Friday, December 19, 2014

My Final Paper on Self-Objectification and Social Media

Okay pals, here it is. Keep in mind, this is undergrad... and rushed as I always am. :] *Procrastination queen.*  Enjoy!



The Real “Thirst Trap”: Self-Objectification, Body-Comparison, and other
Weapons Against Women in Social Media

Warning: This document has triggering information for anyone with issues regarding eating, weight, body, or food. Images and language may be triggers.

            It is a well known fact in modern culture that mass media contributes to how we see the world and ourselves. Plenty of documentaries and articles have been written about the damage that the objectifying of women and unattainable ideals portrayed in advertising can do to the psyches of women of all ages (Newsom; Harper 649).  Magazines, TV commercials, and summer blockbusters--all perpetuate the image of one female body type, and one purpose for women to exist—to be looked at. When women are spoken of as “empowered” in the media, it is for their blatant sexuality, not for their intellectual accomplishments (Newsom).  As this standard permeates our culture, what are the casualties? And what about the ways we represent ourselves?  What lengths will girls go to for “likes” on Instagram, Facebook, and other social media?  Because the damage from mass media has been addressed frequently in research already, I’d like to address here a newer danger in media--social media, and the very real effects it has on the health and mental health of young women.  I will prove that social media is taking more time and attention of the public than any other form of media, and that women are particular susceptible to it. In addition, I will show how social media in particular, is creating a culture of increased body-comparison, body-dissatisfaction, and self-objectification in women. By linking these two points and illustrating a bit of lack of academic research in the area of social media and body image, I will demonstrate that more awareness on this topic is needed.
            Social media, as a relatively new part of our lives, has taken over fast and furiously.  Social media is “the use of dedicated websites and aplications to interact with other users, or to find people with similar interests to oneself.” (OED Online)
Facebook is the most popular social networking site (SNS), and was created only 10 years ago in 2004 (Wikipedia). Since then, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest, among others, have launched, and people are spending more time on social networking sites than on any other internet activity, including work, school, or email. This adds up to nearly 6 hours a day for men and 8 hours a day for women (Klein). It is clear that women are receiving more information through SNS, and are potentially more susceptible to any effects that might exist, due to more exposure.
            Previous conceptions were that young women were largely affected by images in mass media, such as actresses on TV, and models in magazines when it came to thoughts of body comparison and dissatisfaction. Recent studies have shown that young women are more likely to compare themselves and their bodies to those of their peers, girls at school and on social media.  Girls are internalizing images and talk from girls their own age and forming their body image and health habits from these images. A study done for the International Journal of Eating Disorders found that “adolescent girls reported comparing themselves with immediate friends and other girls at school more frequently than they compare themselves with models, actresses, or family members.” (Wertheim qtd in Stice 110) The truly scary thing about social media is that it comes home with teenage and young adult women when they come home from school—the comparison to other girls never stops. We are constantly online.
            The accessibility and pervasiveness of social media platforms create a dangerous cycle for young women. Because they see unrealistic ideals from birth, and insecurities become set in so early, young women can tend to turn to SNS for “inspiration” or validation for their insecurities, and end up trying to cure them in unhealthy and unproductive ways.  Pinterest, for example, is a social media platform where women can collect visual bookmarks (pins) from throughout the web, and organize them onto pinboards that share a theme. Of all social networking sites, Pinterest is the most overwhelmingly dominated by women; 90% of its users are female. (Klein) If women feel they need to lose a few pounds, they can find millions of ways through a simple search on Pinterest, adding them all to their “My Skinny Motivation” pinboard, for example.  Whether any of these ways are healthy or not, is a risk that might be taken.  Pins are not regulated, besides copyright holders being able to remove content with request (Pinterest.com; Wikipedia), and it is common knowledge that not everything on the Internet can be trusted as true.  In addition, if young women want to beat themselves up (as they are so use to doing) as a tactic to work out more and eat less, there are endless images of protruding clavicles and ribcages to be pinned to “Thinspo” boards. This is where things get scarier.
