I have a big mouth. Or in this case, flying fingers.
I probably should have used more discretion, but there are certain subjects that just get me going. Recently, it was a young woman tweeting about her yearning to look hot in a bikini which, for her, equated to being “the skinny chick” for once in her life. I’ve been watching her tweets about her exercise and weight loss for a few months now, while I nursed my concern and held my tongue (or my fingers) fairly successfully. But I can’t stand it when girls – or women – talk about wanting to be skinny. It doesn’t equate to health. It doesn’t equate to beauty. It is driven by standards that don’t serve us well, and impossible for most women to attain, standards that come from outside, and leave us feeling less-than, inside. And so I probably overstepped my bounds a bit and said more than I should have.
Perhaps this rant seems hypocritical, since a big part of my practice is weight loss. Well, here’s the truth. I consider weight loss a “gateway” issue: one that gets people in the door of my office and allows me to show them how much better and healthier they can be, feel, and look, in just a few months.
Don’t get me wrong: I am very, very good at helping people lose weight. I do it by helping them get healthy: by showing them how to heal their metabolism, lose body fat, improve hydration and increase lean muscle. I provide good information, support, and accountability, with sound nutrition, individualized for each client. Usually, along the way, all sorts of symptoms decrease, or simply vanish, as clients begin to recover their health. Symptoms they never mentioned to me, and didn’t even know they could eliminate. Symptoms they had somewhere along the way begun to think of as “normal”: for them, or their family, or their age. Sleep improves. Energy skyrockets. Moods stabilize. And yes, clothes start to hang, particularly around the waist. And in the process, because you feel so good, your relationship with your body starts to heal.
Here’s a secret: a healthy weight is a “side-effect” of being healthy. You don’t get healthy by losing weight. You lose weight by getting healthy. And then it’s still not about being skinny. It’s about being … a healthy weight. A healthy body composition. (Did you know you can be skinny but have high body fat? That’s not healthy.)
Elizabeth Taylor died this week. She may have been slim as a girl, but she was not skinny as a woman. Certainly not by today’s standards. She was lush, sumptuous, vibrant, voluptuous, and undeniably gorgeous. With her heart shaped face and violet eyes, she was the ultimate Venus, goddess of love. What made her so sexy was not just her body, but how she inhabited it. You could just tell she loved her physicality. She celebrated and dramatized it. She clearly gloried in it, even as she aged. She came of age in the 50s, an era when curves were still valued. (They still are, by most men.) She was nothing like Audrey Hepburn or Grace Kelly, rail thin clotheshorses who projected coolness rather than warmth. And nothing like Marilyn Monroe (who I’ve always loved), whose beauty conveyed vulnerability and, ultimately, sacrifice. Elizabeth Taylor never seemed a victim of anything: not the fame she attained, the ups and downs of her career, her marriages, her weight, or anything else.
She had her own desires: An appetite, for food, for jewels, for celebrity, for love, for life. Her beauty, while certainly something she was born with, was electrified by her utter delight and ease in being herself. Yes, there were excesses too. I know she wasn’t perfect. But she was, in many ways, a great role model. How many of today’s celebrities seem warm, comfortable with who they are, and fully themselves? How many people do you know at all who project that?
I think we can learn from her. We may not have her violet eyes, but we can take the same degree of pleasure in the gifts that we do have. Isn’t that a delicious idea? It’s not about longing for some “perfect” form you’ve seen elsewhere. It’s certainly not about berating yourself for being imperfect. It’s about thoroughly appreciating and enjoying who you are, and what you’ve got. Revel in it.
Cultivating the capacity to experience joy in your own physicality is very sexy. In any outfit. Take it from Elizabeth. She sure knew how to live life with gusto.