A few months ago I came across a powerful blog post written by another therapist in Atlanta, Georgia who specializes in food and body image issues like myself. Her post was something I could have written word for word. In fact, I had pondered writing on this exact topic months before her post landed in my inbox. She beat me to it but I am grateful, as I can use this as an opportunity to share my own thoughts on body acceptance as an eating disorder therapist.
Clients come to me looking for the answers that will assist them in living peacefully in their bodies. And so, I act as their guide and walk with them down the path towards healing and body acceptance. I teach my clients healthy ways to tolerate and manage their negative thoughts. I help them learn how to not act on their eating disorder behaviors and improve their coping skills. I encourage them to align with what’s truly important in their life and take action around their values. I help them uncover the roots of their body hate. I bring light to the cultural messages that society drowns them in. I encourage them to look at the messages they received about their bodies growing up in their family. I help my clients identify any trauma that has been incurred and how they have chosen to use their body as a vehicle to express that pain. Lastly and most importantly, I model for my clients how to live in their bodies by showing up in mine each week, with full presence.
I think there is an assumption that because I work in the field of body image and eating disorders that I must be free of any struggles when it comes to loving my own body. This assumption makes sense given the work I do. However, I often worry that when I work with clients struggling to love and respect their own bodies that they presume me to be a super-woman with almighty powers who never has a negative thought about my body ever. Wrong! While I am deeply committed to accepting my body and modeling this for my clients, it would be a lie to say that I don’t find fault in my body. I am human. And yes, I have days when I am critical of my body and its reflection in the mirror. To be honest, this usually occurs in days preceding my menstrual cycle. The changing hormones in my body contribute to me feeling more uneasy and irritable in my body. I’m more aware of the aging settling into my face, my soft belly that is now stretched out from pregnancy and the fact that my muscle tone is less than it was in my 20s. These moments of discontent don’t last long but they still happen. What’s important is that when they arise I don’t harm my body in an effort to change it into something it isn’t. I accept it where it is right now, in this moment, not trying to hide it or alter it. This, I believe, is the key to learning to love your body. And this, is how I model body love.
Rebecca Clegg is a warrior in the field of eating disorders and body image. She is a therapist, an educator and a coach and she wrote about her own experience of judging her body from time to time as I just did. I want to thank Rebecca Clegg, the therapist who braved this conversation for the first time. Click on the link below and read her beautiful and poignant post as well.