One of my favorite things about the work I do is when people tell me that they finally “get it” that the world is messed up, but they are fine, and they always have been. Sometimes I get e-mails from people who have had the revelation reading my blog or book, and the blogs and books of others who do this work, sometimes I get to see it happening while I give a talk – they get that surprised, happy look in their eyes, they start to nod their heads more and more vigorously, they snap, or clap or say “Yeah!” when I point out that convincing us to hate our bodies from as early an age as possible is incredibly profitable in this culture, and that the beauty and diet industries are experts at it. While I’m always happy to see this, I also know that they are in a very precarious position.
I know that as soon as they click off my blog, close my book, or leave my talk, they are going to be bombarded with advertising that is custom-designed to make them forget everything that they just realized and go back to their old, ingrained habits of negative body talk and self-loathing.
So I try to give people activities that they can do to remember and reinforce what they just realized. And one of those activities is to create a simple mantra that they can use when those tired old messages about self-loathing come at them. My personal mantra is “Hey, that’s bullshit!” but that’s just me, people choose lots of other things. I just had someone e-mail me that after my talk at IvyQ at Cornell he had decided his mantra would be “Nope Nope Nope” and that it’s been working great.
I also suggest that people come up with a visual, whether it’s a Star Wars Reference “These are not the body image messages you are looking for.” or picturing themselves blocking the messages like Neo in the Matrix. Then I saw this cat gif and it occurs to me that it is exactly how I picture myself dealing with the messages that come at me from the diet and beauty industries, and so I share it with you in case it’s helpful. Imagine, if you will, that you are the cat, the dresser is your world, and the things being put onto the dresser are messages created by the diet and beauty industry to make us hate our bodies:
Regardless of how you do it, if you want to opt out of a culture that encourages self-loathing and body hate (for profit!) it’s helpful to have a strategy for how you’re going to deal with those messages when you encounter them each and every day. I say, let “Fuck That Kitty” be our guide!
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