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Archive for July 31, 2014

Beauty is Sizeless

This week’s Love Your Body was submitted by Inver Hills student Tina H. Thank you, Tina!

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My niece, four at the time, was sitting excitingly on the couch in her swim suit waiting for me to come out of the bathroom with mine on. She froze when she say me still with my clothes on and disappointingly asked, “Where is your swim suit?”

I replied with, “Under my clothes,” and being the curious four year old she is, she then asked “Why?”

For a moment I thought about what I was going to say and about what she would have to say back.

“I have my swim suit on under my clothes because I am fat.”

She didn’t even hesitate to think, look, or reevaluate. I realized it when she said, “No you’re not”.

I realized the damage was done. I couldn’t take it back. The feeling of regret made me feel sick and horrible. What made me feel the worst was when I thought about how she knew me ever since she was born and how I had always disliked my body- but did that matter to her? No. She loves me for me and her love is never going to go down even if my weight goes up. I am and always will be her ‘auntie’ who she loves inside and out. While I should have been teaching her about self-confidence and respect towards yourself, I was putting the idea of disliking your own body and not being happy with who you are in her head and making her think that fat was a bad thing.

If I could go back to that day I would come out of that bathroom in my swim suit and love myself for who I am which is what I want to teach her to do. I love her for her, she loves me for me, and someone loves you for who you are, inside and out.

 

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Giving Up The Ghost: Focusing on my body as a warrior and not a thief

Cancer, hair loss, and letting it all go…


Today’s blog post is the first in a monthly series from guest blogger Kate-Madonna Hindes. Hindes is an industry leader and nationally recognized analyst and keynote speaker on emotional integrity and authenticity in today’s online media. With 15+ years of combined experience in digital technology, trade publications and national government, Hindes is a regular contributor to news media and industry magazines. Notably, she sits on the coaching panel for Keith Ferrazzi’s Relationship Academy. Hindes is the founder of beenthererockedthat.org, an HPV education network. We are so grateful to have her contributing to our blog! Welcome!

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Accepting myself- truly accepting, didn’t happen until I neared my mid-thirties. It didn’t happen because I threw in the proverbial towel and accepted my fate as undesirable or less worthy. Acceptance happened because at my weakest, I found incredible strength.

If you ask my 8 year old girl, what her favorite activities are, Minecraft videos and watching her mother get ready would probably tie. She watches with curious eyes when I put on make-up or pick what to wear. She’s taking clues from her mother’s tone and spirit. My daughter is cataloging them away for when she needs to understand how the female world works. This world is brutal with judgement.  But in our house, we joke and acknowledge that bodies are fascinating, miraculous, vessels. There’s no room for self-hate with what we’ve been through.

My sweet girl is asking me questions I don’t have the answers to just yet. We try to look at everything scientifically. For my A-type child, she understands that bodies are different because we carry a great treasure within: our genetic code. We’ve studied the human body in books and TED talks. My daughter wants to be a scientist/supermodel/veterinarian when she grows up. I just want her to follow whatever path settles her soul to happiness.

There’s not a beauty magazine in our home and there hasn’t been since my mid-twenties. If I allowed myself to feel pressured because I wasn’t living up to a computerized standard, it would have taken away the mental energy I needed to fight cancer- or be a mom, business owner, and significant other.

I only have so much capacity for negative energy, I don’t need to exacerbate my own demons by finding other silly trends to aspire to. My daughter is 8 and doesn’t yet understand the idea that she’s too fat, or too short, or too muscular or too skinny or too anything- that will happen soon enough. She’s never heard her mother stand in front of a mirror and say, “I can’t believe this is my body now.” She’s heard me focus on how my strong body is a warrior. I once believed it was a thief, robbing me of youth, beauty and everything that everyone else seemed to value. 

