On Body Image and Radical Self Love

How Learning To View My Body Differently Dismantled A Bunch Of Other Toxic Shit Too.

Part of learning radical self-love is digging into every motivation I have around decisions regarding beauty and fitness and health. For example, here was my debate in the dressing room when I was trying to shop for a dress (NEEDED POCKETS) recently.

“The first dress is really flattering. Wait. What do I mean by that? Do I mean it is slimming? Why is that automatically “flattering” and why do I care? The pattern is super-boring and I don’t love what it does to my boobs. The other dress on the other hand…completely highlights my belly, kinda makes me look pregnant almost, but it’s long and flowy and obnoxiously floral which I love and it’s loose so it’s cool and…I’m getting the second dress. OBVIOUSLY. “

This kind of thing also happens when I’m deciding what I want to eat. When you’ve grown up in diet culture and developed many of your relationships with food around weight gain and loss, it’s hard to sort out your motivations. I didn’t just start craving salads overnight because my body “likes salads.” But I did stop binging a gallon of ice cream before bed because I no longer demonized food and so I wasn’t classifying “good” days and “bad” days – allowing myself to binge on the “bad” days and purge on the “good” days. We’ve had a gallon of ice cream in the fridge for almost 4 months now. Do you know how long that would have lasted when I was suffering from binge-eating/running compulsions? ONE WEEK. POSSIBLY ONE DAY. I think about food when I’m hungry, that’s about it. This did not happen overnight, but once I started digging into my motivations around food and trying to toss out all of the shit programmed by diet and fitness industries…I found myself naturally eating more intuitively.

And no weightloss! (A lot of people push “intuitive eating” because it will help you lose weight. Wanted to make sure you didn’t think I was one of those people.) Probably still gaining, I don’t know because I don’t step on a scale ever. Because who the fuck cares? Not this girl! (True story – they weighed me when I tried to give blood a few months and I was 200lb on the dot and y’all…I didn’t give two shits. Seriously. I actually was really proud because 5’3” and 200lbs would have been devastating to Kim ages 14-40 but Kim of 40+ gives no shits.)

All of this is to tell you that I’ve seen ascinating side effects of all of this Digging Into Motivations thing. It turns out, when you start training your brain to dig into your motivations, you might find a lot of shit rooted in unhealthy systems of oppression like misogyny or racism or capitalism or trauma. Here are a few of my personal examples.

I used to get really stressed out when the kids had friends over. Like…I kinda established that I do not want them to have friends over ever because it causes me so much stress. Do you know why it caused me stress? Because I would start thinking about all of these kids who live in these big nice houses and my house is small and often messy and we never have cool food or snacks and…and…and.

But it turns out, if you trash all of that shit rooted in programming from toxic materialism and extraction capitalism…you don’t care about what people think of your house. Because if they criticize it, that’s on them, not on you. And do you know what has happened? My daughter and her teenage friends regularly hang out at my house and I get to know them and they’re all fun and awesome and they love my house and don’t care if the bathrooms are dirty or if we have no food. They wish Rosco’s breath wasn’t so bad and that Zoomie wasn’t such a hyper freak…but they like it at my house. Even if they come from bigger, nicer houses. You know why they like it? Because we like them. Turns out, the most welcoming thing you can do in your house is simply enjoy the people visiting.

Here’s another thing: When Donnie went on sabbatical last year he started doing more housework. Something he has never ever ever done. At least in a long time. And do you know what I did? FREAKED THE FUCK OUT. I kept taking it personally, like he was telling me I was a horrible house keeper. I kept griping at him and getting upset and making BIG HUGE DEALS out of his sweeping or mopping like he had just verbally assaulted me in some way.

But do you know what all of that is rooted in? MISOGYNY! Turns out, I just felt like I was supposed to be doing that stuff like a lot of us think and if you can start to dismantle that shit you have more free time because A) you’re not mopping the floors so much and B) you’re not thinking about how you should be mopping the floors. And then your husband gets to break down some of his own socially programmed toxic masculinity and it’s a Win/Win for everyone!

There is so much shit I don’t do around the house anymore AND I LOVE IT.

One final area this Digging into Motivations has disrupted my old way of perceiving the world: Me as a People Pleaser. My “People Pleasing” is rooted in a lot of shit that I’ve had to dismantle in therapy over the years, but nothing has been as helpful as this pandemic where I was focusing on breaking up all of my instinctive habits. I do like to do things for the people I love, it gives me a sense of fulfillment and it’s the way I show my love to those people. But, it turns out that there’s a lot of shit I don’t love doing and so when something like that comes up and I start the Digging In process I conclude lately, Wait. I’m not doing this because I want to show my love, I’m doing it because I’m a chronic people pleaser sometimes putting my own needs behind another person’s.

For example – my husband recently was gifted a banana tree from a family friend. He kept forgetting to go pick it up. He said to me one day, “Since you’re going to be out and about if you could pick that up for me that would be great.” But you know what? I didn’t want to. My instinct was to say, “Okay,” but when I dug in I could see that I didn’t want to go to the house of someone I barely knew to pick up a tree that I didn’t even care about just because my husband hates running errands. So do you know what I said?

Brace yourself…it’s epically Non-Kim.

“I have no interest in taking on a task that has already been assigned to you.”

He didn’t really need my help, he just wanted my help. And it was to do a task that would stress me out. SO I DID NOT DO IT.

And on the opposite side of things, I’m serving my family more in the ways that actually fulfill me too. Spending time together, great conversations, fun spontaneous outings…which is still people pleasing, but more 2-sided than chores and errands.

It turns out, once you start Digging into Motivations in any area of your life…whether it’s distorted ideas around health or beauty, or toxic people-pleasing from being raised by emotionally unstable parents…YOU CAN FIND A LOT OF AREAS THAT NEED REARRANGING. It has been fabulous.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still depressed as fuck. I’m still a messy ball of perpetual anxiety. But I’m putting myself as a much bigger priority in my life. I’m trying to really learn what I need and don’t need, what I like and don’t like, what I want and don’t want. What makes me feel good, what makes me happy, what gives me purpose.

All because I wanted to stop obsessing over losing weight.

This post is cross-posted from substack. I am currently trying to move my blog (which kept getting hacked…real hacked not I-clicked-a-bad-link hacked) to WordPress.com from self-hosted wordpress and during all of the research/move I’ve been writing at substack and so I’m trying to bring all of those posts over here for when everything is finally done.

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