As I work on this list of things I need to do, I never really thought that there would never be any other steps. Often my big step is reading more, but sometimes as the knowledge accumulates, a task of some kind takes form.
This was somewhat easier with one of the more recent books.
Beauty Sick: How the Cultural Obsession with Appearance Hurts Girls and Women by Renee Engeln, Harper Collins 2017.
The currency of it is really refreshing; I don't read books in their publication year that often. Even though a lot of the concepts aren't completely unfamiliar, some of the examples are really recent and fresh in memory, which is kind of cool.
Engeln is aware of the general familiarity, and it influenced the book in her desire to not simply do more hand-wringing. There is information on techniques that are working better, from something as simple as aerobics instructors focusing on strength and function instead of appearance when they are leading their classes.
There are also some interesting ideas from research by Eric Stice at the Oregon Research Institute on intervening with cognitive dissonance. In an attempt to help someone else struggling with body image, participants explain the dangers and costs and impossibility of trying to meet these ideals. That makes it harder for the participants to fall into that same thinking, because of the sense of hypocrisy.
I believe that looking out for others can do a lot to help us see ourselves more accurately, but I also know it is completely possible to somehow retain the thought that everyone is worthy of love and understanding except you. Those ideas are interesting, but not something I am working with now.
I am going to write a self-compassionate letter to my body. You can learn more about this at self-compassion.org
I will also be going through two questions: "What kind of person do you want to be?" and "How do you want this world to be different when you leave it?"
I will also be taking a beauty inventory. That means going over the time and money that I spend on beauty. Often this is a situation where someone might decide that certain practices are not worth the cost. I may decide to do a little more, just based on not doing much already.
For some of the other suggestions, I am not sure how to apply them.
· Be gentle with yourself - I can try and remember that more. There are certainly times when I am worse than others, but I don't have a concrete idea in mind for how to achieve it. Sometimes the more abstract concepts get applied as I work on other things, so that is not a worry yet.
· Move toward thinking about your body as something that does instead of something that appears - There could be another journal session here. Actually, even just after reading I remember correcting some things my sisters were saying, because we do have some good physical abilities, regardless of size. That goes along with...
· Watch your words - I have already gotten a lot better at this.
· Mind your media - I feel like I do pretty well here. I know that a lot of it is subliminal, but I do limit my media intake and I have a lot of awareness because of what I have read.
· Vote with your wallet - An empty wallet could seem like an obstacle here, but I am generally low consumption and unaware of advertising, making me the worst person to speak via boycott. That may be an area for change, but it doesn't feel like a priority at this time.
Anyway, those are some of the things that I am working on.
There is also a vague feeling that someday a crucial step will be trying dating again, and I hope if that does arrive I can feel something more enthusiastic than "Oh, barf."