American Dream

Why we're bad at self-care


I hope you had a pleasant Valentine's day and President's day weekend. Self-care is important. Self-care, self-love. Whatever you want to call it. 

A lot of people (like yoga instructors and crystal enthusiasts) talk about self-care. 

It always sounds like meditating in your kimono after a luxurious bubble bath. I should say that I am terrible at self-care. I think most Americans are too. 

That's the reason this post came late. Last week, I hadn't gotten enough sleep. I was hungry and promised to hang out with a few people. Having gotten up at 5 AM, I felt I wasn't honoring the tradition of self-care if I sat down and wrote on a Friday night, even if it was about self-care. How could I write a blog post about it?

Today, I am pushing past the pain to write.

Because that's what we do. The reason that most of us struggle with self-care is that we feel like our bodies are thwarting our productivity. 

This is otherwise known as "protestant work ethic." American culture highly values productivity at all costs. The "protestant" piece of this definition alludes to morality. We work hard because we want the American Dream (which is promised to those of us who are willing). We also work hard because it is MORAL. We feel like we aren't good people if we're not working hard. 

We are always supposed to be working. But, let's just say, for the sake of argument, that you need rest.

For example, we all know, that sleep is necessary. Not getting enough sleep is equivalent to being intoxicated.

How many times do you find yourself giving up sleep in the service of some big pay-off? Whether it was making a diorama in 3rd grade or answering emails at midnight, you've likely given up a lot of sleep for school, your career, or relationships. 

We have been conditioned to DENY our bodies for the greater good. 

Many believe that our bodies are impure. If we left it up to our bodies, we think there'd be nothing but looting, pillaging, and cookie dough binges. 

This belief prevents us from loving our bodies. 

Love is, after all, about trust. This is at the crux of intuitive eating. We need to re-learn trust and respect for our bodies. 

If you want to feel better about your body and food, the first and most important step is LISTENING. 

Next week, I'll talk more about what self-care has to do with intuitive eating. Sign up below to get the post emailed to you directly!

What Does Weight Loss Mean to You?

 A lot of people just assume that you're healthy if you've lost weight. 

 When you see someone who has lost weight, you don't actually witness a montage featuring some cool glam rock where your friend is doing jump ropes, eating vegetables, and celebrating on top of a mountain (That'd be cool though.)

BUT..... Weight loss also means more than just health to the people who are impressed by it.

Weight loss is a form of cultural capital. This is a fancy sociology term for the phenomenon of  finding somebody cool for traits besides money, like middle schoolers admiring yo-yo tricks or possession of giga-pets.  

In modern society, today, however, being thin or losing weight signifies social power. It's something that my homegirl, Isabel Foxen Duke recently discussed in a podcast with Summer Innanen and it's something I've mentioned before in my blog posts

Being skinny often means: 

1) You are more "attractive."

In a Tinder-focused dating world, people are doing a lot of judging books by covers. Usually our standards for beauty are based off what we see over and over again in films, movies, television, and magazines. Unfortunately, what is considered "beautiful" is often being thin.

Being more attractive is a form of social currency and therefore power. It means, especially as a female, that you've got access to better potential mates. According to an article from Business Insider, it means you might even earn more money. 

2) You are "good" because you have "willpower."

In a world where calories in and calories out is the dialogue of diet culture, someone who has successfully lost weight shows great strength of character. If you can exercise more and eat less, you must be "good." I attempted to write a paper about this in college so I think it deserves more than a few sentences in my blog post (in fact, I recommend this piece by Sarah Yahm). Sticking to a diet constitutes being a moral person because you have not "succumbed" to the "gluttony."

3) You are capable of anything. It's the American Dream for the American body. 

Someone being skinny or being able to achieve a new body size is kind of a proof-of-concept (more on this coming soon) for the rest of us that we too can become "skinny."It tells us that we are capable and reinforces the moral imperative to be "good" with food and exercise so we too can achieve the ideal body. 

Unfortunately, the downside of this belief is that it reinforces the idea that fat shaming and discrimination are okay because we have these people who have "overcome" their obesity or overweight-ness. So, people who can't get a handle on it basically deserve the treatment that they get.  

All this to say that weight discrimination is not really fair:

 Attractiveness  shouldn't be based off what a bunch of suits at magazine and television companies think is attractive. Also, why not just have more diverse bodies represented in the media anyway? This would solve a lot of problems. 

If you've been reading this blog, you know that diets don't work. Willpower doesn't work. Your body is too smart to let you starve it without figuring out how to compensate. 

If diets don't work, it's not really fair to believe that any kind of body you might want is achievable. It's especially not fair to treat other people differently if their bodies don't look like the bodies you saw while watching Hulu last night.


In the comments, let me know the reasons that weight loss appeals to you or if any of these really resonate with you. 


PS — my girl Isabel Foxen Duke just put out an amazing free video training series about emotional eating, binge-eating and generally “feeling crazy around food.” Ya know, like thinking about food and dieting all day long, only to end up with your fingers in a jar of peanut butter that evening. If “feeling crazy around food and weight” is a sentiment you relate to, I highly encourage you to sign up for her free training here

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