OK, I admit it. No one held a gun to my head.
And I almost didn’t watch the Academy Awards…but there I was drawn to it like a train wreck.
And of course the constant banter about how so and so looked and what so and so was wearing didn’t surprise me. After all, it was the Academy Awards…and the fact that they actually looked at one of the female actors and commented on how “great she looked considering she had just had a baby”…didn’t surprise me.
But it still nauseated me.
This actress who is a person full of talent and full of mommy-hood had to be reduced to comments about her waistline. And heaven forbid if she had been even rounder…the comments would have no doubt been snide and derisive and filled with suggestions about what she should have worn to cover up the baby fat.
Still, I went into the belly of the beast without force or coercion, and I have to take responsibility for putting myself in the line of fire.
What really hurts is when you are in neutral territory and get struck by friendly fire. The other day I “bumped into” someone on the street who I haven’t seen in years. We chatted a bit and I asked about a mutual friend, “How is Julie?” The response, “She looks great.”
Now unless Julie had been diagnosed with metastatic cancer last time I saw her, how she looks is not really saying anything about how Julie IS.
Why is it that when you ask how someone is you are told how someone looks?
No wonder people suffering from Eating Disorders and Body Dissatisfaction have difficulty separating WHO they are from HOW they look. All too often our appearance is the defining factor of how and who we are. It is insidious and fragmenting. Clinicians and clients have their work cut out for them because the task of integrating our selves, our bodies, and our appearance is extraordinarily challenging. It is rare that we get much help from the “outside” as it is socially acceptable to define people primarily by their looks; assigning positive attributes to people if they are the “right” size and shape.
As challenging as it is however, it is important for people to remember that they are more than a thigh, or a tummy, or an upper arm.
And while people’s issues with food and how they may use it for emotional reasons may contribute to fluctuations in weight, it is never the total portrait of how a person is.
So next time someone asks you how someone is, please, really listen to the question. Consider the whole person, and if you don’t know the answer, then THAT is your answer.