06 June 2013
Loving My Body
When I was in my teens and early twenties, I was like many women seeking affirmation and direction. In this seeking, I was also receiving messages from both mainstream and alternative nutrition sources reinforcing the cultural construct about how women's bodies are supposed to be thin. At that time, I became so thin I only menstruated every few months.
Later, through deeper study and life experience, I learned about the dangers of low body weight and loss of menstruation (amenorrhea). Without adequate protein and fat, women’s bodies don’t regulate hormones properly, which can lead to loss of calcium and other minerals from their bones, adrenal and kidney depletion, and exhaustion. I succeeded in having the skinny model body type, but I found my health declining rapidly.
After experiencing many of these symptoms myself, I focused on learning about food and nutrition to uncover the truth about the myths we’re taught. Especially the ones that link a sick and weak body to “light, pure, and good.” My relationship with food and my body has been such a victory. I went from underweight and mildly bulimic, struggling with food and my body—to a happy, peaceful, and healthy relationship with food and my body. And to honoring the cycles of my monthly moontimes. I realized that when we are optimally nourished, our bodies are fertile. It’s an integral, if messy, part of the rich, full, deep experience of being a woman.
The biggest part of healing has come through the concept of nourishment. When the body is given what it needs, it’s not starving. It can regulate to our ideal body weight. We may not look like a teenage stick-person, but our bodies will achieve the balance they need to keep us well. Some of my favorite resources regarding food are the books Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, Eat Fat Lose Fat by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig and the Weston Price Foundation website (westonaprice.org). They are focused on nutrient-dense food and strong bodies.
I’m so grateful to be surrounded by women who can work hard and play hard because they eat well. We are changing the face of beauty as we do so. What would the world be like if we demanded real nutrition on our grocery store shelves and demanded images of real women from our media? We’d move from the deep-seated misogyny of our culture that leaves women feeling that they need to deny themselves, to a culture where women’s creative energy can be freed up to care for themselves. Women could find their sacred work in the world—the ways that they can contribute to the healing of the planet.