Let me introduce myself: my name is Brooke, I'm a mom (still very awesome to say), wife, sister, daughter and graphic designer extraordinaire. I battled bulimia and anorexia for many years and I'd like to say that I've kicked ED out of my life, but I know that he still lurks around when I'm vulnerable.
She could be the next Einstein, a world class athlete, or your friendly neighbour but if she’s what North American society deems to be ‘attractive’, the only thing the media cares about is how X product makes her eyelashes ten times fuller, Y shampoo makes her hair voluptuous and sexy, and that her tennis uniform is flattering. The message is that we should envy her because she has something we should all desire: the face, features, and body society defines as ideal.
During my one-year experience with anorexia nervosa, I had nightmares every time I went to sleep. None of these dreams were about weight loss or body image. Instead, they all portrayed a complete loss of control. Suffocation and incarceration were nightly themes. But, in particular, one storyline recurred when I was asleep and even during daydreams:
I've been reflecting on how much my body image has improved in the last few years (amazing as I'm "over 35".) We were doing an exercise on body image in a group last week and I was surprised with my positive thoughts and feelings about my body. I like the way my jeans fit now and how my arms aren't so skinny. I shun fashion magazines and the "heroin-chic look” of some models. Fifteen years ago, I thought I was huge at this weight. Now, it feels right. Had I finally learned to love and accept my body?
My writing generally invites people to take a look inside my mind but today, I invite you to look inside my old closet. It was full of clothing that was every size under the sun.
I participated in a group discussion recently regarding perfectionism. We were given a list of types of perfectionism – physical, achievement, perceived, emotional, self-esteem, relationship, etcetera. With so much talk about wellness and balance, I think sometimes I fall into balance perfectionism. Maybe some of that comes from the notion of being able to have it all – or even having to do my wellness "perfectly".
I recently found myself leading a workshop on body image and self esteem for a large group of grade seven and eight girls. One of the tools I like to lead with is a getting-to-know-you exercise in which every participant shares their name and something that they like about themselves with the group. The only rule is that this quality cannot be appearance-based. With adults, this exercise tends to be fairly smooth – at our age most adults are able to define something they value about themselves, even if it takes a moment of soul searching.
A short and sweet blog post for you today about the post vacation bulge we all tend to battle. I recently went on a glorious trip to Paris, the French Alps, Switzerland, and London! It was a whirlwind twelve days that definitely took me out of my daily routine. When you're not at the office, always eating on the go, and not exercising regularly, it's only natural to put on a few pounds. If you google "Vacation Weight Gain" you will see that many are desperately seeking advice on how to lose weight following their trips.
I've never blogged before. The first thing I do when I'm asked to write something is to research, so I looked at others' blogs to get information and ideas. The second thing I do when preparing to write is to become overwhelmed by everyone else's work – "Wow, that's great information/insight – how can I add to that? I'm not so prolific. I can't do it right". But then a little voice, that has grown louder along my journey to recovery, says, "There's no right and wrong," everyone has his/her own experience and way of sharing it. We learn and grow by taking risks.
A few weeks back when the weather really started to warm up I went for a run outside on the city streets of Toronto. As I passed by the Eaton Centre (this is a giant mall in the downtown core, for any of you not familiar with our lovely city) I stopped in a shady spot to have a drink of water. As I tilted my head up to drink from my bottle, I saw that what I was shaded by was a giant billboard displaying the advertisement shown below.