Power Hungry Postscript: Super You

I received many comments regarding yesterday’s “Power Hungry” post. Several on Facebook, some directly e-mailed and even a couple of text messages. Today I got a request from a weight loss group to distribute it at their next meeting.

Nearly all these messages had two things in common: The theme (“OMG, me too!”) and the sender (female).

I knew there were lots of other people who struggle with control issues regarding their bodies, their personal lives and their careers. I knew most of them were women. What surprised me was how many women seem consciously tuned out to such struggles until something (like reading my post) splashes cold water on their faces and brings it into sudden focus.

I find it both comforting and disheartening that so many of us have this “food ticker” streaming through our brains, even though we know size doesn’t matter, nor does one’s status in life. As one friend said in an e-mail, “What’s silly is, I don’t remember being happy at a size 6. I never remember thinking, ‘Whew, I finally made it to the size I wanna be.’ And, I know I wasn’t content at size 3, either. I mean, I’ve watched enough episodes of ‘Oprah’ to know that feeling good about yourself comes from within.”

Yet we don’t, do we? Feel good about ourselves, I mean. Or we do on some levels but not all levels. There’s always something nagging, some “You’re not good enough” taunt we try to ignore with diets and self loathing. (Hell, Oprah can’t even listen to Oprah.) There’s a glut of rhetoric out there about this topic, and I don’t have much insight to add beyond what I wrote yesterday.

My 4-year-old nephew wears a cape and cowboy boots nearly every day. It matters not whether they’re headed to the playground or pool or out to dinner. The kid lives in that cape and boots, and it’s obvious how strong and capable — invincible even — they make him feel.

He also has had a string of illnesses and allergy problems since he was born, and struggles with a speech delay that has made it extremely difficult for him to effectively communicate.

Does he wear the cape to overcompensate for the loss of control he feels when he’s sitting in yet another doctor’s office, or hearing yet another adult or child say to him, “What? Say it again? I don’t understand you.” Who knows. Probably not. They might just be the whimsical uniform of a 4-year-old boy.

But there’s no denying how confident he is with that cape secured around his neck, as he flashes his biceps at me before smiling and dashing off.

So my advice to anyone struggling with control issues is this: Find your cape. Find whatever non-toxic thing makes you feel powerful. For me, it seems to be the conscious recognition and use of choices (the power to choose), mixed with a healthy dose of giving more instead of worrying that I might be getting less. For you it might be training for a triathlon; or reliving the birth of your child; or finding an enticing recipe from one of your “healthy” cookbooks the moment the craving for Oreos hits.

Whatever it is, when you find your cape wear it — every day, everywhere. Trust me, it matches every outfit (cowboy boots optional).

What's the perfect complement to S'mores? A cute kid in a cape, of course!


Tara @ Feels like home said...

That's exactly the problem. I wonder if there's any woman in this entire country (world?!?) who doesn't have "You're not good enough" playing in her head? And how does being obsessed with our food intake fix it?

=) said...

For a grad class I had to read the book Reviving Ophelia. It was amazing some of the insight into our messed up heads. Then I read a book compiled by a teen girl in response called "Ophelia Speaks" It is stories and poetry from young women on a variety or topics. The chapter on food issues is one that has stuck with me for years!