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Anatomy of a Bad Body Week

  1. Thank you so much for this. I’m just beginning my journey with the non-diet mentality, and I have bad body days frequently. Today I was having a good body day until I realized that my new bra was a tiny bit tight – and from there I spun out of orbit. Yesterday I made the mistake of stepping on the scale for the first time in months, and my morning was ruined until I made a decision to spend the rest of the day doing something I really wanted to do ( it turned out that I wanted to spend the afternoon baking bread and preparing an elaborate and very tasty dinner!) I like your observation that “I didn’t need to go on a diet to cure my bad feelings; I just had to sit with them for a while and be good to myself.” After 46 years of being told, and telling myself, that my body is a problem that needs to be fixed, it’s not likely I’m going to cast off those thoughts all at once! I’m going to take a nap and play some Candy Crush, and maybe later I’ll feel like doing some yoga and fully inhabiting my body. Or maybe I’ll watch five straight hours of Netflix. Whatever makes me feel cared for.

    • GlenysO says:

      Yes! Siobhan, it’s so wonderful that you’re having these realizations so early in your non-diet journey! I also have some bras that send me down that rabbit hole…I’m forgoing them more often than not these days in this horrible heat! LOL

  2. Victoria says:

    I really like this post I recently experienced a few bad body days and could feel my inner critic tempting me with diet thoughts even though it is a futile endeavour nowadays. One thing I’ve found that really helps me is to read up factual articles (such as your own) about weight set point and the metabolic dangers associated with dieting. Also, reading loads of bopo blogs and scrolling through lots of body positive instagram accounts helps too

    • GlenysO says:

      Those are exactly the things to do – surround yourself with bopo and non-diet goodness. Have you read Traci Mann’s book? That is some serious science around weight regulation. Really affirms what we in the HAES community are doing.

  3. This post totally speaks to me! The last couple of weeks have been especially rough as far as my body image but I know I just need to stick it out. At one point or another during my eating disorder recovery, I had a realization about each of the things you brought up in this post so I love seeing them all written out in an organized manner. It stands as a nice reminder that others are going through the same thing but we can get through it. Thanks for posting!

  4. When I saw the picture, I thought you were on vacation in a beautiful setting and having the time of your life. I was jealous. Then I read the post and felt a little sad for you.

    I started thinking about how the new school year is rapidly approaching, how 80 freshmen in college will be in my care, hoping to unravel the mysteries of writing during three hours each week. I know I will have a massive panic attack the first day when I try to dress myself, despite having picked out the outfit the night before.

    The first day of school outfit is actually quite important; if a teacher is too relaxed, students settle their behavior and expectations at an undesirably low bar, making it easy for them to feel little to no respect for the teacher as things fall apart. It’s worse for women and younger people. Men can get away with jeans and their favorite Hawaiian shirt and be respected, as I’ve seen at a few institutions.

    But if you start on day one very strictly and dress like the most professional of professionals, students are a bit intimidated (in a healthy way) and understand that you have expectations and mean business. It’s then easier to lower the strictness bit by bit (but NEVER the other way around; that’s nearly impossible). All this from one outfit.

    So, as I stand up there and teach, I know that I will, like all 18 semesters before, sweat… Sweat in a way that I feel it running down the curve in the middle of my back. I will wish I had an industrial grade fan in a room that isn’t all that warm.

    Before I even get to school, I will be unable to choose a pair of shoes. I will put on the outfit I chose and change it — again and again, which also means changing into the correct matching undergarments, hosiery, etc, which makes me get sweaty and my hair frizzier and frizzier. I’ll get into class and ramble a bit, wondering why I must read the syllabus aloud when my students surely can read. I try to add extra notes to make the syllabus more meaningful, such as pointing out places of extreme importance. But they won’t take note, because they don’t know they’re supposed to.

    And I will come home feeling like the worst body ever.

    • Oh, I so get this! I’m also a college teacher and, having put on ten pounds over the summer, I am rebuilding my first-weeks-of-school wardrobe very carefully. I can’t help but resent the fact that I really want to look like Katherine Hepburn in a button-up shirt and chic blazer, but instead have to settle on something that will stretch, not gape, and somehow turn my lumpy-hourglass figure into something tidy, professional-looking and desexualized. Loving my body while preparing to present myself in front of a classroom is one of my greatest challenges.

      • I’m not even so much worried about the shape of my body (you mention your “lumpy-hourglass figure”) so much as does it all come together to look authoritative. It’s harder to look authoritative when you are fat, but once that first day is over, I’m fine again.

        • GlenysO says:

          One thing I’ve been exploring lately is this idea of “female empowerment” vs having actual power. And I think, if we can’t just chose the clothes we want and still expect that at the head of the class we will have authority that is due to the head of the class, then we still don’t have any power. I guess what I’m thinking is, will the clothing make that much difference? Is there a different way to exercise your authority to the students while getting to honor the clothes that would make you feel happiest and most comfortable? I know it’s a tough question and sometimes we are trapped into these double standards whether we want to be or not. Smash the patriarchy!

          PS – I’d love to know what Virgie Tovar thinks on this issue and how she deals with this. She teaches and she’s got a wild, wonderful wardrobe.

          • This is definitely a feminist issue, but a male colleague of mine (white, middle-aged) also recently decided to wear suits in the classroom instead of jeans because he found the difference in the way students responded to him to be remarkable. I think it’s particularly an issue when dealing with young adults (first-year college students, for example), some of whom are struggling with and challenging the boundaries of authority. Clothes are not everything, but I think they have an impact, and the impact for women is disproportionately large.

          • The clothes thing is advice I’ve received from graduate advisors about classroom management rather than a personal idea. It’s proven true, to be honest. I’d give several examples if I weren’t typing on a cell phone.

          • GlenysO says:

            Oh I believe it 100%, it just sucks that it’s still very rooted in sexism. As you said before, it matters more for women than it does for men. Just because a thing is proven, doesn’t mean it’s not sexist or completely sucks. I do sort of love California for the personal freedom instructors tend to exhibit, though again, I’ve seen that more for men than women.

    • GlenysO says:

      Oh wow – I’m not sure I’d survive in an environment where my clothing is so important! My strategy is usually to act so weird it distracts from clothing – haha. I also agree that men don’t get judged on clothing so much as women, and it’s a shame we have that double standard. I’m committed to not living by any double standards so I’d have to deal with my students thinking I’m kind of nutty simply based on what I’m wearing! I hope you’ll treat yourself well on that very tough day!! Best of luck!

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