March is Women’s History Month in the United States, an annual declared month that highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society.
And while we may look back in history and have gratitude for how far women have come, I can’t help but think about how much more we as women could accomplish if we weren’t still trapped in a prison.
An emotional/psychological prison of believing that unless our body looks a certain way, we won’t be healthy, happy, successful, loved, worthy, etc.
And so, as women, we devote significant life energy, time, and money in endless pursuit of shaping our bodies, instead of using those resources to develop, cultivate, and share our gifts … to live life!
In fact, at any one time, half of American women are on a diet.
Americans spend over $60 billion annually on diet programs and diet products. (That’s more than the GNP of many countries.)
We worry about food. We worry about weight. We weigh ourselves regularly. We are afraid of gaining. We don’t like our hips, our butt, our arms, you name it.
All that worry and negative thinking and fear saps our energy and keeps us in our prison.
And while the society we live in may have shaped the prison walls, we are the ones who keep ourselves behind the bars. The door isn’t locked. We are just too afraid to step outside. Or we don’t know how.
So instead, we invite others in.
We invite our friends, with whom we engage in body-bashing conversation, comparison, and with whom we share our latest falls off the wagon, and what particular wagon are we going to climb on this time.
We invite our daughters and granddaughters, who witness our behavior and want to be just like us. Did you know that by age 8, half of young girls have been on a diet, and 80% of teenage girls have dieted?
The prison is pretty crowded, with women and girls of all ages, sizes, shapes, and weights. Small and large, young and old, this prison doesn’t discriminate.
And while there’s a feeling of belonging among all the inmates — after all, misery loves company — it’s still a prison.
This March, this Women’s History Month, I invite you to step outside the prison.
Don’t weigh yourself for an entire month, or more. In fact, throw out your scale.
When you meet a young girl, tell her how smart and clever she is, without saying anything about her looks.
Stop classifying food as good or bad, or clean or dirty. Remove the morality from food. You are neither good nor bad for eating or not eating a particular food. Food is just food.
Take back your power. Step outside the door. Experience how amazing a life of freedom can be.
Don’t worry, if it’s too scary, you can always go back in.
But know that there are women out here waiting for you, women who can support you.
So when you are ready to step outside, seek them out. And close the door behind you.