Oh late 90s music, where have you gone?
Fiona Apple found her way onto my iTunes playlist recently and I forgotten how hauntingly gorgeous her music is. Someone that can make you both want to lay in a hammock while sipping on the most caffeinated coffee you can find on this side of the planet. It’s a mix of chillaxin’ while having your mind run a mile a minute. What a dichotomy.
As I do with all things (from pistachios to music artists to countries), I looked her up on Wikipedia. And once I did, I discovered that Fiona once had an eating disorder, possibly stemming from experiencing childhood rape. It then dawned on me that this is not at all new: young girls who experience trauma and having it manifest itself in some sort of addiction, depression or eating disorder…or even all of the above.
In a discussion about happiness, my co-worker once told me that she thought if she was just the right size and the right weight, then she’d finally be happy. She did, finally, come to the realization that it’s a big fat (no pun intended) lie that once our ideal body image is reached, we will be perfectly at bliss. I admire her acceptance of the way God created her — she’s not a skeleton or size 000 runway model, but she is definitely one of the most beautiful women in my office, both inside and out. I admire her relationship with food and exercise: being wise about healthy choices and portion control while also giving herself the freedom to enjoy food and not be driven by guilt to hit the treadmill.
I wish more women could gain this perspective about themselves. Having grown up underweight for most of my pre-adolescent years, I have always been good friends with food and I have never worried about being overweight. But, it scares me how quickly I can pick up the voices of girls around me, freaking out about calories, about their muffin tops or about the number the scale reads to them. Imagine how much more of an influence those voices have on women who genuinely struggle with their body image.
At the end of the day, it’s an issue of inner self-worth. If Fiona’s eating disorder was a result of childhood trauma, how likely are numerous girls struggling with body image because of their lack of self esteem, lack of nurturing parents, lack of supportive people in their life or understanding of true love? Maybe instead of pouring nutritional facts into the minds of young women or flooding their Pinterest boards with sexy svelte thin beauties, we should be empowering women to find their identity and self-worth in something much more lasting.
Unfortunately, it’s going to take a lot more than positive affirmation and encouraging phrases. The way society views and values women is going to have to change. We just need to know where to start.