Recently, in my role as a National Recovery Advocate of Eating Recovery Center’s Family Institute, I had the opportunity to speak with adolescents and children struggling with eating disorders at our program in Denver. While I was deeply touched to connect with these brave individuals, I was also saddened that kids as young as eight must suffer with the treacherous illness. That is why, with this blog post, I am excited to introduce you to Andrea Wachter’s newest work, Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall: Breaking the “I Feel Fat” Spell. Written for children twelve and under, this book is an important one that I wish I had read as a child. If I had, I might not have fallen so deeply into my own eating disorder. Many thanks to Andrea for allowing me to share your beautiful words.
For a chance to win a signed book, see information at the bottom of this post!
A Body Apology
By Andrea Wachter, LMFT
Imagine you had a friend, and 24 hours a day, this friend was working for you, doing all kinds of really important things. Imagine your friend was holding you up, helping you walk, breathe, laugh, sleep, read, see, dream, hear sounds, touch things, feel love, pump blood into your veins, digest food, and countless other miracles.
Imagine after all that help and non-stop work, your response was to criticize this friend, call them names, and tell them you don’t like them or even that you hate them. Can you imagine that?
Well this is what many people do to their bodies. Our bodies work constantly for us, 24/7; and thanks to the media injecting unhealthy, unrealistic messages into our minds, every single day, most of us are not only forgetting to thank and appreciate our bodies for all that they do, but walking around hating the amazing bodies we live in. Some kind of thanks that is!
I began hating my body when I was a teenager. This led me to a decades-long, unpaid career of dieting, overeating and obsessing on my poor, unappreciated body. Thankfully, after many years and tears, I found the help I needed. I learned over time, how to treat myself with kindness and compassion, and I learned how to eat real food in moderate amounts. And now I have the honor of helping others do the same.
I realized recently that while my body must be infinitely more content with the treatment it receives from me now, I felt like I owed it an apology for all the decades that was not the case. So, I wrote a Body Apology. I thought I would share it with you in the hopes that you might join me in one of your own.
- I am sorry for ignoring your hunger signals for so many years.
- I am sorry for making you drink disgusting diet shakes and eat tasteless diet foods.
- I am sorry for stuffing you with excess food and then shaming you when you were only responding to the starvation and self-hate that I was inflicting on you.
- I am sorry for comparing you to other women I knew nothing about and thinking you were supposed to look like them.
- I am sorry I thought of you as an object to gain approval and attention, rather than the amazing miracle that you are.
- I am sorry for hating every freckle, lump and bump on your skin.
- I am sorry for stuffing you into clothes that felt too tight and hating you when things no longer fit.
- I am sorry for making you wear high-heeled shoes that felt way too cramped and uncomfortable.
- I am sorry for criticizing you every time I saw your reflection in a mirror or a window.
- I am sorry for thinking you could not leave the house without wearing make-up.
- I am sorry for depriving you of rest when you were tired.
- I am sorry for pumping you with caffeine instead of listening to your natural rhythms.
- I am sorry you had to ingest dangerous substances because I wanted to fit in and look cool.
- I am sorry I made you exercise in ways you didn’t even like.
- I am sorry I put you in situations you did not really want to be in.
- I am sorry I ignored your wise intuition and said “yes” when you clearly felt “no.”
- I am sorry I avoided your natural emotions and instead, turned to unhealthy behaviors and unkind thoughts.
- I am sorry I stayed silent when you nudged me to speak up, because I feared the disapproval and rejection of others.
- I am sorry I put countless cigarettes into your lungs because I didn’t yet know how to handle stress or pauses in the day.
- I am sorry I spent so much time criticizing you that I forgot to say thank you and acknowledge your amazing senses, systems, limbs and organs.
- I am sorry I thought my value as a human being was entirely dependent on you.
- Oh, and I am sorry about those leg warmers and shoulder pads in the 80’s!
Andrea Wachter is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and co-author of Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Breaking the “I Feel Fat” Spell as well as The Don’t Diet, Live-It Workbook. She is also author of the upcoming book, Getting Over Overeating for Teens. Andrea is an inspirational counselor, author and speaker who uses professional expertise, humor and personal recovery to help others. For more information on her books, blogs and other services, please visit: www.andreawachter.com.
For a chance to win a signed copy of Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall: Breaking the “I Feel Fat” Spell, just post a comment below!