Monday, February 8, 2010


It's a concept that can evoke terror in women. And we all react to it in different ways. Some of us shun it to the extreme and feel like if we don't give in to it, we've achieved some convoluted sense of power over our universes. Some of us panic at the first sign of hunger and overindulge immediately. Both are equally unhealthy. Power over our own lives should not be contrived through what we put into our mouths, nor should the slightest twinge of discomfort send us running to the nearest Krispy Kreme to quiet the screaming demon that lives at the bottom of our bellies.

This is something I've been pondering the last few weeks. Admittedly, I've never struggled with eating disorders like Anorexia or Bulimia. I've never even been close to being in danger of starving myself or exercising myself to death. But nevertheless, for a very long time I have had an unhealthy relationship with my body and, in turn, with food.

I remember in high school standing in my two-piece in front of the full length glass in our back door looking at the span of my entire body. Legs, awesome. Boobs, pretty great, if I don't say so myself. Tummy, ugh. Ewww. There was like a quarter inch of flesh just barely curving out over the top of my swimsuit bottoms. Barely a bump, but a bump still.

Sitting in class, I would look down at my stomach. Perfectly flat all the way down until my abdomen started. And that part curved outward just ever so slightly when I was seated. SUCK IT IN.

Reasons for this are probably multitude and range from family all the way to society. And I don't think the reasons for my body image are as important as my discovery and response to it. And that's what I've been working on lately. I wrote earlier about consciously monitoring my physical response to hunger-- the anxiety, the tense muscles, the shortness of breath. And I wrote about how that anxiety about not getting fed was not merely physical. It was emotional, and I knew it. So I've been breathing. I've been acknowledging the hunger and talking myself through it. I've been learning to be comfortable with it.

(An aside: Please know that I am in no way encouraging starving yourself here. I am not advocating denying yourself food to keep your body healthy and alive. I'm only talking about that twinge that sends some of us running to the pantry for Little Debbies. Swiss Cake Rolls, preferably.)

I've acknowledged that for me the hunger is really a need to be accepted. It's a need to just be and be okay. And I'm about three weeks into it now, and I weigh about twelve pounds less. I feel a little more empowered in my own life (not to be confused with a contrived sense of power that comes from purposefully denying things to yourself). I have learned that I have a need, and I've learned how to meet that need myself.

I think, as women, it's important for us to acknowledge that we do have needs. Those needs are vast and multitude and important. Sometimes others can help meet our needs, but I think it's vitally important for us to discover ways in which we can meet our own needs. Because when we learn to meet our own needs, we are able to value others and what they add to our lives more fully. I liken it to picking teams for kickball in elementary school. Would you rather be the last kid picked to be on a team because they had to pick you... because they needed another team member to be even with the other team? Or would you rather be the kid who gets picked early on because they want you. Because you add something to their team. When we are able to meet our own deepest needs, we are free to value and appreciate the loved ones around us for simply who they are and for what they add to our lives-- instead of sucking the life force out of them by often unsuccessfully demanding that they meet needs that we cannot meet ourselves.

So I'm thinking that for me hunger is not a bad thing. It reminds me that I am Ashly, plain and tall, and getting lighter (and more healthy) by the minute. It helps me remind myself that I am seen and heard and loved. And that feeling the need for those things is good, and not something bad that needs to be squelched ASAP. And being able to meet those needs is even better.

It's what I'm working on. :)


tomorrowsmemoriesphotography said...

i got all chipper when i noticed on FB that you had a new entry. and i told myself that reading the entry would be a reward after editing 20 pictures this afternoon. i just finished my 20th image and am here...reading. :)
yay for the weight loss! i'm so proud of you Ashly!

and i'm gonna have to agree with you - if we can't learn to meet our needs in a healthy way, we end up becoming needy, greedy women who exhaust everyone around us...
i love how you were able to compare this with hunger!

keep up the great job and keep up blogging about it!

okay, back to editing...