Early in life I learned that I didn’t have a waist, that my torso was too chunky, and that I had a tendency to be fat.
In a country like Colombia, where having a waist and a long torso are a symbol of femininity, these weren’t good news.
I only wore loose clothes, feared bread and chocolate (even though I loved them), and wore a tight rubber band around my waist in the hope of shrinking my torso. I was around 10 years old.
I don’t feel ashamed of sharing this story anymore. I now know I’m not the only one and that I’m not weird. Millions of women around the world feel defective everyday — regardless of our color, shape, body size, or education level.
Body dissatisfaction is pervasive. Negative feelings about my body shape and size determined the way I experienced food, how I carried myself in the world and who I was as a woman. For some (women and men alike) this is a mild obsession, for others it could turn into an eating disorder, like it happened to me. No matter how intense the dissatisfaction, being at war with your body makes life hard and sad.
Fortunately, after years of working on it, I discovered there is only one solution.
The steps I took to get the waist I wanted
My body dissatisfaction dictated what I ate, what I wore, who I dated, my mood, or how much I exercised.
It took me 20 years to understand that my body dissatisfaction didn’t come from my chunky waist, but from my focused and stubborn efforts to change my body into what I thought it was supposed to look like. I wanted reality to match the ideas in my head.
Fighting the unchangeable
The most powerful mindset shift came from getting that I was fighting genetics and biology. The American poet Stephen Levine explained it perfectly when he said “hell is wanting to be somewhere different from where you are”.
Today, my torso is still short and I’m 5.1.
The difference is that today my body shape and size no longer determine whether I’m satisfied with life or not.
I’ve accepted that this is the body I’ll live in until I die. I choose to take care of it as best as I can, for me. Not for others.
Yes, there are things we can change. I don’t necessarily believe it’s wrong to want to change our body. But (a big but) before we try, we must answer how, why and, most importantly, can we?
Every time I disqualify something from my body, I remember that suffering comes from the resistance to accept reality, not from reality itself.
Every day I commit to accept my body the way it is now. Some days I love it. Others I just accept it, and that is fine with me.
I like Linda Bacon’s words: “You have one body and despite how well you live life, it may never change. Can you afford to hate yourself for the rest of your life?”
I couldn’t. Can you?
Learn about other breakthroughs and lessons learned from making peace with food here.
Written by Lina Salazar.