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Roots (And Wings?)

The word “roots” brings so many things to my mind . . .

When I was a kid watching Fraggle Rock, the only way for one of the Fraggles to find his or her (I’m a little foggy on the details) way out of an underground stream is by “Holding the Roots” of the big tree. This principle was later applied to my always-fine hair which tangled beyond measure. If you held the roots while brushing it down lower, it hurt less.

In grade 8 (8th grade, for my American readers), I read Alex Haley’s “Roots” . . . a book which I should probably read again, because I’m sure I missed most of what it was about when I was 13.

My first retail job was at a Canadian clothing store called “Roots” (you might remember them from our Olympic wear in the late 90s/early 00s). I was frequently told by visiting Australians that it was considered a very dirty word over there. Good times.

When I was in treatment in Utah, I took a pretty picture of this tree’s roots during a mindfulness exercise (accessing this picture was a challenge, as my laptop has died. Hence the lack of blogging of late):

Anyhow. Enough digression. Why the roots, you ask? It’s a long-ish explanation. Feel free to grab a snack.

Lately, people have been sending me a lot of links, etc. as inspiration for rantings here. I search out a bunch, too. Looking back over them (well, mentally looking back . . . they’re bookmarked on my dead laptop), and over many things I’ve ranted about, I realize how many of them are body-centric. For example, this article by Ashley Judd. She talks about how the media has reacted to her “puffy face” of late. It’s excellent, and she makes good points. It’s a great lesson for us all about how we look at and judge others.

But the farther I get from food symptoms in my recovery, the more I realize how little eating disorders have to do with the body. Yes, that’s how they manifest, but the root cause is invariably something else. Millions of people diet because they hate their bodies, but not everyone who hates their body develops an eating disorder. Sitting in support groups, weight and food are seldom the topics of conversation. It’s what we focus on, but it’s not what matters.

What matters in the Ashley Judd article is how humans have learned to treat one another. So many try to steal other peoples’ power to build themselves up. By tearing Ashley Judd down, maybe the people writing the articles feel better about how they’ve lived their lives, and maybe how their changing appearance is affecting them. We believe that, in order to win, someone else has to fail.

There’s been a picture floating around on Facebook that I like very much:

 

“An anthropologist studying the habits and customs of an African tribe found
himself surrounded by children most days. So he decided to play a little game with them. He managed to get candy from the nearest town and put it all in a decorated basket. at the foot of a tree.
Then he called the children and suggested they play the game. When the anthropologist said “now”, the children had to run to the tree and the first one to get there could have all the candy to him/herself.

So the children all lined up waiting for the signal. When the anthropologist said “now”, all of the children took each other by the hand ran together towards the tree. They all arrived at the same time divided up the candy, sat down and began to happily munch away.

The anthropologist went over to them and asked why they had all run together when any one of them could have had the candy all to themselves.

The children responded: “Ubuntu. How could any one of us be happy if all the others were sad?”

Ubuntu is a philosophy of African tribes that can be summed up as “I am what I am because of who we all are.”

Bishop Desmond Tutu gave this explanation in 2008 :

“One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.”

 

— with Photo Rights: Susan Fassburg of ConnectingDotz.com.

The root of the problem of our society is, “How could any one of us be happy if all the others were sad?”

Everyone is so focussed on his or her own happiness, that we have all beaten each other down and climbed over carcasses to get to a place of false happiness. We’ve bullied one another, judged each others’ clothes, shoes, etc., excluded people, and abused ourselves and others. If we extend a hand to one another, and all move forward together, imagine what we can accomplish.

It’s not going to solve everything, but I’ve had to realize that there is no magic pill. Take what you can and run with it. The small steps build up and become big steps. Let’s all take each others’ hands and step together.

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Children Will Listen

Ever since I started making this blog public on my Facebook and Twitter pages, friends have been sending me links to various articles, pictures, etc. as inspiration. I have a bookmark folder full of pages, and hope to do as many of them justice as I am able.

Today, however, I found a link on a friend’s page that moved me, and I wanted to share it with you right away. The story is titled,

“Mom, I’m Fat:” One Mother’s Inspired Response to Her 7 Year Old

From the article on http://www.rachelsimmons.com/

I highly recommend you read the article, but if you’re (word)pressed for time, I’ll give you the Coles Notes (Cliff Notes, for you non-Canadians) version here. A mother of FIVE (impressive/brave enough as is . . . ) watches her 7 year old daughter examine her body in the mirror. The girl tells her, “I’m Fat”. After twenty minutes of feminist, healthy talk, the mom is at a loss. She finally strips off her own clothes, makes her body jiggle, and makes up a rap along the lines of “We are perfect, just the way we are”. The girl ends up laughing, but the mom is left unsure if she has changed anything.

Every generation, the pressure on girls (and boys) to achieve the perfect body seems to grow and grow as the “ideal” body shrinks and shrinks. The onus isn’t just on parents anymore to raise their children to be strong, confident human beings, especially since the media is often more present in a child’s life than her mother or father. It is up to every person to make the world a more loving, accepting place.

But where do we start?

As a child of three, I stood in the mirror crying because I knew I was fat and ugly and that I hated myself. At five, I sighed during story time, because my thighs were too fat to ever be a fairy tale princess. I knew these things to be true,  and nothing anyone could have said would have changed my mind.  These messages don’t come from nowhere, but the answer to countering these beliefs is just as elusive as the cause.

