texture, and proportions of our physical bodies. We’re led to believe that unless we’re willing to whittle ourselves into a pretty ornament — a pretty ornament of a narrow, carefully-dictated type — we might as well be ogres.
We’re told that unless we maintain a constant state of dissatisfaction with our bodies, and unless we’re perpetually working towards a certain body type, we are unhealthy gluttons. We’re told there’s nothing more virtuous, more holy, more correct than the pursuit of getting thinner.
We’re led to conveniently forget that this pursuit of thinness is about our health — temporarily — as we’re sold chemical-laden, salt-laden and sugar-laden “diet foods”. We’re convinced that consuming these foods makes us angels. Good girls. “I was good today.” We cram our bodies with toxic sludge so we’ll hopefully appear thinner, and argue to the world that we’re doing it for the right reasons. Because fat is “unhealthy”.
We see ourselves as fat when we’re not.
We see fat people and attribute to them all the evils of the world.
We hack off huge slices of our paychecks and turn them over to heartless, greedy corporate geniuses who tell us that without their products, we are nothing. We are worthless. We are lazy. We are failures. We are antisocial. We’re pigs. We’re crazy. We’re unfeminine. We’re ugly.
We listen to hired guns in white coats tell us that the fat cascading over ill-fitting jeans should be called a “muffin-top” and that it’s ugly and that we should risk our lives getting it surgically sliced off our bodies. Some of us will listen, do it, and never wake up.
Some of us will do it, wake up, and find that our lives are not magically improved.
Some of us will do it, wake up, find that we get much more attention from men and more kindness from saleswomen. And one day we’ll realize it isn’t enough. One day we’ll remember what we wanted to be someday, before the world told us our dream should be to be thin.
We get so confused by the tug-of-war over our attention and our pocketbooks — eat, don’t eat! Food good, food bad! It’s OK to love delicious food — just don’t eat more than a mouthful because the worst thing to be is FAT!
So what happens?
Eating disorders happen.
Sometimes they kill us. They kill us very young. They give us heart attacks. Ruptured stomachs. Kidney failure. Suicide.
Sometimes they erode our esophagi. Sometimes they give us seizures. They can make us infertile.
Sometimes they just keep us from being relaxed, at peace, happy — because we’re always thinking about what we’re going to eat or not eat.
Sometimes we’re so distracted by food and our bodies that we never give ourselves a chance to discover what we love about life. What we’re good at. What would make us deeply satisfied.
There is an overwhelming collective power out there with vast resources to trick us. And it does trick us, on a massive scale. It doesn’t want us to know that health and happiness are out there, that they’re closer than we think, and that they’re free. Because if we fully understood it, we would stop spending billions of dollars on all the products that will cure our “unacceptability”, that will prevent us from a fate worse than death:
I’m proud to say I’m not that kind of woman anymore.
I’d like to see more women and girls get better. In every sense of the word.
The Leftovers program can help. I recommend it highly.
Please. Take a look at the Leftovers web site and see how this unique, well-thought-out, beautifully executed program, in the form of a DVD/workbook set, can help you introduce members of your community to a whole new way of living life based on authentic health and the crucial self-esteem of which Americans have been systematically robbed.
If what I’m saying sounds “melodramatic” to you, you might be more brainwashed than you realize.
Leftovers can help you, too. Please give it a chance to broaden your view of yourself and the world, and open up a deeply gratifying new existence for you.
Please consider bringing healthy body image to your corner of the world through Leftovers.
Author of Read My Hips