My Body, Myself 

radical self-care

I’d like to re-set our eating intentions to a different time when women didn’t have eating and body image problems like today. I want to take you back 100 years to our grandmother’s younger days. Let’s consider your young grandmother’s relationship to food and her body and what it could teach us. Let’s make eating just eating again. I’d like to ratchet down the emotional investment and the stakes for each piece of food we put in our mouths. No obsession. No emotional attachment to a number on the scale. Let’s think about eating for nourishment and for pleasure like people did forever before our day and age.

I spent the last two weeks in Paris eating French food, drinking French wine, and talking about life with French women. It just doesn’t get much better than that for me! With all the discussion about body image and diet culture in the United States, I was fascinated to learn that the average French woman doesn’t have the same issues around her body image and eating that the average American woman has. While French society does put pressure on women to be thin, your average (not eating disordered) French woman does not hate her body, does not diet, and is not struggling with the same obsession and anxiety around food that most American women experience. 

As my French cousin Martine explained, “We enjoy good food every day, and we move on to other pleasures in our lives; we are not obsessed with eating.” I wanted to figure out what was going on in the minds of French women that could account for the way that many of them successfully navigate their body image and eating. We clearly could use some French Eating Lessons on this side of the Atlantic.

We all know physical appearance is just a part of who you are.  Clearly too much emphasis has been placed on appearance in today’s world. So, if appearance says little about your value as a person, what does say something about your character and value as a person to you?  How do you define yourself?  Is it in terms of being a loving mom?  A kind friend?  A competent athlete? Capable at your job? It is probably a combination of some of these things that make up how you define your whole person, your character and value.  

Many women spend the healthy years we have being alive distracted from living because we feel shame about our bodies. Many women engage in a tremendous amount of self-judgment and self-punishment around food and weight. Even Oprah, one of the most successful women on the planet, probably goes to bed feeling guilty because of what she ate that day. Time spent being disappointed in yourself can be a remarkable time-sink in a person’s life.  Research shows that the average women spends 31 years of her life dieting. How much time have you spent in past decades telling yourself that your body was flawed? Look at pictures of yourself from those olden days; do you now realize how wonderful you actually looked? From an objective vantage point, you can appreciate the smile on your younger face and look in your younger eyes, and not hone in on just how thin (or not) your legs looked.