Double dog dare

While fully acknowledging its potential for creating an international incident, I urge you to take The Rotund’s dare today:

I challenge you – no matter what your stance on the whole anti-dieting debate – to go a full day without saying anything negative about your body to another person. Don’t discuss your thighs or your plans for when you lose that final ten pounds. If someone compliments you, don’t casually put yourself down.

You know the proper response when someone says something nice to you? It’s “Thank you.”

Do your best not to look at your body and think negative things. This one is a little harder because we get into habits of thoughts but give it a try. If you find yourself having a negative thought about your body, stop and replace it with something positive. And I don’t mean a weasely kind of positive like, “Well, I guess my skin is okay.” No, make it something fierce and positive and really mean it.

Don’t get a salad for lunch unless you really want one and don’t assign moral value to food.

If other people are talking about their bodies in a negative way, change the subject.

Give this a try, a real try just for today. Then tell me about it. In the meantime, spread this around! Share it with your friends. Work together to think and say only positive things about your body and food today.

It seemed like many people in The Great Diet Debate expressed the feeling that they could get behind body positivity for everyone else but not for themselves. I don’t know how many of our readers are women, but I suspect this type of self-denial is especially common among those of us with two X chromosomes. Women in our culture are taught all of our lives to put ourselves last, to sacrifice our comfort and well-being for the sake of our children or our partners or our colleagues. It’s so easy to translate that mindset into hating our bodies: “Oh, you look beautiful, but I need to [lose 10 pounds / eat only celery / be punished].” I know the golden rule says that you should treat others as you’d want to be treated — that’s a pretty damn good rule of thumb, but you know what? Treat yourself as you want to be treated, too.

Start today.

25 thoughts on “Double dog dare

  1. “It seemed like many people in The Great Diet Debate expressed the feeling that they could get behind body positivity for everyone else but not for themselves.” That is EXACTLY where I am.

    as for the dare. . . well, I’ll try again tomorrow! :-)

  2. This is such a good idea… this is very much where I am too. I think, at the end of the day, I’m caught between this fear that, if I truly accept my body and stop obsessing about food, I’ll eat the entire world and be even fatter than I am, and the want to learn what kind of food my body wants and what food makes it feel good… because this is almost always something healthier than a burger and fries, part of me feels like my body is telling me to diet. But I don’t want to diet. And then I get confused and eat coffee ice cream with Whoppers on top.

    I’m not sure any of that made any sense.

  3. I’ve done an excellent job of this today…even showed off pics of myself from a recent vacation without making comments about myself in the photos.

  4. “I know the golden rule says that you should treat others as you’d want to be treated — that’s a pretty damn good rule of thumb, but you know what? Treat yourself as you want to be treated, too.”

    Oh, yes, ad inifinitum, baby.

    In that same vein, it might be helpful to read over Jean Kirkpatrick, Ph.D’s. (not the politician), “New Life” program, aka. “The 13 Steps,” from Women for Sobriety. To paraphrase Dr. K., Women for Sobrietry came about in part bacause she noticed that the traditional AA 12 Steps are designed primarily for white men, and just don’t work for women and minorities. Admitting you’re “powerless over alcohol” is not big deal if you’re supposed to be powerless to begin with. The 13 Steps are much more about restoring balance, reclaiming personal power. Applicable not only to alcoholism, but also body issues, feeling “out of control” with food, being female and breathing at the same time… ;-)

  5. Sweet Machine,

    I did read that post when she originally wrote it and *loved* it. I was trying to reference is in my comment, but messed up the wording (eating the world instead of devouring the world).

    I just re-read it, though… I think I might print it out and start sticking it all over my apartment. You guys are awesome. :o)

  6. Since I work from home, the not saying anything negative challenge is a breeze. What I have trouble with is looking in the mirror and focusing on what I like about my body, rather than what I dislike. (Tari, I want to be like you when I grow up.)

  7. Peggy, it’s a hard thing, there is no denying it. Making small steps is the key, I think. Really practice replacing negative body talk with positive body talk instead of just doing away with the negative – you have to fill the hold with something, right? The more you practice it, the easier it gets, even though it can take a while.

  8. “So it makes a lot of sense that maybe the best way to stop feeling as if you’re going to devour the WORLD is to actually go ahead and try to devour the world. Because the first thing you’ll realize is that you can’t. And the next thing you’ll realize is that you don’t really want to. And once you get to that point, you might actually have a prayer of understanding your own internal hunger cues.”

