Eating disorders are not necessarily all about vanity, but they do involve a poor self-esteem as well as a distorted sense of self and body image. I was anorexic for two years in junior high school. Because I've been there, I want to address this issue of body image. What was considered "sexy" in years past is much different than the standard set for today. Somehow we got a message from the media that says, "The thinner, the better" - and we still have young girls with very poor self-esteems as a result.
In the days of WWII (1940's), many servicemen had posters of Jane Russell pinned up. She was known as a "pin-up girl". The 1940's sex symbol was not "skin and bones", but rather "curvy and seductive". She was the "sex symbol" of the 1940's. She was apparently not unhealthy, she lived to be 89 years old. I'd say that's a nice long life, wouldn't you?
It seems that somewhere along the way the ideal figure for women got a bit distorted and frankly - a little messed up!
It seems to have happened in my generation (1960's). I admit that I fell into the mentality that not only was thinner somehow better, but taller and thinner was better! Today I still hear fashion models from the 1960's and 1970's do interviews and talk about how they literally had to starve themselves to keep their jobs. Is it just me, or does that seem a bit - um... wrong?
Twiggy seems to also be a very healthy woman. She's now 69 years old and still going strong! I honestly think that both of these women have their own unique image and appeal. So, if these two women - who are poles apart in appearance can both be attractive, what in the world makes us as women believe that we are not attractive as well? An eating disorder is not about vanity, but a distorted sense of self. I wrecked my feet because I wore heels all the time, trying to be taller. I was on every crash diet known to man. I loathed my short stocky build - I hated myself!
What makes you as a diabetic think you have to starve yourself or deny yourself life-saving insulin to make yourself into something that will be thin enough to be attractive?
Have we gotten that cold and socially blind and calloused?
Did you know that to even qualify to be a fashion model you must be at least 5'7" tall? Believe me when I say I've wished to look like Twiggy - but at 5'2" tall and (we won't talk about my weight) - there was just no way that I was ever going to be genetically designed to be a Twiggy look-alike. I knew at my height I had to give up my aspirations of ever becoming a fashion model. So instead, I became a short secretary (we're now called personal assistants) instead. The pay was not as good, but I got all the bagels and cream cheese I could eat every morning! Arr arr arr... a little diet humor there!
It was a long road back to begin loving me - the way I am - the person inside. My God-given qualities and talents that need to shine for others. There are things I know how to do that you don't. There are things you know how to do that I don't. To think that one is somehow superior to the other is just ridiculous!
I grew up with a mother who hated the way she looked, so that's what was modeled to me (no pun intended). I learned that if you could pinch more than an inch, you must be severely disfigured and ugly. As I got older and dealt with my own thoughts, feelings, and internal dialogue, I finally began to realize that I am alright and could be attractive in my own way. I also began to feel very sorry for my mother. She was never happy in her own skin - and that's quite sad. I loved her dearly, but wish she could have found more confidence in herself - she never shined like she could have. She got in her own way. It's exhausting to try to encourage someone to shine when they simply can't muster up the internal light in themselves! I tried to help her - I really did.
The Summer before my first year of high school the most wonderful thing happened! I received a letter in the mail letting me know I was chosen to be on the Falcon's flag team! I knew that meant in chilly temperatures I'd be dressed in shorts out on the football field - shorts! Me? YES! I accepted the challenge, despite my mother's reminders that I was short and not exactly built like a cheerleader. I remember thinking that she did not have self-confidence, but I will have self confidence and overcome my fear!
I was sent to a wonderful camp that Summer. I got to meet the other girls who were chosen for Wichita Height's flag team. We trained with flags and learned so much. I had so much fun and for the first time in my life, it was not about my stature, my weight or not being good enough. I was about having FUN! I made good friends and just had a blast!
Being on the flag team in high school was the best time of my life, honestly! We marched in parades and of course did half-time shows at football games. I broke out of my old mindset that because I was too short to be a fashion model, I must somehow be unworthy to do anything of any real value in life. I can flip a flag around with the best of 'em!!! Photo #1 - our fearless leader, Howard Pitler. Photo #2 - I'm standing behind the guy with the bass drum. Photo #3 - marching along with my flag to the side. Yeah, I think every time the flag moved, my dad took another picture! LOL!!! Bless daddy's heart - he was always in my corner! I think he should have been a cheerleader! He'd have my hide if he could read this!
Perhaps this is a revelation that only comes along with maturity, but on the day I accepted the challenge to be on the high school flag team, it dawned on me that I don't have to look like Jane Russell. I don't have to look like Lesley Hornby. The only person I have to look like - is myself - and even more to the point, the only person I have to look or behave better than - is me! I'm no longer in competition with anyone else! What a wonderful sense of freedom there is in just being the best Linda I can be - without worrying about what anyone else is doing.
So I declare here and now... I am Linda. Nobody will ever be a better Linda than me. I am short and stout (like a little teapot), but what I lack in height I make up for with a perky personality! I'm not perfect, I will never be perfect. I'm happy most days and try to keep a positive attitude toward life. If you love me that's great. If you hate me, I believe that's your character flaw, not mine. I don't change for anyone ever. I don't hate anyone ever because I'm just too busy loving people and trying to help them. A more loving world begins with me and I intend to show kindness and love just as often as I can. What if we all made that commitment?
I challenge you to make the same declaration. Declare today that you are not going to try to imitate anyone else - famous or otherwise. Declare today that you are just going to be the very best YOU that you can possibly be. Experience the freedom that comes with independence of being yourself! You were not made with a cookie cutter! You are a human being - a complete and whole individual. You are a blank canvas - now... go PAINT a masterpiece!!!
Body image issues.
I'm happy to share this beautiful poem with you, written by my friend Lucinda Berry Hill, author of "Coffee With Jesus". I love this poem. There is no mention of Rebekah trying to be anyone but her beautiful self!
Today is also INTERNATIONAL POLAR BEAR DAY!!!!!! I would not recommend that you hug a polar bear, but since we are celebrating "No Brainer Day" - you may want to hug a polar bear, I don't know! Either way - make sure you enjoy your day and celebrate responsibly...