Friday, March 14, 2008

Giving up dieting?

We need to give up dieting. We need to stop wanting to be thinner and we need to stop supporting the dieting industry.

It is necessary to realise why you diet and then to find a substitute. Dieting serves a function and this function cannot simply be removed; it needs to be replaced.


  • I am unhealthy

Is your weight damaging your health? If it is then maybe you should try and lose weight. But for the majority of dieters this is not the case.

  • I do not like my body

Most women do not like their bodies. It is very rare that we see ourselves fully naked in a full-length mirror. When we do, we criticise every inch, prod at our flesh with disgust, pull our stomachs in and tighten our bottoms. Or alternatively we dim the lights and walk away.

Diet Start

Overleaf is a questionnaire which highlights how self-critical we are. It deals with every aspect of the body, not just weight, and illustrates that nothing is ever just right. To find out how critical you are, score each bodily part as either too large, too small or just right. There is also another column for you to add in your own criticism such as too hairy, too spotty, too blotchy or whatever you feel is appropriate, since large or small is not always relevant.

Are you critical of yourself? How many aspects did you feel were just right? Do you like your body? Do you feel proud of it?

If so many women dislike so much of their bodies, what is left as the right way for a woman's body to be? To whom are we all comparing ourselves? For our bodies to be wrong, there must be a woman out there who has just the right one!

If we diet because we don't like our bodies then we need to learn to accept our bodies and to appreciate what we have. It is only us who criticises us, no-one else notices that your nose is too large or that your bottom droops, unless of course we point out to everyone that our bodies are a problem. Women dislike their bodies and believe that others dislike them as well. Many of the men whom I interviewed in Chapter 8 reported that, even though they would prefer to weigh less, no-one noticed and this wasn't a problem. But women translate their own feelings of body dissatisfaction into a problem which they feel is equally important to everyone else. Their dislike of their bodies is a central component of their identity, which influences their feelings of self-worth.

So how do we learn to love what we have spent so long hating? One of the best ways to like your body is to look at it. The following exercise is helpful.

Get yourself a good full-length mirror. Make sure that it is accurate and that it does not distort your image. Mirrors which make you look larger than you are can be depressing, unless you tell yourself 'I am actually smaller than that'. Mirrors which make you look smaller than you are can be flattering except that you will probably end up telling yourself 'I may look thin but I know I am actually fatter than this'.

Then set the scene. Have a relaxing bath and pamper yourself with nice soap or a new shampoo. Then go into the room with the mirror. It is best to be on your own to start with although doing it with a friend can make it more fun! Have the lights either dimmed or on full depending on whichever makes you happier; your favourite music can add to the scene along with a glass of wine.

Then look at yourself in the mirror. Examine every inch and get used to looking at the parts usually ignored or hidden. First look at your body objectively; examine it as if it were someone else's. If you don't like your stomach, examine it. Do not criticise, but get used to looking and accepting. Thighs are a common area which are conveniently difficult to see. Turn around and watch them as you move. Ask yourself questions such as 'why do I not like my body?' and detach your emotions from it. Try and see it as it actually is.

Then examine yourself subjectively. Notice which parts of your body you are fond of and which parts you dislike. Do certain parts arouse different emotions? Are you proud of some areas but not of others. Focus first on the 'loved parts' and then on the 'unloved parts'. Notice whether there are any actual differences between the two or whether it is just your perception of them.

... andjoyohoxing