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You posed a very interesting question. Most of the time I think it's just my body that I don't like, that overall I am a decent person. But sometimes I can't stand myself either. My thoughts, though I'd like to believe otherwise, are that you cannot achieve self-acceptance if you haven't accepted the way you look, but I don't really know.
It is a good question.I think life is always a dance with what we dream of or hope for ourselves - in all things, not just appearance.The quality of our lives is influenced by how well we do that dance...
You do always know how to make us think, Dr. Stacey! Here's my initial reaction to your questions: I used to think that I loved myself and just disliked (hate is such an extreme word!) my body. But I now realize that my "self" and my "body" are interconnected, no matter how much I might wish otherwise. As such, I now know that the behaviors I exhibit that drive me to binge and ultimately gain weight are what I really dislike...not my body. It's really what that part of my "self" *does* to my "body" that I'm dissatsified with. In short, it's the part of my psyche that is at the root of my body image issues that I have the problem with.
Despite my severe struggles with eating disorders, I've always been very confident, loved the way my mind works, and my life-experiences. I don't think I would trade my life for anyone else's. I know a lot of eating disordered women feel the same way- isn't it often the valedictoian, or the over-acheiving person who develops such behavior? I think what happens is we either feel like we have to be so perfect in everyway, that we start out trying to "perfect" our body in addition to being perfect in the rest of our lives. It's so hard to do- it's fighting biology and nature for heavens sakes- that we end up spending so much time. It's way ewasy to get A's than to weigh 100 pounds! Also, I think somewere along the way a lot of us lose our mind-body connection, and end up feeling like our bodies are seperate from who we are. I love who I am, but my body is just this shell I was born into. Therefore, I don't know how to get in touch with it, and often it angers me by gaining weight, getting sick etc. Just some thoughts anyway...Stella
I have major body image issues, which will escalate in Jan. Great questions..Looking forward to reading replys.
I agree that our body and mind/spirit/soul are interconnected, but I do think there is a distinction, to some degree. Reading your question, Dr.Stacey, and some of your readers' comments, I was reminded of one of my friends in high school. She was super-good looking and all the guys were into her. I remember her telling me one day that she was afraid that, once people got to know her, they wouldn't like her; that guys were only attracted to her because of her good looks, not because of who she really was. I was stunned when she told me this, because I'd always felt the exact opposite. I never thought I was particularly attractive, but I did think that, as a person, I was worth loving. I thought that people would have more of a reason to love me as they got to know me better and looked past the surface. I do find the body and mind are connected in that I don't like myself when I start obsessing about food and can't control myself around it. It's hard for me to respect myself then. When I'm eating well, however, and making smart choices, I can respect myself and overall feel much better about myself. Conversely, when I am already feeling bad about myself, I am that much more likely to engage in unhealthy eating behavior...
I don't even know if I can answer this question, because although I have often found things to be dissatisfied about, I've never felt HATE for any part of myself, including my body. Have I wished for a flatter stomach? Sure. But I've finally realized that, as hard as my stomach may get through exercise, it will never be flat. I am actually working toward, and feeling successful, at accepting and even liking it (thanks in no small way to my partner's wonderful words). But, trying to separate the question from my own feelings, I do think it's possible to DISLIKE one's body while still loving and accepting oneself. But HATING your body? I think if a person hates, truly hates, part of themselves, they are likely to be dissatisfied with many aspects of themselves. Hate is truly a very strong word, one that I try never to use, except when talking about an external inanimate object, as in, "I hate that restaurant" or that food, or that song, etc.
I have definitely hated my body from time to time, but I think it stemmed from a more global dissatisfaction, a general feeling of inadequacy - the disturbed body image was just symptomatic. But I've also been on the other side (now, for instance) where I love my life and what I'm doing with it and who I am, but am not totally at ease with my body. It's kind of weird, actually, accepting that I'm not as thin as I wish I was, but still wishing I were thinner.
I don't think you can love yourself if you hate your body. I think hating your body is a symptom of hating yourself, a projection of how you feel about yourself. If you loved your self, you'd at least accept your body. You'd not hate it. Hating your body is hating yourself. It is self-destructive....
If you've ever experienced an illness that puts you in alot of pain (for me it was a frozen shoulder with one full year of chronic pain) then I could give you a resounding YES, but I don't think that is quite what you mean.I now look at my body in a more detached way. Its a bit like a garden, always changing. Sometimes it needs a little cleaning up (detox) and other times a full prune (diet). Usually it just needs to be tended on a day to day basis (maintaining a healthy lifestyle). Just like a garden I could never hate it - I just get annoyed with the weeding sometimes.
I look at my son who has absolutely no self-consciousness of self, of body, etc. and I marvel and envy at the same time. If I asked him this question he would say, "why would I hate my body? Why would anyone hate their body? What is there to hate?" When I have hated my body to the point of disgust and mutilation, it really had nothing to do with my body. It was about me and how desperate my life had become. I was hating myself; my body was just a casualty of war. And, it had nothing to do with how fat or thin or whatever I was at the time. I was full of self-loathing and (I guess?) it was just easier to go off on my body, something tangible, something that was already under scrutiny by everyone else, than to delve into the nebulous world of emotions. My sense of self and my body are a symbiotic relationship. When one is healthy, the other is healthy. When one is under attack, the other is under attack. I don't know about being able to love either my self of my body. Acceptance is about the best I can do at any given time.
Who knew that I could write such a short post and get such amazing comments? ; )ptc--you're, of course, a decent person. lc--good metaphor. . .jen--so, for you, there was a false dichotomy between body and mind. It's interesting how the two came together.stella--thanks for wrtiting. You have a wonderful way of expressing your thoughts.heidi--unfortunately, this is true for many. ej--interesting story. I think it's hard, though, to separate process from outcome--if binge-like eating resulted in weight-LOSS, would it still be hard to respect yourself? anon--hate is a strong word, as you say, but many associate it w/their bodies. It's great that you're working toward self-acceptance. elissa--I think the "disturbed body image" as you say is often "symptomatic" of other issues. Thanks for making that point.haley--it is self-destructive. What about "just" disliking your body?ds--another great metaphor. : )fc--wonderful thoughts. It saddens me that not everyone can have the reaction that your son would have. . . .
No, you cannot love yourself if you hate your body. duh. i know that i hate my body. but iv never loved myself either. the way my body looks is a result of my lack of control and love for myself. if i loved myself, i'd beable to achieve a satisfying body.
I will hate myself in certain situations because it's socially acceptable, even expected. I will love myself by hating myself when it's appropriate to do so. Like how it's appropriate to hate getting zits. There is no zit-acceptance movement I'm aware of.Today, the majorty treats obesity like they treat acne: hated and desired to be removed. So, because I love my life, I'll do the same, to survive.
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