I’m an inspiration board kind of girl. The thought of covering an entire wall in cork has crossed my mind more than once. Pinterest tidily holds all that inspires me in the ether, where it doesn’t take up wall space. Yet Pinterest concerns me. Because there are way too many thinspiration boards. I hate knowing that someone will google thinspiration and probably end up on this blog, sorely disappointed to find I don’t believe that keeping mood boards pinned with images that motivate you to skip meals is inspiring. Or the only Jonathan Adler designs I don’t love – a needlepoint pillow emblazoned with the words “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” That ends up on a lot of those boards, too. (Why, JA? Why?)
For about seven years, as my unknown food allergies grew worse and I grew sick, I gained a lot of weight. Combined with the freshman fifteen, at one time I was a good fifty pounds heavier than I am today. Yet I didn’t look at photos of myself and feel unattractive. It didn’t make me insecure about dating or feel less as a woman. It just meant I bought new clothes.
Why now, a few days ago, looking a headshot to accompany an article I wrote, was I so hypercritical of how my arms looked? Why did I feel so confident then and not now?
In Los Angeles, where dieting is a way of life, I never had parents who made weight an issue. Only now do I realize how making it a non-issue was a huge issue. I was pretty average in height and weight as a little girl. Basically, the only one who ever commented on my weight was me. So, when I began having more health issues and gaining weight, at about twenty, I didn’t have the added pressure of being reminded of what I already knew. For which I am grateful. Because I couldn’t lose the weight however I tried. I’d never been much of an exerciser, but even working with a trainer made no difference. I now understand why, but at the time it was overwhelming. I sort of resigned myself to the fact that this was who I was for the time being. Hopefully, one day it would change.
I’d like to say I got into shape because I worked my ass off. The reality is that most of the change came from cutting out the foods I am allergic to. As a result, my body stopped fighting a war with every bit of gluten, soy, egg or dairy that invaded it. It also meant I removed all things processed, too. (Soy and gluten abound in boxed everything.)
About four years ago, as my weight dropped, people began to say things, flattering things, but they could be depressing to hear. We send really screwed up messages about weight and beauty and health. I remember someone coming up to me and remarking how fun it must be to be thin again because of all the fun things I could wear. And while I know I’m not exactly good with compliments, instead of saying thank you, I said I was just grateful to not live in pain everyday. Living without chronic pain? That made life more fun. Losing the weight was great, but I loved shopping whether a size 4 or 8 or 14. Truth be told, there are some clothes I really miss that I have kept in the back of my closet. Because when I was a size 14, I had fun things to wear, too.
My thoughts return to these thinspiration pins. I’ve wanted to leave comments, but how do you tell someone what they’re allowed to be inspired by? Sadly, we look at the size of someone’s waist as opposed to their BMI to determine their health worth. I know people who don’t gain weight no matter what they eat, but they aren’t healthy. Skinny-fat exists, but we don’t acknowledge it. Instead we embroider bon mots onto pillows that kids will read and take seriously. And they will pin these onto boards to remind themselves not to eat. That’s not inspiration, that’s starvation.
And now, five great things someone else said that are worth pinning:
It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness. – Leo Tolstoy, The Kreutzer Sonata
Beauty is not caused. It is. – Emily Dickinson
Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it. – Salvador Dalí
Nothing,’ wrote Tolstoy, ‘can make our life, or the lives of other people, more beautiful than perpetual kindness. – Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project
Too late, I found you can’t wait to become perfect, you got to go out and fall down and get up with everybody else. – Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes
*I know, it’s going backwards, but I realized I skipped a week.