Follow up: I shouldn’t want to be smaller and neither should you

Very few of you comment directly on this blog. You will, however, contact me privately with your thoughts. I find this completely understandable; I rarely comment on blogs, either. I tend to doubt whether anything I might add to a conversation will have any value, and then decide it likely won’t and return to watching TV.

From here on out, I’m going to add a paragraph to the bottom of all posts reminding you it is delightful if you choose to contact me privately with your thoughts rather than air them for the world to see. The option is there and you are welcome to take advantage of it.

I get it. Not everyone chooses to live their life out in the open as I do.

However, while I process things externally and do tend to figure myself out once I put things into words (Being an external processor), sometimes things move a lot faster when I receive feedback about my musings. It’s often hard for me to figure out what is going on in my brain. Anything that might help speed things along is terrific.

For example, I received the following in response to a post I published the other day (I shouldn’t want to be a smaller size and neither should you). I am pasting it here with the permission of the sender.

I think they described the conflict I’m experiencing right now about my desire to lose weight far better than I have. I have added a bold font type to a few of the passages I appreciated the most.

First, sorry if I am rambling. Your post really stirred something in me.

I would guess that, like many of us, you were socialized to accept the idea that female beauty looks a very specific way. It is impossible (IMHO) to rationalize irrational things like feelings, impressions, and opinions. More often then not, those ideas are not rooted in reason or logic, they are rooted in culture, social mores and what we are taught about how we should feel about those things.

Logically, you know and understand that how a person looks is separate from what kind of a person they are, but that knowledge does not change how you were taught to FEEL about accepted female beauty standards, and where you might fall within those standards.

I totally understand this, I remember struggling with it a lot in my mid-30’s after I divorced.

At some point, I realized that the anger I was feeling at myself was misplaced…why am I angry at myself for feeling the way I was taught to feel?

My anger was self-destructive and was feeding my unhealthy patterns.

I still struggle with this anger, but I am trying to get better at identifying the appropriate target. Like, a patriarchal society that has dangerous and unrealistic expectations of female appearance, or, an employer who has unrealistic expectations and does not provide adequate resources for the level of work they expect. I am finding it easier to be mad at the system so that I can love and accept myself for doing my best to live and thrive in a dysfunctional system/world.

On the one hand, you logically understand that you are changing your eating and exercise habits to feel better. Logically you also know that those changes will likely result in weight loss and change to your body composition and your physical appearance. I would encourage you to give yourself permission to accept your feelings for what they are.

You are not a bad person because you feel pleasure that your efforts have given you MORE than what you expect to (feeling good AND looking “better”). I personally believe that one cannot really change one’s feelings, BUT one can change 1) How they respond to their feelings 2) How they reframe and understand their feelings within the larger context of their world experience.

Once I became better at accepting my feelings as part of me, I was better able to manage the conflicts of emotion.

I very much identify with your struggles. I wish I could give you more encouragement. I admire the journey you are on and your courage in sharing that journey.


Thank you, letter writer. Your words moved me greatly and have helped me achieve a world of clarity I was previously lacking.

One comment

  1. I agree. Feelings are going to come up whether we want them to or not, and there can be a lot to gain by letting them be and exploring where they’re coming from rather than trying to avoid them and push them away.

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