    (If I’m going to try devouring the world, can I make Godzilla noises at the same time? Anyway…)

    This might be a good way to start…

  9. Andrea, printing it out is an awesome idea. I think we should all print it out and paste it to bathrooms in libraries and coffeeshops — do some guerrilla activism! ;-)

    Kell, that is totally brilliant. We can have a ritualistic World Devouring.

  10. Really practice replacing negative body talk with positive body talk instead of just doing away with the negative – you have to fill the hold with something, right?

    It makes so much sense when you lay it out like that. I’m going to keep trying until I get the hang of it.

  11. (Just a note, Kate and co.: my internet is still half-down, but i am using sneaky workarounds – in case you’re wondering about the strange IP or referral page.)

    “Oh, you look beautiful, but I need to [lose 10 pounds / eat only celery / be punished].”

    I’ve known many a thin(ner) woman who’d say to me “Oh, i’m so fat! Look at my thighs/hips/calves/belly/hands*”. My retort would be anything from a silently raised eyebrow to “um, compared to…. (gestures at self)”. And yeah, the response was always “oh, you’re fine!i just don’t like myself at this weight.”

    That phrase is almost an exact quote, and from more than one person: I don’t like myself at this weight. And yeah, i’d challenge them on it, tell them that their worth as person was not defined by any numbers on a scale or a tape measure. I was less personally hurt by any undercurrent of them calling me fat (even indirectly), and more hurt that someone that i thought well of would think of themselves in such a harsh light, and with such a hideously arbitrary standard of measurement.

    Conversations like those are a large (ha ha) part of why i started blogging.

    Treat yourself as you want to be treated, too.

    Yes. Yes. YES YES YES. EXACTLY. THANK YOU.

    * – yes, i once had someone confess to me that she got mildly insecure because, while she is maybe 100 pounds soaking wet, she noticed that she and i have the same size hands. Never mind that i have disproportionally tiny hands (ring finger is a size 5 and a quarter) – she translated that as something wrong with HER hands. This upset me greatly.

  12. Such a great post! I like to think I’m SOOOO good about diffusing this kind of talk and not engaging it, but I can remember an incident only a few weeks ago: an older woman, who said she used to do makeovers, told me at a bus stop that I had “lovely skin” and didn’t even need to wear makeup…and I immediately pointed to a couple of little zits on my chin I was trying to camouflage!!

  13. I was just thinking to myself “but I did this yesterday” and then I remembered a couple of grimaces at the size of my chin in some wedding photos from the weekend (not my wedding I hasten to add). But overall yesterday I felt pretty good with myself. I’ll keep trying.

  14. Brilliant post and a brilliant point!

    Being at home mostly (I’m studying through Open Uni) I have no problem liking what I see in myself – I said to my partner the other day that the problem when I starved down to a stupidly thin size was that I felt sick looking at myself, even though I was getting all the “you look great” input.

    Now, I’m fat, curvy and I like it (as does my partner!). The problem is other people feeling they have the right to comment – I have studied on campus before, and was the “fat mature student wearing old lady trousers”….

    It’s strange and a sign of just how crazy society is, that even though I love my body, am confident with it and I like the way I dress (simple trousers and jeans with t-shirts or ethnic blouses), society feels it’s their right to walk up to me and say “But you can’t possibly be happy – you’re fat”.

  15. I am certain I can do one day. I’m pretty good, overall, about the languaging, about disengaging from other people’s conversations, and even about my viewpoints about food (fillerup with light cream in my coffee!)
    Now on to them body image thoughts…

  16. As an obese woman who is the mother of a recovering bulimic/anorectic (she happens to be in great shape now and living a healthy life), this was one of the first habits I had to learn to change. No matter how much I talked about beauty and health coming at all sizes, I was still role modeling loathing my own body. I wish I could have done it first for me, but love of my daughter taught me to stop the damn putting myself down, to accept compliments with the southern graciousness that I was taught and was teaching my daughter and to always make sure that we had enjoyable food in the house.

  17. I do my best to make it a practice not to say negative things about my body out loud. I don’t diet, and I avoid diet talk. But that doesn’t stop me from shuddering every time I look in the mirror. I love the *idea* of actually loving my body, but I’m not nearly there yet.

  18. It’s kinda funny that for the most part, I’m so wrapped up in books that I mostly live this. Then again, my merely thanking people for compliments comes from one comic in Queen of Wands that I read in middle school.

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