“Comparison is an act of violence against the self.” ~Iyanla Vanzant
I was wandering around the book store some time ago, taking my time to browse through the shelves of so many intriguing looking books, when a woman about my height and age caught my eye.
She seemed immersed in the book she was holding, oblivious to anyone around her.
I was glad, because I didn’t want her to catch me watching her.
You know how it is, when you look up and someone’s looking at you, you wonder if you’ve forgotten to do a button up or the feeling that you’re being judged in some way flashes through your mind.
I’m sure I didn’t stare at her for too many minutes, but within those moments I had a quick conversation with myself that shocked me.
Why would I even think to compare my weight, size, shape and how I looked to another women?
It was as if the car I was driving suddenly went on autopilot, taking me in a direction I knew I didn’t want to go in. I worked so hard to banish the very questions I found myself asking about whether my body was larger or smaller than hers, or whether I looked fatter, or whether I looked as attractive as she did.
Have you ever wondered why we engage in comparisons about our bodies and weight (or age, status, money, work, friends etc)?
It’s hard not to when we live in a society that promotes comparisons. The diet industry and culture we live in does an amazing job at inviting us to compare ourselves against each other, resulting in feelings of failure, of thinking we’re lesser-than, or engaging in diet behaviors that are restrictive and sometimes dangerous.
With thinness as the measure of beauty and happiness, girls from a young age, heed the message that their bodies need to be small to fit in and dieting is the gateway to ensuring a place at the table.
We grow up believing that unless we can be thin there is something inherently wrong with us and that we are somehow broken. We compare ourselves with others who appear to be successful on their weight loss journey and who seem to have it all together; they seem to have a permanent place at the table.
When we compare ourselves to others we end up focusing on what we don’t like about ourselves.
Comparisons around weight and size, no matter how big or small our bodies are, shift our attention away from accepting and caring for our bodies and selves.
When we zero in on someone else to determine whether we are ok or not, we give away our power and confidence.
Further, measuring our worth against a pre-determined measurement such as BMI or a number on the scale, and bowing to an industry that makes billions of dollars from people’s vulnerability and shame when dieting fails, we must ask ourselves, what’s wrong with this picture?
We know that yo-yo dieting, emotional eating, overeating, and all things disordered eating (not to mention eating disorders) result because we don't believe we are good enough and that no matter how hard we try, our bodies betray us in our fight to fit into unrealistic standards.
No wonder we compare ourselves to others.
Imagine for a moment a society that valued all bodies without judgement about size and weight?
Think about what it would be like if the diet industry changed its trajectory and stopped focusing on weight and the number on the scale?
What if they started promoting intuitive eating, mindfulness, meditation, creativity, movement, and brought back the desire to eat with love and enjoyment, without worrying about points or calories?
When we let go of external expectations about our weight and size and focus on what our bodies tell us we need, we begin to let go of all the comparisons we’ve spent so much time and energy on. Our bodies have a chance to settle at a weight that is natural for each of us.
The focus changes:
from doing what others want us to do, to doing what we want,
from giving away our power, to stepping into it,
from looking at others from a place of fear that they are better than us, to one of openness and self-acceptance, and finally,
from a place of judgement to compassion.
Tired of comparing yourself to others? Ready to step into your power?
I’d love to offer you a complimentary Join the Journey strategy call to talk about your personal journey to creating a healthy relationship with food and your body. There’s no need to travel alone and I’d be honored to connect with you to help you Love Your Body ~ Love Yourself.