            “Thinspo” is short for “thinspiration.” These are not yet real words in the English language, but they are used rampantly in social networking communities, mostly by young women.  The definition is easy to infer from the words used to make up “thinspiration”—thin inspiration. This seems innocent enough, but a few searches of this term will show a darker side. To shed some light, the Urban Dictionary definition gives a clearer picture: “Thinspo is used by people suffering from eating disorders to help keep them inspired (to resist treatment)… Thinspo is usually of photos of skinny or bony celebrities or models. Ie: I look at thinspo of Mary-Kate every day to make sure I don’t binge.  (Urban Dictionary) When I googled thinspo, I found images of dangerously thin girls, superimposed with text reading things like, “Hungry to Bed, Hungry to Rise, Makes a Girl a Smaller Size,” and “Every time you say no to food, you say yes to thin.” (Google Images)  There were over 680,000 images of this nature.  Many originate from Pinterest, and another SNS, Tumblr.  When I searched thinspo from within Pinterest, the following notice is listed: “Eating disorders are not lifestyle choices, they are mental disorders that if left untreated can cause serious health problems or could even be life-threatening. For treatment referrals, information, and support, you can always contact the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237 or www.nationaleatingdisorders.org.” (Pinterest.com) Beneath the notice, there are the expected photos rail-thin girls, and hunger-cheering mantras.  While I don’t believe that these photos cause eating disorders, I do believe that photos like these contribute to disordered eating and can deepen some eating disorders, especially EDNOS or Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.  EDNOS is not anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa, which are the major dangerous eating disorders that we first learn about in school. EDNOS is characterized by food or calorie restriction, excessive dieting or exercise, fear of “unclean foods,” rapid weight loss, or bingeing or purging (perhaps both).  (Klein; nationaleationgdisorders.org) A person may have any or all of these symptoms, but not have them all together, and so no one notices.   They may also maintain a normal body weight because they restrict food for several days and then binge in secret.  Any of these habits are not healthy and deserve attention. (nationaleatingdisorders.org) These habits reflect an unhealthy body image that may be worsened as girls with depressive thoughts about themselves and their bodies delve deeper and deeper into “thinspirational” quotes and images on social media. The International Journal of Eating Disorders claims that the fact “that peer pressure to be thin apparently increases body dissatisfaction is alarming, because body dissatisfaction has emerged as one of the most potent risk factors for onset of eating pathology. (Stice qtd in Stice)
            The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) says on their website that 35-57% of adolescent girls engage in crash dieting, fasting, self-induced vomiting, diet pills, or laxatives. Those are scary numbers.  And all of those behaviors fall in line with symptoms of EDNOS. NEDA also lists that mortality rates are higher for EDNOS, than for other major eating disorders, at 5.2% for EDNOS, 4.0% for anorexia nervosa, and 3.9% for bulimia nervosa. If close to one half of teenage girls border on an unspecified eating disorder, with potentially the highest mortality rate of all disordered eating patterns, any contributing factors for disordered eating are worth looking into.
            In a study at the University of Strathclyde, Dr Petya Eckler found that although time spent on social networks does not cause eating disorders, it does contribute to increased negative body image. She found that “the more time women spend on Facebook, the more they compare their bodies with those of their friends, and the more they felt negative about their appearance.” (BBC.com) She added “These comparisons are much more relevant and may hit closer to home. Yet they may be just as unrealistic the images we see in traditional media.” (BBC.com) These images are just as unrealistic, due to filters, Photoshopping, and editing that is easily done with a swipe of a finger on a smart phone. Another study suggests that women are more depressed after looking at images of attractive people on social media, and in a better mood after looking at images of unattractive people. (Klein) This is due to the comparisons that women subconsciously make with the images against themselves.
The comparisons women subconsciously make and even seek out through SNS are also potentially more damaging than those targeted at men.  Through social media, women, and especially young women, begin to compare themselves to filtered, enhanced photos of friends, friends of friends, girls mainly in their age group, who seem to be always smiling, fashionable, traveling, happy, and put-together. I would argue that these kinds of images of “normal girls like me” can be more psychological detrimental than photos of faraway, though still aspirational celebrity bodies.  On social media, there is a tendency to put our best foot forward, only presenting what will receive the most “likes” and “re-tweets.”  No one posts pictures of themselves curled up on the couch depressed and eating cookies.  Everyone posts pictures of themselves on the beach with a spray tan, a Photoshop App, and a filter.  A teenage or college-age girl might start to internalize, “If that is what my classmate looks like on the weekend, what is wrong with me?” These internal messages will lead a girl to post and pose in photos of her own that will receive an increased amount of attention or “likes.” This may be the real demon in social media—self-objectification.