I’ve not known how to accept my genes until lately. 3 recurrences with cervical cancer and a radical hysterectomy have left this former captain of cheerleading with scarring, hair loss and a stomach that has a mind of its own.  The bareness on the front of my head is a reminder that I carry the alopecia gene. I started losing my hair at 27. In the final stage, I have a brilliant comb-over worthy of the stares I’ve been getting. But, for me, I’m just not ready to let go. My stomach remains dotted with lumps and scars- but beautiful scars. 6 small lines remind me of the final chapter of what I’ve fought and what I gave away.

I’ve lost the part of the feminine mystery I was told was sacred and mine. For a while, I was unforgiving to myself, but never in front of my daughter. I cried at the hairdresser when they tried to use chalk to cover my bald spots and they looked worse. I bawled in my closet when I looked 3 months pregnant, but could never carry another child. I let it all go in a Victoria’s Secret store when I tried on lingerie for the first time after surgery and thought I looked like a female Frankenstein. The sales woman knocked gingerly on the door as I sat on the tufted stool and called a friend. “I guess you’re not supposed to feel pretty after the real world happens,” I told her. Everything on the wall told me I was sexy- I felt anything but. Not long ago, I found out I carried BCRA-2. In due time, I’ll be explaining to my 8 year old that we can be cut to pieces, but remain perfectly intact. Frankly, if this is a test to see how many organs or body parts I can lose and function better than before, I know I’ll win. While I’ll have lost the organs and body elements that most make me a “woman”, I’ll look back and know that I traded it all for more time. I need that time to show my daughter what strength and self-acceptance truly mean. My body has turned into currency and I am buying extra time.

I find my center by telling myself that blood, organ and bone is nothing compared to what I can do with my mind and the power of my voice. How dare this world judge me by how little space my body takes up, or the length of my hair and the circumference of my wrists. I want to be judged by the thumbs-up I gave my doctors going into the hysterectomy and the strength I found in helping other survivors share their story afterwards.

My daughter wanted to see my scars after surgery. Once they were healed, she looked at me and said, “Mom, you rocked it.” And I did. She didn’t mention the fat on my stomach or the tears in my eyes. My girl understood something deeper and greater: Fat is not a fault and skinny is not a strength.

I tell her often: Enjoy your body. Every dimple, every curve and every beautiful centimeter of skin that covers each part of who you are. Use all of it in wonderful ways- discover new skills and Ava, for goodness’ sake, stand there and be proud. You’re of my blood and I am of yours- simply put, we are warriors.

Lobby Day Scholarships Available!

If you haven’t yet, mark your calendars for the Eating Disorder Coalition‘s (EDC) biannual Lobby Day, coming up on October 1, 2014! A Foundation representative will be attending and we expect to have a good turn out of volunteers and other supporters. As in the past, we will be providing four $300 scholarships to help folks attend. The application can be downloaded here: LOBBY DAY APPLICATION

Please return completed applications to Julia Birdsall at julia.birdsall@emilyprogramfoundation.org no later than August 18, 2014. Thank you!!

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Here’s some more information about the event- This year the EDC- along with Mothers Against Eating Disorders and the Alliance for Eating Disorder Awareness- are also putting on the inaugural MOM March on September 30, 2014. The MOM March is a gathering of parents, other loved ones, those struggling with an eating disorder themselves, advocates, and any other supporters who want to gather to raise awareness and fight stigma of eating disorders. You can register for one or both events here: http://www.marchagainsted.com/2.html
We urge anyone who is an advocate for eating disorders to attend! You do not need to have prior experience lobbying. The EDC provides training and you will be in a group- never meeting representatives alone. Check out other links on the MOM March site for more information about the timeline of events, how to prepare, etc. Hope to see you there!

Love Your Body- Don’t Let Them Change You

This week’s contribution came to us anonymously from an Inver Hills student

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Middle school, like with most kids, was not that enjoyable for me. I was teased because of the size of my body. There were a few people that would constantly bully me.

