I had a recent discussion with my therapist about the idea of permission. During this discussion there were a few things I found myself separating; giving yourself permission and giving yourself permission without guilt. I think these are two incredibly different things however one potentially could lead to the other if practiced enough.
My spouse and I are selling our home, so on Saturday and Sunday we literally spent probably 19 hours total rearranging, boxing things, deep cleaning and repainting most of our home in preparation to sell it [on a side note someone pointed out to me how funny it is that we change and clean for others to buy it but never for ourselves]. My apple watch even told me that I had walked 17 miles between the two days just in my house which was wild [yes that is what I focused on]. Prior to this large endeavor my therapist asked me to set goals for myself in addressing over control, eating disorders and my OCD. I mentioned once a week maybe neglecting the calorie counter – and also taking a day off working out. I did and I do however, still do it in my head, and if I don’t work out I honestly think of ways I can substitute that lack of movement that isn’t being created in a work out [which that has been presented to me as ‘healthy’ and I still kind of think still taking a walk or something outside for enjoyment is a positive thing].
Through her I did learn that OCD creates this hyper awareness to our own bodies, which is why some people do get fixated on eating, how they feel, and how they hate specific aspects of their bodies due to those feelings. Through this year I can feel where I have gained weight on my hips, stomach and back. I can feel the bloating happening when I eat. I hate it. So a big long term goal of mine is to attempt to reduce that hyper awareness as well as the fixation of food I place into my body.
She told me to give myself permission to eat as I feel hungry. Give myself permission to grab some food without reading the nutrition label. Give myself permission to not work out for a day. I technically can do all of these things, but it’s the guilt that fucking wrecks me. I have chosen some days to move my work out to another day, but its the following guilt that drives me all day, reduces my joy during the day, tells me I am going to get fat all day, and restricts me from eating good food – for the entire day. The guilt is what drives people to not enjoy the ‘giving permission’ part. And I think in time and with practice I could learn to give permission to myself to be a normal human who is excited to eat normal foods and acquire less guilt, but I’m never sure it will be gone completely.
The one permission I did grant myself this month was the permission to say no to working. I have had several people reach out for boudoir photography, christmas cards, family shoots, and I only took a handful. Between listing our home, finishing up the semester with my college students, building two courses for next semester and finalizing weddings from the late fall – I felt that was enough. Not only that but I am burnt out mentally… on every level. It’s super important to me that my clients get the best of me – and if I expand my work throughout the time I need a reboot, they will not get that. So I have one shoot for the month of December – and I am so incredibly grateful to myself that I did that.
Along with permission is body positivity and acceptance. This may get controversial but it needs to be said. I had a discussion with a recent good friend of mine about the struggle and disheartening content that has been put out by a close friend of hers. Someone who presents body positivity but in a way that is not inclusive at all. In my opinion this harms the movement. I love people like Mik Zazon because she mentions all body types feeling comfortable in their skin but also validates all sizes and their insecurities. FOR SURE there is more fat shaming in society among the public and misogynistic men and women who criticize fat bodies more than thin bodies. FOR SURE it’s easier to blend in being very thin or average sized compared to being bigger. Yes. All of that. But that does not change the struggles people face internally. For example, my husband can tell me I am beautiful. People on the internet can compliment me. Things that used to fill my cup for attention online with my appearance I could give two shits about now. I post shit but am not looking for compliments. If I post my hair its because I think my stylist did incredible and I want people to hire her, but do I like ME? No. No words, no compliment, nothing from anyone can fill a self love cup for me. Not even temporary. It’s the reason my sex life lacks. It’s the reason my love for me lacks. Because it all stems from me – and me thinking I am not attractive in any sense, shape or form.
My friend got really upset with this situation and content because her friend basically told her that since she [my friend] wasn’t fat she couldn’t complain about her body. This is not true. Again, all sizes striving for self love and less ridicule is the goal, so to basically make other bodies as the enemy ain’t it. What we are really up against is society and media created standards of preferred bodies. Be it: abled bodies, thin bodies, a body of a specific race, a body with a specific feature. It happens in all cultures and is extremely harmful to the Other bodies that exist.
However eating disorders do not discriminate. You can be super thin, average, larger, ‘obese’ and still have an eating disorder. You can starve and not show it because you’ve been calorie deficient for so long [me], you can binge and be a twig because of your metabolism, you can do things like fast, intermittent fast, cut calories, throw up constantly and still gain weight with no resolution on how to ‘lose weight.’ You can do all of these things and still have an eating disorder. So to tell people who clearly are trying to seek help, who are actively trying to escape the self hate that they are not valid because they aren’t over a size 14? That’s just not fair, nor is it true.
This way of thinking; the this or that mentality, honestly drives me nuts. It drives me nuts politically, social justice based, and in this area of weight and self love too. Because life isn’t black and white. It’s not this or that. You CAN promote healthy eating while understanding there are times that you should enjoy processed foods just because you want to. Honestly, I do think it’s important to treat your body with respect, move, eat healthy, and to stay away from bulks of processed foods – not to lose weight or to get to a certain size but because it isn’t healthy to scarf a full cake a day everyday and sit on the couch with zero movement. Just as restriction is frown upon in levels that can hurt is, so is over indulging.
So the point of this – give yourself permission to accept yourself but know that it doesn’t come without guilt for the first little bit. Give yourself permission to eat what you want but do it in steps that make you feel comfortable. Give yourself permission to take those steps to loving who you are while understanding those same steps won’t work for everyone.