Body Image and Size: My Life Will be Perfect when I’m a Size ___ (Yeah, right!)

Want to be Skinny

(Note:  all names and identifying information throughout my blog have been changed to protect individuals.)

I wasn’t sure I’d heard him right.  A physician came in for help with anxiety and depression, and told me during one of our sessions he was going on a chicken diet.

“A chicken diet?”  I asked.

“Yeah.  Chicken is the perfect food.

If I eat mostly chicken and drink water, I can lose some of this.”  He grabbed some excess fat around his middle.

“I’ve researched it, and I can hit my goal in three months at the normal recommended 2 pounds a week pace.   I’ll have chicken for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and I’ll drop the extra weight.  Then I can wear cool, manly clothes.  And the best part is women will be really into me.”

He smiled and looked out the window as though he’d discovered the answer to all life’s problems.

“So then you’ll have a perfect life?”  I asked.  I’ve heard this magical thinking from many people.  Countless women mentioned that when they became “skinny,” they would buy cute clothes.  I usually asked why they couldn’t buy them now, but they generally scrunched up their noses and thought that was crazy.  They insisted they had to wait until they were “skinny” to buy fun clothes.

In fact, many people use the word “skinny” as a magical word.  Once they are “skinny,” their lives will become enjoyable, but not one minute sooner.   They realized they can find attractive  clothes in larger sizes now, but had no interest until they were – drum roll please – skinny.

The magical thinking continues: Once they get skinny, they can dress better.  Then guys will want to date them, which will lead to a perfect  boyfriend, which will open the golden door to the perfect life.  Once the door opens, they get the successful, attractive boyfriend, the perfect wedding, and then buy a beautiful home.

Finally they have children, and as long as they stayed skinny, their lives will be flawless, dreamy, and perfect.  So goes the beast of

Magical thinking comes in many flavors:  Once I get a college degree, life will be perfect.  Or once I get married, life will be perfect.  Or once I have a house or a larger house, life will be perfect.  Or a very popular version:  Once I move to _______, life will be perfect.  But the truth is, once we rid ourselves of such magical thinking, we will be much more comfortable in our own skin. Life won’t be perfect this side of glory, but once we can rid ourselves of magical thinking, we will be much more at peace.

© Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC and Reclaiming the Plunder of the Body Image Bandit, 2007 – 2017. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA,  LMHC appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Trish says:

    Hi, I saw your comment at healthygirl.org and decided to check out your site…this post really hits home! I always tell myself how much happier I’ll be when I get down to a size 10 (I’m a 14 currently). I tell myself how guys will finally be interested in me, and how that will make me happy. But what I’ve realized is that outside factors can’t create happiness within — that’s all on me. I’ve got to learn to accept myself AS I AM NOW, rather than for what I COULD be in the future. If I never get down to a size 10 for my whole life, does that mean that I will live my whole life being unhappy?? When I think about it that way, it seems ridiculous to me and usually snaps me out of that thought path.

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    1. Trish,
      You are so wise in deciding to accept yourself as you are right now. Bravo! That is so important. Since we have seen 250,000 ads by the time we’re 17, we have all been brainwashed into thinking that thin is beautiful. That is why it’s a great idea to kiss all of our fashion and beauty magazines goodbye!

      Have a wonderful 2010 loving yourself just as you are. Take care, Cherrie

      Like

  2. Alison says:

    Isn’t it funny how we think life will be perfect when ….. I too used to fall into this trap about being the perfect weight! I remember being in a lecture on eating disorders and the lecturer asking what was your perfect weight. The reply was 9 stone to which the lecturer said 9st 1lb. No I said 9st – this was repeated several times. The point was that 1lb heavier and life was not perfect!!!! I’ve worked with so many people who don’t live life until they hit the perfect ….
    Alison

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    1. That is so funny! But you are right, people don’t actually live until they achieve the perfect. They are going to start living when they achieve that perfection. So much time wasted on trying to be perfect. As one client said to me, “The more perfect I try to be, the worse I get.” In other words, she went to self-medication using food, drugs, etc. because deep in her heart she knew she would never be perfect. Like I tell my clients, we will never be perfect until we’re 6 feet under (in other words, no longer living). 😉

      Like

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