The most typical place that I would be teased was during gym class. I was teased either in the locker room, or when I was unable to perform the same tasks as the other kids. My endurance was lower than theirs.

Whenever this happened, it made me angry that people couldn’t keep their thoughts to themselves and they felt they had to share them with others. They probably weren’t perfect in every way either, so why should they feel they had the right to criticize anyone? They didn’t; they shouldn’t.

Not everyone is perfect at everything they do, and everyone has some areas where they excel and others where they are not as good. I may not have exceled in gym class, but what did I care. I had something else that I loved about myself: my mind.

I knew these kids; I had other classes with them. I knew that they were not the best at certain things, as I was not the best in gym. They were able to outperform me in gym, but I could run laps around them in math and science.

Although it was difficult to have been bullied, it helped make me a better, smarter person. Being bullied taught me that I did not need to listen to others but that I did needed to listen to myself. I was good at different things- everyone has their own specialties. I took that negativity and learned from it, learned to love other things about myself.

Once I was able to look at the things I love about me, it allowed me to see my body in a different way. I no longer cared how people viewed my body because I was ok with it, and I came to like who I was. I no longer felt the pressure from others to change. There was no need to change. I like how I am and that’s all that matters.

Since then, I have not let others’ comments affect me. I have learned to shrug them off. I hope that my story can inspire others who have been bullied to accept yourself for who you are and learn to love yourself.

 

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“Fear No Mirror”

Submitted by Halie Langanki

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Upon walking into the fitness club I attend, I was faced with a poster with the image of a trim woman looking into a room full of mirrors with the words “Fear No Mirror” jumping out in large font. The ad was for Coolsculpting, a new fat reduction procedure. Complete with before and after pictures, this ad seemed to promise me that this procedure would give me a tighter, more slender body and, therefore, improved self-esteem (“Fear No Mirror”).

This poster was not only clear to me as I walked in for my workout, but it was also there for the numerous children, teenagers, and adults that walk in. Later on I discovered that this new “Fear No Mirror” campaign is not only present at this fitness club but has made its mark through media 3.4 billion times since its launch (Jafarzadeh).

But as broadly-marketed as this idea is, would this procedure actually enable a person to truly “Fear No Mirror”? Sure I could get this procedure if I am self conscious about say, my stomach area, but then what? What if I still “fear the mirror”? Then I’ll get it on my thighs. Nope, still fear the mirror. Then I’ll just get a little bit off this part of my arm… But what if I’m still self conscious? Unfortunately, it would be pretty easy for me to find parts of my appearance that I am unsatisfied with. But do I really have to keep chiseling away at my outer self in order to make my inner self finally whole?

This procedure doesn’t seem like self worth booster to me, but just a step on the endless Ferris wheel of feelings of inadequacy and self-contempt.  Who are they to tell me that they way to self-appreciation comes through the refashioning my waistline? No matter what body shape, size, color, gender one is, the secret to no longer fearing the mirror doesn’t depend on appearance but on an inner, personal decision that one makes to makes to decide that she is enough.

The funny thing about the mirror is, it really just shows a sliver of us. The mirror doesn’t know your hopes, whom you love and who you are loved by, that you can play a wicked game of croquet, or that you just earned a new promotion. It doesn’t show the beautiful child that was birthed through those stretch marks, the years of love and laughter behind those laugh lines around your face, the countless swimming practices that sculpted your broad shoulders.

So, mirror, I’m making a conscious decision to not fear your reflection of me. Being okay with what I see in the mirror is not easy, and I’m still working at it. I have as many self-esteem hang ups as the next girl. But I can say that I don’t fear you, mirror, because you’re just a part of my picture.

 

Source:

“Fear No Mirror.” Freeze Away Stubborn Fat With the CoolSculpting® Procedure. ZELTIQ Aesthetics, 2014

Jafarzadeh, Mathew. “Welcome to Zeltiq CoolSculpting Fat Reduction and Fear No Mirror!” YouTube, 7 May 2014

 

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