Self-objectification is acted out in social media when women tailor their posts, whether consciously or sub-consciously, to create an increased sexual response.  Rachel Calogero, in her study on objectification and social activism, explains, “Self-objectification occurs when the objectifying gaze is turned inward, such that women view themselves through the perspective of an observer and engage in chronic self-surveillance.”  (312) Self-objectification is a symptom of constant sexual objectification of women through mass media, social media, and other outlets. When women feel like objects, they act like objects. Calogero goes on to say, “Sexual objectification may be the most pernicious manifestation of gender inequality, because under a sexually objectifying gaze, women’s bodies become—even just for a moment—the property of the observer. Research has demonstrated that, compared with men, women are perceived as being more similar to objects and less human when their appearance is emphasized.” (312) Objectification is so damaging and pernicious because of the results; basically, women will self-objectify to attract or maintain the “positive” attention from men or sexual partners. Women are culturized to view the attention as flattering, validating, and even necessary for success. (Calegaro 313)
            The damage of self-objectification gets worse. Calegaro found in her study that because objectification focuses on appearance, not action, women who self-objectify become likely to perpetuate objectification culture, as opposed to participating in social activism that might combat this detriment to women. Her study focused on college age females. She basically had two groups of young women; one group was asked to write a paragraph about a time they felt sexually objectified, and one was asked to write a paragraph about a neutral subject, such as their plans for the weekend. Then both groups were asked questions about how likely they were to participate in gender-based social activism, like attending a workshop, signing a petition (in person or online), circulating a flier related to women’s rights (in person or online), or fund-raising in the next 6 months.  Here is the interesting part: Women in the self-objectification condition group reported significantly less willingness to engage in gender-based social activism than did the women in the control condition group. (Calogero 316)
            This is frankly frightening.  My intuitive reaction would be that after being objectified, a woman would want to fight back. But it is human nature to repeat the status quo. (Calogero 316) Sadly, images become internalized. Thoughts become reality. This is why social media can be a weapon—women are inundated with objectifying images, and then they act them out on their own Facebook and Instagram profiles all day everyday. “Given the number of opportunities for women to experience self-objectification in their daily lives, it is troubling that such experiences appear to thwart women’s engagement in activism on their own behalf.” (Calogero 316)  Troubling indeed.
            Although objectification theory contends that sexual objectification will socialize women to engage in self-objectification, (Harper 650) there has to be another way. Social media isn’t going anywhere, but perhaps there is a glimmer of hope to be found in the images of women out there in the scrolling masses. There is a community to be found of “body positive” and feminist pages on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest, among other platforms. Katie H. Willcox founded a movement called “Healthy is the New Skinny,” as well as Natural Model Management, a modeling agency for fashion models of all sizes.  She posts pictures of healthy, happy women, with rosey cheeks and fat rolls, doing active things, eating and playing outdoors. She says on her Instagram, “I don’t know where any of this will go, I just know it is my job to create my vision and honor my passion. All I can do is my best to make a difference in the world. That is all any of us can do and it adds up.” (Willcox, Instagram) Another inspiring ‘grammer is Honorine Hachey, best known for the #honormycurves movement on Instagram.  She posts daily that every woman’s body is her own, completely unique, and should be honored no matter what.  A recent post read, “I’m body positive, in that I’m POSITIVE I can do what I want with MY OWN BODY. I’m also body positive in that I extend that same courtesy to each of you, in all your glorious forms, without judgment or criticism… we are all beautiful…” (@honorcurves, Instagram)  The positive messages are out there if you look. Social media can be a weapon, but it can also be a shield.
            The unique thing about social media is that it is like a Choose Your Own Adventure Book—the user is more in control of the content they view and receive than they are with other media outlets. By searching out and following uplifting content that doesn’t objectify women or perpetuate body-comparisons, we are voting. We are in control.  If we don’t want to be objectified, we can object. We can create a network, our own social network, of the images we want to see everywhere of healthy, strong, independent, activist women.
            By becoming aware of the affects social media has on our culture and society as a whole, we can see the specific damage that it has on women specifically, since women are its major users. (Klein 58) When we learn the nature of the effects of viewing content on social media on a constant basis—body-comparison with peers—we see the damage that so much social media usage can do.  The damages include increased body-dissatisfaction and a propensity towards eating pathology in young women. (Stice; neda.org)  In addition, the unique culture of desiring attention and “likes” via social media leads to increased self-objectification and likelihood to perpetuate the objectification cycle. (Calogero; Harper)  The damage can be undone through awareness and seeking out a social network of positive role models and images, in addition to strict avoidance of female objectification while using social media.  Strict avoidance sounds difficult, but it is a start. In the words of Katie Willcox, “That is all any of us can do, and it adds up.” (Instagram)
           










