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.

 

4 Comments Add yours

  1. nicole says:

    your physician story and associated dancing chicken photograph has simply brought me to tears of laughter!!! the first time that i confided in a physician during a regular check-up, i bravely circled the “yes” for anorexia. it didn’t list bulimia which i was at the time (2007 – 2008ish). so, i felt safe divulging just a part of my secret. and of course, at that point, my bout anorexia had been long over (1999). when he read my medical history, he burst into laughter (imagine a big burly man who looks like the doctor on bewitched, and you have my physician). he exclaimed, “bahahahaha! yeah! my daughter has anorexia! bahahaha! she doesn’t eat!!!!!” i walked out of the office and never saw the guy again. LOL!

    but yes, i couldn’t have started my blog about overcoming bulimia until my weight stabilised at the healthy level which just so happened to be smaller than during my bulimia years. so, i definitely understand the “life will be better when i’m skinny” theory. unfortunately, that sucks. and we all need to just listen to our bodies (see my blog post from last night about this). here’s the link: http://nicoleandgwendolyn.com/2011/10/27/governed-by-calories/. it’s called “governed by calories.” enjoy! 🙂 xxx

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    1. Thanks, Nicole. I’m so sorry to hear about that physician. All the courage it took to circle the “anorexia,” and then he shamed you. I will check out your latest post. Sounds really interesting. How is Gwendolyn doing? Have a beautiful weekend, Cherrie

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      1. nicole says:

        cherrie, miss gwendolyn just returned from a 3am stroll around town. she indicated need to visit “nature,” but when i removed her raincoat from the closet (because it’s raining), the little rascal darted from me! it took 20 minutes to catch her, she quickly accomplished her nature task, and now we’re snuggling in bed with the macbook! thank you for asking about her. that means a lot to me! xxx

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      2. Nicole,
        That is scary!! I’m so glad you got her back.

        For some reason, I’m not being notified when I have comments. I’m also not getting notified when the blogs I’ve subscribed to have a new post. I wonder why that is.

        Anyway, I’m so glad Gwendolyn is back. Little rascal! Take care, Cherrie

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