Geneen Roth has written many books on women and food- Feeding the Hungry Heart, When Food is Love, Breaking Free From Emotional Eating, When You Eat at the Refrigerator Pull Up A Chair, Women, Food and God, etc. Roth writes about her personal experiences with dieting, weight loss and weight gain (both healthy and unhealthy), self-love and acceptance, gaining confidence, and feeling beautiful. No matter how you might characterize your relationship with food- restrictive, binging and/or purging, some combination of the three- there are helpful pieces of wisdom in her books for everyone.
Roth does a great job of promoting healthy body image, especially in light of our culture's unrealistic beauty ideals. Recently, I had the opportunity to speak to parents of young girls about promoting positive body image in their daughters. One of the key points that I made was that in order to foster positive body image in girls, you must model a positive, healthy body image yourself. Whether you have daughters or not, you probably have a sister, a friend, a cousin, etc. who is female- so this applies to all of us. :) It is important that as women, we work to encourage and model healthy self-esteem and body image for ourselves, but also for the women in our lives. That is one challenging task these days. I want to share a few lines from Roth's book Breaking Free From Emotional Eating that addresses this subject-
"Living in a woman's body is not easy. Especially if you happen to look like a woman and not like an adolescent boy. We've spent years trying to slice away what makes our bodies womanly: the roundness, the lushness, and we've sliced our spirits instead. We've listened for so long to what they- our parents, our fashion moguls, our Hollywood directors- decide is attractive that we've lost our own voices. We don't know who we are anymore.
Power is born when we stop trying to unzip ourselves out of our bodies, when we stop trying to lose so much weight we look like boys or gain so much weight we can't be seen. Power is born with the willingness to be seen."
That last line is particularly powerful, and may hold a clue to body image struggles that we all experience at one time or another-- and for some, are more chronic and pervasive. Being seen and using our voices are both directly tied to our view of ourselves and our worth. Examining our worth as people, knowing where our true value comes from and claiming that can be powerful in having a healthy and appropriate view of ourselves. For more on emotional eating and body image, check out Geneen Roth's books.