Societal Pressures

I have noticed a few things over the past few weeks. One: nobody has control over my body but me. Two: my body needs care if I am going to be successful in my life. I have also noticed that body image, weight gain, weight loss, food choices, even drink choices, and clothing all make this dynamic impact on how one can expect to be treated. That last one should be bunk.

So, over my years of working in random fields, nothing brings a group of people together more than talking about weight problems. Despite a history of anorexia and 20 years of dysfunctional eating patterns, I think I am actually doing really well. I have dealt with food shaming, body shaming, clothes shaming, and even shoe shaming (I do love my heels). I am still alive.

Needless to say, I have been thinking really hard about all of this and how to respond. It is disgusting-very disgusting-when you think about it. So, how does one change it?

I hate to say it, but I am not sure there is a way to change it. I go to doctor’s appointments and there are magazines about cleanses and eating healthy and how to impress your mate and such. There is so much pressure on people to be these perfect creatures that are so capable of looking ideal and helping the world one perfect encounter at a time.

As my body has changed over these past few months, I have found it increasingly difficult to accept societal pressures. I’ve also started reading more and realizing that I am so much more than a number on the scale. I am so much more than my meal plan. I am so much more than my diagnoses. If I were to be really honest, I like feeling smart again. No, my body isn’t the size I wish it were, but I have a brain.

I have a brain. I am thinking about bigger issues now. My mind isn’t a running scoreboard of calories, carbs, proteins, and sugars. When that is running through your mind, it is incredibly difficult to do anything worthwhile.

So, why does society make it so important to eat and look a certain way?

This is a huge question and one I am not really sure how to answer. Perhaps, it is a return to the ideas of the 20s and 30s where people were judged for their physical attributes. Seriously, eugenics happened. People were imprisoned and sterilized if they did not fit the standards of society.

Let’s think back to the recent past where we are just now starting to recognize different forms of intelligence. I know people who believe themselves to be incredibly stupid if they cannot write or read very well. Let’s ignore their mathematical, engineering, spatial intelligence, and just basic living skills. Why don’t we say that parents are super heroes? Their abilities to manage tiny lives while also taking care of themselves, their jobs, their bills, their house, EVERYTHING… Well, that takes a lot.

I know I am getting off-track. I am just so surprised by society lately. I have been somewhat disgusted by the forceful impetus of society toward a perfect body and person. I know that was not my original fall into the trap, but it does affect me now. I remember the compliments of being size X and people telling me how great that was and how controlled I was. I had a teacher ask how I did it. I just shrugged my shoulders.

You know, I never really believed that I was good enough because I was never thin enough, I wasn’t at the top of my class, I’m not published… The list goes on and on of all these reasons that I am not quite good enough. What does that even mean? Good enough for whom?

I exist and that makes me good enough. I help people. I smile and joke and try to help others smile. I think I would make a great comedian. There are all of these fabulous people in the world that don’t fit the societal ideal and we want to praise them when they lose weight, bash them if they wear the wrong thing, or tear them down simply for being human and having a bad day. Where is our humanity?

How soon is it that we return to a society that will sterilize those that are deemed unfit? How soon is it that we return to a society that completely ignores the issues faced by its individuals? We have the #metoo movement and men are worried that they are going to be accused of some wrongdoing. The movements are made to raise awareness of how big the problems are. What can we do to make a change? How can one person make a difference? When will we realize that we are enough?

Author: Darlene Milam

So, a little bit about me. I am a coffee lover, animal lover, and book reader extraordinaire. Not really the extraordinaire part. I want to be the next great American novelist, or memoirist. I am recovering from anorexia and engaging in daily battles with managing mental illness and other physical health problems. I believe in the power of healing through writing and want to share my story so others know they are not alone. Please comment, ask questions, like, and enjoy reading.

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