Works Cited
Briggs, Helen. "'Selfie' Body Image Warning Issued." BBC News. BBC, 10 Apr. 2014. Web. 3 Dec. 2014. <http://www.bbc.com/news/health-26952394>.

Calogero, Rachel M. "Objects Don't Object: Evidence That Self-Objectification Disrupts Women's Social Activism." Psychological Science 24.3 (2013): 312-18. JSTOR. Web. 2 Dec. 2014. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/23355121>.

Facebook.com

Harper, Brit, and Marika Tiggemann. "The Effect of Thin Ideal Media Images on Women’s Self-Objectification, Mood, and Body Image." Sex Roles: A Journal of Research 58.9-10 (2008): 649-57. Springer Link. Springer US. Web. 10 Dec. 2014. <http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11199-007-9379-x#>.

Instagram.com

Klein, Kendyl M. "Why Don 't I Look Like Her? The Impact of Social Media on Female Body Image." Scholarship @ Claremont 2013 (2013). CMC Student Scholarship. Claremont Colleges. Web. 2 Dec. 2014. <http://scholarship.claremont.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1749&context=cmc_theses>.

nationaleatingdisorders.org

Newsom, Jennifer Siebel and Kimberlee Acquaro. Miss Representation. Girls Club Entertainment, 2011. Film.

Pinterest.com

"Social Media." Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press, 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 1 Dec. 2014. <http://www.oed.com.erl.lib.byu.edu/view/Entry/183739?redirectedFrom=social media#eid272386371>.

Roxby, Philippa. "Does Social Media Impact on Body Image?" BBC News. BBC, 13 Oct. 2014. Web. 2 Dec. 2014. <http://www.bbc.com/news/health-29569473>.

Stice, Eric, Jennifer Maxfield, and Tony Wells. "Adverse Effects of Social Pressure to Be Thin on Young Women: An Experimental Investigation of the Effects of “fat Talk”." International Journal of Eating Disorders 34.1 (2003): 108-17. Wiley Online Library. Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Web. 10 Dec. 2014. <http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/eat.10171/abstract;jsessionid=4968E937874EF6DA35C6134A3F691F31.f01t03>.

"Thigh Gap." Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 9 Oct. 2014. Web. 3 Dec. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thigh_gap>.

" Thinspo." Urban Dictionary. Urban Dictionary, 2 Mar. 2007. Web. 3 Dec. 2014.


"Thinspo Search." Google. Google. Web. 3 Dec. 2014. <www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=thinspo>.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Next Step... Goals. Oh boy.

So I'm doing this big Whole 30 thing, and believe me, if you are doing it or ever want to try it, that is enough. But I'm 12 days in as of tomorrow, and I have discovered some things about me that have led me to want to make some goals to step it up a little:

  1. Only 2 snacks per day. I'm not supposed to be snacking much at all on Whole 30, but I have let myself have some fruit, veggies, or nuts every time I'm hungry. It's been A LOT of fruit and nuts. Way too much fruit, and I'm still liking that sugar. The point of this goal is plan my meals more mindfully so I'm fuller and not hungry between meals. Fill up on proteins and veggies. 
  2. Try more new recipes. I'm already falling into ruts, making my same favorites over and over. Lots of boiled eggs, lots of lettuce wrapped hamburgers and sweet potato fries. I need to pick 3-4 new recipes every Saturday before I shop that I can do that coming week. I'm taking the time to cook anyway. I can do it. 
  3. I'm ready to step it up with physical activity. I've been wanting to take a barre class for weeks and months, so tomorrow is the day. I'm going to take my gobs of energy, and show them off! 
My main focus is the main rules of the plan, but I'll do my best with these. It's an awesome process. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

I'm getting fun again... I think.

Unexpected side effect of Whole 30... My personality is coming back.

