Last night I read Caralyn’s Awarness VS Understanding with an ear toward listening, understanding.
I’ve been aware of anorexia, and bulimia since Cynthia Gibb played Karen Carpenter in The Karen Carpenter Story. Caralyn’s blog, Beauty Beyond Bones, where she shares her experience with anorexia is a beginning to understanding these serious disorders, how they effect the person, and their family.
All over our media there is an idealized body type, tall, thin, long, with just the perfect perky boobs, a great smile – teeth aligned and gleaming white, blond, blue eyed, you get the drift. Very few women (and men) can achieve the ideal size, whatever that is, and both the media, and society have taken it upon themselves to shame in some way. During the winter months there is an uptick in commercials for any number of weight loss systems, the top ten tips for not gaining weight with all the indulgent eating during the holidays. And as new year approaches “let’s get ready for our bikini bodies”.
I’ve been guilty of thinking, and probably saying, “give this woman a cheeseburger” when seeing a woman who is so thin it causes me to perceive ill health. And sometimes my kindness filter takes a walk at the most inappropriate times, much to my chagrin. And by the same token I can almost hear people saying things like, “she can afford to miss a meal or two” or “this or that diet would make such a huge difference” or “she should stop eating _________________ (insert favorite fad here)” about me.
We are all fearfully and wonderfully made.
Someone with anorexia, or bulimia needs our compassion, as does someone who is obese. We all know deep down that shaming doesn’t really work. I keep thinking of Jesus speaking with the woman at the well, and then speaking with Mary Magdalene – at no point in these conversations does he shame these women. Then I think about Jesus getting angry with the money changers in the Temple. Not once does he shame any of them, tell them they are horrible. Change their behavior yes, but shame them, no.
When I teach quilting I approach “mistakes” in a multi-faceted way:
= we’re all learning and practicing this is a time and space to make mistakes to grow from them
= if you can’t see the flaws from ten miles away on a galloping horse – let it go
= is this something we can fix, i.e. tension, speed, needle change, color change
= reminders of patience, and kindness as we’re learning
– and I show my early quilts because I started somewhere too, and to give hope that with some work
Anyway back to our regularly scheduled program. Some years ago I would say that I’m a short, fat, quilter much to the annoyance of those to whom this was said.
I am short, never made it over 5′ 1/2”
I am fat. I don’t eat nearly as much as one might think. Dieting has not resulted sustained weight loss – no matter how much I work out. And the weight gain is irritating.
I am a quilter. This is one place in life where I am the most confident and the least secure. Weird? No, not really.
In saying that I’m a short, fat, quilter it means that, at least to some degree, I have accepted myself for where I am in this present moment. This is a gift in and of itself. That said, there is a struggle to be a better quilter, a better wife, a better friend, a better human being all the way around. There is a struggle to keep the negative voices at bay when I see other quilters achieving that I’ve thought that I want. Then I remember God has me in this moment, right here, right now and living in it is important.
Awareness is knowing something exists
Understanding is knowing with compassion
Eating Disorders exist. And the people with them need compassion, and understanding. As Caralyn points out there is an awareness week coming very soon. I’ll be reading her early blog posts to help with the deeper understanding of anorexia, learning how to be kinder, gentler, more compassionate.