“Enjoy those cute, little chubby thighs while you can Marina,” I looked up to see my co-worker taking a pinch of a one-year-old baby’s thigh between her thumb and forefinger while patting her own thigh with the other hand, “Those thighs are cute now. But, when you’re my age, not so much.” My co-worker then turned to me with a laugh and a look of approval seeking. She did not get my approval.
After I contained my immediate reaction of wanting to scream at this woman for what she said to this baby and wanting to protect the child from ever hearing a nonsensical comment like that ever again, I began to think about the rational behind why I had such a strong emotional reaction to the situation. I kept circling back to the same series of questions: Why is Marina not allowed to enjoy her thighs beyond her first year of life? Why don’t women my co-worker’s age enjoy or accept their own thighs? Would Marina be able to enjoy her body despite living in a society of self-deprecation? Is there a time frame to loving your body—does that have an expiration date?
We live in a culture where children, especially females, are indoctrinated from the minute they are born with the idea that they will never be good enough the way they are…they must lose weight (thin is never thin enough, until it becomes too thin and then she is ostracized), dress in all the latest fashions, be intelligent (but not too intelligent so as to make those around you feel ignorant), have the chicest hairstyle, constantly be in a relationship (but not with many different men over the course of time or then she will be considered a “whore”), have a lot of money (but not too much, because then she will look arrogant)…and so much more I cannot even list them all. But why? Why are we constantly inundated with the “never good enough” message? And, more importantly, why do we listen?
It is easy for me to say, “Oh, you are good enough the way you are. You do not need to change a thing. Everyone around you is so insecure with their own lives that they get a thrill out of putting you down. These simple-minded people think that through revealing your weaknesses they will be made to feel better. You must have confidence in yourself and in your strengths to not let this affect you. You are enough—don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise” Simple, see? That was very easy for me to say. And I 100% believe what I just said to be true. HOWEVER, despite the fact that I know the above statements to be true, I have still fallen prey to the shaming “never good enough” message monsoon. I have felt the shame of not being thin enough, well dressed enough, smart enough but also too smart, having “bad” hair, never having had a boyfriend, not having enough money, etc…and I allowed that shame to negatively influence my life through a sub-zero level of self-esteem, an over 15 year battle with eating disorders, self-harm, a shield of sarcasm to defend myself from “never good enough”, depression at not achieving “good enough”, and anxiety from constantly striving (and failing) to gain “good enough”. It is at the juxtaposition of what I know to be true and how I live my life at which I currently find myself. But, it is at that paradox where recovery begins.
Recovery and self-acceptance begin the moment we realize that how we are currently living our lives may be contradictory to what we believe to be true—at least, I know this to be true about myself. By reframing my “I’m not good enough” thoughts to fit what I know to be true about myself, I am better able to tune out the negative voices in my head. Thought reframing is, by no means, easy to do. However, it is a necessary step towards living a life that is more congruent with our values and belief systems about ourselves and others. In a world in which not only society, but my own eating disorder, constantly gives me the message that I am not enough, I gain strength in reframing each of those thoughts/statements to promote my recovery. By practicing thought reframing over and over and over again, these negative messages will have less of an effect on me, as I now realize in what areas we excel and will no longer be ashamed areas in which I do not meet society’s unrealistic expectations. I will never be the societal ideal: tall, thin, blond, white and blue eyed. I am not my appearance, my socio-economic status, my clothing, my hairstyle, my relationship status, or any other “not good enough” measurement set forth by our appearance-based society. I am so much more. YOU are more. Together, we will show the world that, not only that we are good enough, but that we are MORE.
I know I have put up this video before, but I really love the message and felt it deserved to to posted again.
Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load. Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor. Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
(bold italics are mine, not in the actual scripture)