I've been in a funk (seriously suffocating blues) for about a year, caused by one major blow of stress after another. It has been the hardest year of my life. No I take that back, because things like that are scary to say, but I will say there has been more sadness, shock, panic, pain, and anger packed back-to-back from March 2013 to April 2013 than in any other time in my life so far. It got hard to handle, hard to believe that it was real. It got easier to just joke about it--I told my sister and mom one night (the night after my YOUNGER sister had a mini-stroke and I got kicked out of my apartment) that I was going to write a book someday about this year entitled, "Stephanie Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events."

I don't want to talk about the past year anymore, because it really sucks to think about, to hear about, and because that's what my therapist is for. But I will say that the year gradually beat me into a ghost of myself. My best, happiest moments were when I was well-rested on rare occasions, when I dragged myself outside with my dog, or when I was a little loopy from pain meds for my back (injured June 2013), so I actually felt like talking to people. Maintaining friendships has been very hard, because I don't want to talk about my personal struggles much, but I've been very lonely and sad and I need support.  I've also been very difficult to be a friend to, because I shut down a lot, cry constantly, forget everything, and I'm not fun at all lately.  Total downer.

But... silver lining, peeking through the clouds...

It's Day 4 of my Whole 30 and I feel myself growing a little bigger and bigger inside of me again.  I feel like Stephanie isn't stuffed down and choked out by food. I've spent a year using food to kill my bad feelings, but it was killing my good feelings too I think. Killing my whole personality!

It is such a relief to feel that the fun Stephie is not lost forever. She is resurrected and taking some breaths and getting stronger! I was funny on instagram yesterday, I talked to my sister on the phone, I group texted my best friend and made her cry from laughing in church, and I even took a selfie. Nothing is more Stephie than that! I'm back baby.

And one more miracle, tonight, a nice guy that I'm talking to texted and asked how I'm doing, and I said, "Really good!" And I meant it. And he asked, "How was your day?" and I said, "It was good! Really productive at work, and ..." and told him some fun things I did too. I don't remember the last time I told someone I am "good", let alone "really good".  For months it has been, "Okay," while holding back, "Miserable, I hate my life and everything in the world." I felt like a stranger was texting those words, but I just meant them with all my heart, and shocked the crap out of myself. So small, but a giant gleeful moment for me.

I hope I have expressed how huge this is without sounding totally crazy. Oh well, if you think I'm crazy, read a different blog. Xoxox.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

I'm Learning Food Stuff.

So guys, I'm having fun with my food. It's Day 3 only (!!) and I'm already feeling some freedom--less constant hunger, fewer cravings, less overwhelm, less stress with regards to "what will I eat right now that will not make me feel TERRIBLE?" Also, today is the first day I woke up without a headache in, oh, 3-4 months at least. So, bonus. And I made a fancy breakfast to celebrate.

Before:

After:

It was yum. I've been noticing that my meals, and especially snacks are wanting to be very fruit/veggie and fat-focused. I need to work on upping my animal protein, at least for Whole30. I'm not used to eating it at every meal, that's for sure. But I'll give it a try for now, and see what I decide on after the 30 days!  These are some snacks I've enjoyed so far:


 Cashews, carrots, and homemade guac


Sliced banana, almond butter, and pecans. Perfect bedtime treat. 
 
 Today I had apple slices topped with avo slices and salt. I just wanted it and had it. So whatevs.

Next food experiment will be making homemade mayo in my blender... with the recipe below. That should help me get more protein in, with some chicken, egg, and shrimp salads. So far so good!

http://vahuntergatherers.com/2014/01/18/homemade-mayonnaise-recipe-paleo-gluten-free/

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Whole30 Wish List

I have some hopes and dreams wrapped up in completing my round of Whole30. The benefits are supposed to be helping with systemic inflammation, easing of mysterious aches and pains, and a reset in regards to food.

These are the things I'm hoping for:
  • less carpal tunnel pain
  • less back pain
  • fewer migraines
  • clearer skin
  • less puffy eyes
  • less tummy bloating
  • more energy
  • better sleep
  • maybe lose some inches (here's hoping!)
  • fewer carb and sugar cravings
So we'll see how it goes! I'll report on how everything turns out. I feel the same as always today. But I ate all my good food. I already need more eggs.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Holy Whole 30

Day 1.

I have begun this very brave and very important food rehab for myself. The program is Whole30, found here. The premise is basically to eat only whole, unprocessed food, void of chemicals and emotionally, hormonally, or psychologically unbalancing ingredients (think grains, sugar, additives, etc).