To this day, the things I see in the mirror quite often disgust me. No matter how many people tell me differently, I don’t know how to love my body. I KNOW that the content of a person’s character is what matters. I KNOW that my body does (most of) what it’s supposed to, and it’s easier to walk and run and dance when I’m not emaciated. But these beliefs are ingrained in me. It’s all I know. I’m told that I should stand in front of a mirror and tell myself I’m beautiful until I believe it, but honey, a girl’s gotta work . . . I can’t spend all my time in a mirror.

I’ll get there someday. It’ll take a lot of work, and a lot of opening up to new ideas that make me ridiculously uncomfortable. Sometimes being kind to yourself is more painful than cruelty.

But that’s beside the point. How do we make this different for the next generation, so they don’t have to suffer the way we have? The mother in this article had the right idea.

Wherever we turn, we see women who are dissatisfied with their bodies. It doesn’t matter if they’re fat, thin, or in between, everyone wants to change something, and most people do it quite publicly.

“I can’t eat that.”

“Do you know how many calories are in that?”

“Ugh, I need to go to the gym.”

Women we emulate on tv, in movies, and in real life for their brains, kindness, achievements, etc. are on a diet. If we want to be like them, then we should diet, too, yes?

There’s a woman I admire very much. She has struggled through many unimaginable obstacles in her life. She could have let the pain overwhelm her, but instead she decided that she had more to offer the world than another suffering body. She did the work. She learned to love herself and her body, and doesn’t apologize for it. Anyone who spends any amount of time with her wants to be like her. Yes, she is gorgeous, but she is also brilliant and kind and caring and loving and the personification of “light”.  She is going to change the world.

This change doesn’t start with other people, though. We can’t change other people, but imagine what we could do if, as a generation, we decided to only speak positively about ourselves, and be ok with just “being”. Our children (well, not MY children . . . that ain’t happening) would see successful women who live  the proof that it’s ok to love themselves.

Women (and men) of the world, I want to issue a challenge. Let’s stop striving for perfection, and instead strive to be someone we’d like our children to emulate. I know, it’s going to take a long time and a lot of work. We’ve all harmed our bodies and souls, and learning to live another way won’t be easy. But next time you’re on the subway, look at the little child in the stroller across from you (no, not the screaming one . . . pick one you don’t want to strangle). What do you wish for that child? Now go and make that wish happen for yourself.

” . . . maybe if we are surrounded in beauty/Someday we will become what we see”

~Jewel

Jan. 19/12 – just found this article that echoes what I was saying . . .

Parents’ New Year’s Resolution Weight Loss Behaviors Can Contribute to Eating Disorders in Children

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Things the “normies” don’t see

When your brain functions normally, you tend not to see things that scream out at the eating disordered mind like Jillian Michaels whenever she gets near a gym. (For the record, I LOVE Jillian Michaels, and am convinced that once you turn off the volume and watch her with subtitles, she actually makes a lot of good points).

Facebook. I spend a lot of time there (did I mention I have a lot of free time lately? Just making sure). Like everyone else, I check my messages, make sure my Sims haven’t died, and sift through the “OMG-Did-you-see-Beyonce-at-the-VMA’s-Here’s-the-video-And-Perez-posted-the-sonogram-picture-Vote-on-what-they-should-name-the-baby” posts to find out what my friends are up to while I . . . check my Facebook.

Lately, I’ve been reading the entire Facebook page, including groups I forgot I joined (Did that man ever donate $6 934 561 to whatever charity I clicked to “like”?) and learning info about friends I forgot I made at a random audition two years ago that neither of us booked. Doing things like that, and being able to make plans even when my phone is broken are two of the many reasons I “like” Facebook.

Now, in spite of all the wonderful things Facebook can do, I have discovered one big ol DISLIKE. Have you ever looked at the ads in the sidebar? Just beneath your “Events” (look down . . . WAAAAAY down) are sponsored ads. These ads are usually for things related to stuff you or your friends like on Facebook (right now I have an ad for a “Honda Civic Garage Party”, and one for Smirnoff Rocket, neither of which I am particularly interested in, so thanks, friends). Every once in a while, however, one will pop up advising me to join Weight Watchers.

My conscious (most of the time), intellectual (when my brain is in its “better fed” times) mind knows that Facebook can’t see me sitting at my computer and judge my weight. Invariably, however, that sneaky fucker ED (see first post if you wonder who this abusive boyfriend of mine is) tells me that obviously Facebook is telling me that I’ve gained too much weight (I haven’t) and that joining Weight Watchers would be good for me (it wouldn’t).

While I don’t personally believe in Weight Watchers (I think there is a way to eat healthily without counting and measuring . . . I’ll figure that one out eventually), I understand that it works for some people. So not knocking Weight Watchers. I just really don’t want to see its ads popping up on my computer. So what can I do about it (besides ranting on this blog)?

It turns out that if you let your mouse hover over these ads (not with the intention of clicking on them, of course) a little “x” appears in the upper right-hand corner which, if you click on it, allows you to “Report this ad”. Facebook then asks you: “You have removed this ad. Why didn’t you like it?” Usually, I just go with the “Against my views” button. I think, however, I’m going to start telling Facebook what’s REALLY on my mind. If you click the “Other” option, you can write in your reason. Next time I see one, Facebook is going to get an eyeful. Or maybe just a link to this blog post. That’ll show them for interrupting my Words With Friends game!

In other news, Twitter makes suggestions on “Who to Follow” that often include Weight Watchers, Herbal Magic and people whose profiles introduce them as ” . . . generally obsessed with fat loss and fitness“. So far, no luck on figuring out how to report these kind nudges. The only option on the “x” is “Hide”. FUCK YOU, TWITTER! I’M NOT HIDING ANYMORE!!!*

*I do love Twitter, as well. No intention of deleting my account anytime soon. Gotta know what George Takei is thinking . . . Oh my!

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