Lady Mary recently recommended (in response to Fighting) a short book called Be Less Crazy About Your Body. It’s by a hilarious writer named Megan Dietz, and the Kindle version is only $2.99, and Kindle books cost pretend money anyway (wheeeee credit card bill!), so I bought that sucker right up. I love pretty much everything about it. It took me fewer than two commutes to finish, and I was nodding in recognition the whole time. She has lots of stories, wisecracks, examples, and helpful tips for, as the title says, being less crazy about our bodies. Because y’all? We’re kind of crazy about our bodies.
I’m not talking about body-focused people like athletes who are training or conditioning, or unhealthy eaters (sigh, hello, my name is Sweets, and sometimes I eat dessert for breakfast) who decide to make healthier eating choices. I’m talking about when we accept the crazy thoughts our brains churn out as absolute and unyielding truths, and then lock those crazy thoughts into a pattern of permanence.
Like, here’s an example. For some reason it’s socially acceptable, nay, expected, for women to talk shit about their bodies. Now, if we’re Ladies, we know not to shit-talk other women’s bodies (if you can’t say something nice, etc., which logically we should apply to ourselves, but we never do). So we decide the only alternative is to talk shit about our own bodies. It becomes a security blanket, a crutch, a social lubricant as appealing as any alcoholic beverage. Meeting new ladies in a group? Want to tell one of them you like her dress/hair/shoes? Be sure to add “I wish I had your/I hate my” so everyone is reassured that you don’t actually feel good about yourself. Then the other party is free to respond “What, are you kidding me? I need to lose 1000 pounds and my hair is gross.” As Megan says, “Girls, girls, don’t fight, you’re both revolting.”
Guess what? Every time you give voice to one of these crazy thoughts about your body, you’re strengthening the crazy. Confirming it. Encouraging it. En-truthening it, instead of recognizing it for the crazy talk it is. Brains churn out crazy, y’all. The trick is learning to recognize when your brain has made a crazy thought, and when it has made a logical deduction based on evidence and fact (the Science of Deduction! What Would Sherlock Do?),
or when it has created a crazy thought that tries to pass for truth. As Megan says:
. . . You need to apply some objectivity directly to the insanity. Ask yourself some questions to evaluate whether your thoughts are reflecting reality accurately or not . . .
- Do you look substantially different from what you looked like yesterday, when you felt fine?
- Remember the other day when you felt pretty? Can you imagine a time when you will feel pretty again in the future? If so, how can you be ugly now?
- Is it possible that, rather than being factually ugly, you are just having a bad morning?
- . . . Can you have your breakfast first, and decide whether or not you’re a troll later?
* * * * *
You don’t talk shit about other women’s bodies? You are a body-snark free zone? Excellent. Let’s eradicate some crazy.
The best way to kill the crazy is to question it, and then clear it out. “Perform a little light agriculture on your mind grapes,” to quote Megan, my new best friend. Break out of the familiar path the crazy thoughts like to run. Thoughts are creatures of habit, and sometimes you need to re-train them. Force them out of their familiar channels. So when you’re talking with your ladies, and someone compliments you, instead of saying “ugh, I just wish my X weren’t so Y” you say “thank you.” That’s it. You say “thank you”, like a goddamned Lady. Does it feel weird or uncomfortable? It still does for me sometimes. I was SO USED to adding qualifiers like “oh, thanks, but not really, I’m just so tired and gross today” or “eesh, I just pulled this out of the laundry hamper” or “thanks, I found it on eBay” or anything to reject or distract from that person’s compliment so that they wouldn’t think I felt good about myself, because feeling good about myself meant . . . um, something bad? So if it feels weird just to say “thank you”, don’t sweat it. You just changed a thought pattern! You just derailed the crazy train! And even better, you accepted a compliment that another Lady gave you, and in doing so you accepted HER. You did a good thing for you AND for another person.
Do you feel like you have to say something else, still, after that Thank You? Say ANYTHING else. Anything. Don’t get sucked into that “we’re both revolting” conversation spiral. Don’t talk about how you’re trying to lose weight or you just started this new diet or you’ve been doing this amazing new gym routine. (That shit is so boring. Seriously, no one cares about your diet or your gym routine except for you, your doctor, and your trainer. There’s this one person at the office who sits in front of me, comes in, like, two days a week at 1:00 in the afternoon, leaves her door open, and spends her first two hours at work screaming into the phone at a friend all about how her workouts have gone that week, and how many reps she did. AHHH IT’S SO HORRIBLE.) Say anything else. Say, “Raisins are the worst.” Then the other party is free to respond “Come again?” “Seriously, raisins suck.” “Um, what about oatmeal raisin cook-“ “Oh, you mean the evil fuckers who pretend to be chocolate chip cookies? Get real.” BOOM. You just had a conversation that didn’t tear down anyone’s appearance, including your own! Excellent! Now maybe work on a normal person topic of conversation, like how you don’t understand people who say Villette is better than Jane Eyre, because Villette destroyed you, and not in the good way a heart-wrenching book should, and also Jane Eyre is seriously the best. Wait. Sorry. Um, maybe come up with your own normal person conversation.
Be Less Crazy About Your Body, by Megan Dietz
Available as a Kindle Book