I committed to the plan yesterday, shopped and prepared, and started today.

I had no choice. I've been eating like food is saving my life, but it's drowning me. I've been emotionally eating my brains out. I knew I had a serious problem when my therapist (judge me) asked me what I look forward to in my life day to day, and I could not think of one single thing besides food. Cafe Rio and cookie dough ice cream.

I've tried eliminating sugar, gluten, meat... I've been pescatarian and vegan. But I cheat. I'm a full blown addict. I need rehab and a total reset. Freedom from food. I can say one thing for all the craziness; I don't give up.

So with my final high weight behind me (208), and some scary bloated before pictures lurking on my phone, I'm ready to eat real food.

TODAY. I ate eggs and sweet potato hash browns with spinach and tomatoes for breakfast. I honestly don't even remember lunch, but it was there. Home-made baked sweet potato chips and fresh guacamole for a snack. Tilapia, zucchini, and pineapple for dinner. Boiled eggs, cashews, and banana for snack. It was a mess, but I did it! I had a headache and stomach ache all day, and started my first period for this calendar year.

29 days to go. Scary frozen smile emoji.


Monday, March 17, 2014

200

This is what 200 pounds looks like.
 200 pound girls wear skinny jeans. And animal print!
 200 pound girls show their tummies. (And wear bikinis!)
 200 pound girls dress up and get and holla'd at as much as the next girl (or more).
 200 pound girls catch themselves staring. 

 200 pound girls take shameless bathroom selfies in dirty bathrooms, just like skinny girls. We are just that hot, we can't wait long enough to clean the bathroom.
 200 pound girls go on vacations and have adventures and hug trees. :)

 200 pound girls are sassy. Duh. Oh and don't always wear clothing "appropriate for their body type."

200 pound girls work out. When they are not taking pics of it. 

 200 pound girls get tired and work out anyway.
Um, and 200 pound girls climb in shopping carts like children. 

Hi my name is Stephanie Spainhower, and I weigh 200 pounds.

This past fall and winter, I weighed myself no more than a handful of times, but I fluctuated between 190 and 200. About the same for the rest of 2013, when I was weighing myself a lot more.  Basically, whether I worship the scale every day or every week or not, I was going to stay about there, and that is based a lot on my emotional eating, which is based a lot on what is going on in my personal life. 

200 is my high weight as a constant fluctuater, and 160-ish is my healthy low.  200 was once a prison for me; it meant shame and pain and the belief that I deserved nothing. Not because of the weight, but because of the beliefs (and the causes), I carried the weight around. I was in a very scary and destructive relationship a few years ago, and didn't wake up and see myself, inside or outside, until I got out of it. Once that happened, I easily dropped 40 pounds. I've spent the years since then between 170 and 180 for the most part, happy as a curvy clam with that size.  

200 for me now means beautiful. It doesn't mean I can't do better. It doesn't mean I'm hiding, or I'm embarrassed or ashamed.  It definitely doesn't mean don't look at me. It doesn't mean I do what some one else tells me to do. It doesn't mean terrified. It doesn't mean not good enough. I promised myself years ago that nothing about me would ever be that girl again. 

BUT. *moment of confession!* 200 does mean too much stress and not enough sleep. It does mean a lot of personal sadness and struggle. It does mean injury and physical and emotional pain. It does mean emotional eating. It does mean being lonely, and not always knowing who is really there. It means holding on to a lot that I should LET GO. 

One thing I have been on the journey to let go of is the stigma of these numbers on the stupid scale. It is a liar (so fickle, seriously, can't trust it), and it doesn't tell the truth about us. If we only look at what the scale gives us, look at all the things we would miss about ourselves! I for one would might miss that I'm funny, smart, loving, real, wise, experienced, beautiful, creative, insightful, and talented. Not to mention, made up of all the fun and hotness pictured above. 

Right now, 200 is an indicator to me about my physical and emotional health. And I can love my body and want to change it at the same time. As my back heals and I'm more mobile and active (happening!), my weight will stabilize to my comfy range.  As I continue to work on my emotional health and habits (thank you therapy), I'll let go of weight physically and figuratively. I'm not worried. 

200 may mean a lot of things. But it doesn't scare me. 

"You have no power over me."--Sarah to the Goblin King