Posted on February 21, 2015 by Dr. Deah“A Bee in my Bonnet,” we talked about the buzzing of the obsessive mind as it relates to body hatred and weight obsession. In part 2, “Buzz Off: Tackling the Buzz Kill,” we learned about quieting the buzzing and finding room to let in other thoughts and feelings about our bodies. In part 3, “The Bee’s Knees” we re-unite with Cora as we explore the idea of body positivity and appreciation. The expression “bee’s knees” has been around since the early 1900’s and there are many theories as to its origin and meaning. The most common meaning is that when you say something is, “the bee’s knees,” you are expressing admiration for something that is of the highest quality. One of the reasons for this is that bees have sacs on their legs and use them to carry pollen back to the beehive in order to make honey. As our Walkie Talkies continued, Cora spoke a great deal about her body hate, her rituals with food, and her obsession about her weight. There were “aha moments” of discovery sometimes followed by walking in silence after a particularly old and forgotten fossil was uncovered. We also explored all of the societal and familial factors that reinforced the perpetuation of the self-hate of her body and inability to appreciate that she was the bee's knees!
We always walked around The Lake in the same direction and by doing so we were, in a sense, creating a parallel process as we talked about the repetitive cycle of dieting; the endless loop of the weight cycling process that feels unbreakable and eternal. But concurrently, Cora was also seeing how the loop eclipsed so many other aspects of her life. As she slowly learned how to appreciate her body as an intricate part of her unique being, she became more aware of the ecosystem of birds, people, trees, and flowers that were surrounding us during our walks.One of the benefits of doing Therapeutic Recreation outdoors is access to nature. Now hold on to your hats, I am going to get a bit corny right now and maybe a bit too woo woo for some of you, but hear me out…The ”buzzing in our bonnets” can sometimes define us and define our world. When we are running on body hate as our fuel we are preoccupied with thoughts about what I ate, what I am going to eat, what I can eat, what I can’t eat, what I look like, what I want to look like, why I don’t look like I’m supposed to look, how much I weigh, how much I used to weigh, how much I want to weigh....reload and repeat. Our world becomes very small. Now here comes the woo woo part....
When we take some time to be out in nature we can access a larger perspective.
That wasn't so bad was it??
Now, please, don’t think I am saying you need to go backpacking in the Sierras or take a ramble in The Outback Down Under. Nature can be found by sitting on top of a hill in the middle of a city and looking around you, or in a park, a backyard or merely changing up the route you take walking to work or driving to pick-up your kid from school. What's important is interrupting the loop and noticing that the world is bigger than our obsessive minds and self-loathing. So it did not surprise me when one day, at the beginning of a session, Cora asked if we could walk in the opposite direction. This has never been an intentional part of my “session plans” for Walkie Talkies. It does, however, seem to occur organically with all of my clients when they are ready to take more control over the direction they are taking in their lives and break some unconscious repetitive behaviors and thoughts.Changing directions opens up new perspectives and if we are paying attention, we will see things that we may have missed even though we are basically still in the same exact environment. Needless to say, our walk lasted longer the first time we switched directions. We giggled each time Cora pointed at something and asked, "Has that always been there?" Inside I was bursting with gratitude at how blessed I am to have access to a lake in the middle of an urban setting to do my work. Every session offers my clients and me a chance to challenge the memes of beauty and weight stigma that are being drummed into our heads from all directions. Exhibit A: This pelican was hanging out at The Lake the other day. Now, it would be arrogant of me to assume that I know what any animal may really be thinking. Anything I come up with would be pure projection…but my hunch is that this pelican was NOT ruminating about the bump on his nose making him look uglier than the other pelicans. This guy was strutting his stuff to all who would notice…and many did. People stopped in their tracks, disregarded their fit-bits, forgot about timing their miles and counting calories burned, in order to appreciate the grandeur of this bird and his fabulous feet! Exhibit B: This heron is not, I would imagine, wishing she was bluer, or taller, or different in any way. She is just being a heron. Exhibit C: These lemons have NO idea that they look like gigantic testicles on a tree. They are just being lemons. And don’t get me started on the geese!! (Click here if you want to read about the geese). The diversity we find in nature is expansive and typically greeted by humans with oohs and ahhs of appreciation and without negative judgement. Why then is it so difficult to apply that same acceptance and awe to the wonderful variety and vast array of shapes, sizes, skin-color, hair-color, etc. that humans come in? And what better place to start than by accepting and loving ourselves? In the Off-Broadway Play, Leftovers, The Ups and Downs of a Compulsive Eater one of the fat actresses in the show comes to a place of self-acceptance. She looks in the mirror and lovingly says,
“There are many beautiful flowers in the garden. I’m just a large flower.”Now THAT is the bee's knees!!! Til next time, Dr. Deah P.S. DATES to REMEMBER!!!! February 14-28th: I will be one of 32 speakers participating in a two week webinar series called, Brave Body Love organized by Michelle Hess. Bringing Women from All Over the Globe Together in an Epic Online Event to Awaken Our Collective Feminine Power and discuss body image. CLICK HERE