Dear Thin-Ideal: Goodbye & Good Riddance!

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How one woman ended her unhealthy relationship with the “mean girl” in her head.

The thin-ideal, as you may know, is a perspective of what the ‘perfect’ body type is. This perspective is cast upon us by society. We’re told through the media that if you have that body then you’re (fill in the blank) – worthy, acceptable, smart, pretty, etc. But if you don’t…well…then you’re not.

Where the Thin-Ideal Comes From

What happens for many, if not most, is we believe society’s message and do whatever we need to do to get to that body. That usually looks like intense restriction of food or dieting, excessive exercising, sometimes delving into disordered eating.

And when our measures fail, which for 95% of people it does, we feel worse; we wait a bit, try again. And the cycle continues…the only thing lost is our sense of self-worth and usually all that’s gained is a sense of failure, and often times weight.

It all starts with striving for the thin-ideal that society puts upon us.  

How The Vicious Cycle Perpetuates

When it comes to emotional and binge eating, one function of the eating is to use food to numb feelings of shame, loathing, and failure. We don’t feel is were distracted with eating, and depending on how much is eaten, the numbness continues for a little while, until we ‘come to’ and the sense of shame, loathing, and failure are bigger.

This thin-ideal becomes sort of a ‘mean-girl’ in our heads. Feeding us messages of failure and loathing: “you failed again”, “you’ll never get this”, “look at you, you’re so (add mean body-adjective)”, etc. etc., etc. She chatters in our minds so much and for so long, we start to believe her. This is a classic bad, unhealthy, destructive relationship.  


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Letting Go of Your Inner ‘Mean Girl’

A big part of healing, is ‘breaking up’ with that ‘mean girl’. We can have compassion for her, understanding why she may be doing this…motivation maybe? Concern for health perhaps?

But as we know, criticism does not equate to care, nor does it motivate. So healing requires letting her go and changing that inner voice.   

Below is a letter written by a brave woman who broke up with her thin-ideal as a beginning step to change the inner voice to a more compassionate, caring one:

Dear Thin Ideal,

While I’ve been loyal to you for about 40 years now, it’s time for us to part ways.

This isn’t easy. I have loved you. I have loved the idea of some day, some how, meeting your needs. And all that I imagined that would bring me. Love, admiration, power, choice, appreciation, connection, respect. Happiness, for God’s sake. As I enter my 50s, I’ve decided that it isn’t working out. Maybe if I could’ve done what you asked of me, I would have more of all those things. But I don’t think so. I think it’s a mirage.

My new thing is a healthy ideal – which is me, taking care of myself, tuning in to myself, and honoring and trusting my hunger, my body and my needs. And trusting that when I do, that, in turn, will nurture me and keep me well and at the healthy place I’m meant to be.

I guess I’m giving up the fantasy of what could be, and hoping and pseudo-praying that what is, if imperfect, is going to be a lot better.

I’ll miss you. I’ll miss the daydreams of what if’s. You’ve caused me so much pain: a perpetual sense of being both too much and not enough; of being ugly and unloveable; of having to reduce myself to fit in. Of not being present because it was too painful. All that I won’t miss.

I may still pick up the phone and try to call you every once in awhile, but I will hang up before we ever make contact.

Thanks for the dreams. Please don’t try to contact me.

-Signed

P.S. Diet mentality got the same letter. You two should talk.

 

So if the thin-ideal has occupied your thinking in the form of an inner mean-girl, consider a break-up and start by writing her a letter and begin to #BeHerNow. Sign up for our free email series to stop waiting and start living.


2 responses to “Dear Thin-Ideal: Goodbye & Good Riddance!”

  1. Charla Wallace says:

    Shari: Thanks so much for this blog. I just remember being so “cute” when I was slimmer, and I could get clothes galore that looked fabulous on me. Oh well, I’m me and need to accept me as I am. I have done fairly well with eating mindfully and when I start to gore myself I think, “wait, I really like the taste of this, slow down and enjoy it for what it is and actually TASTE it. That happened yesterday with Hershey Deluxe Kisses. I stopped eating them after that cause I finally let myself enjoy one. ANYWAY, I gained so much from my stays in Vermont and Colorado and really got into the program. I appreciate keeping up with our common struggles with image and body via the blog.

  2. Shiri Macri says:

    Hi Charla,
    I’m so glad this was helpful. And I’m also so glad to hear you’re continuing to eat mindfully.
    Thanks for staying in touch. Take care of you,
    Shiri

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About the Author

Shiri Macri, MA, LCMHC

Since 2004, Shiri’s approach as a therapist for treating binge and emotional eating is holistic, focusing not only on the presented issue at hand, but also considering overall health. Working in this way, often includes mindfulness based approaches. Now as a trained MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) teacher, Shiri’s love of mindfulness and meditation practices are at the forefront of her blog writings and recordings. Shiri is the Lead Therapist at the Women's Center for Binge & Emotional Eating, affiliated with Green Mountain at Fox Run.

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