I co run an Eating Disorder Peer Support group with a good friend of mine. We met in an Eating Disorder recovery group a few years ago. We have been running our own Peer Support group for a few months now. It is such an amazing thing to be doing, always a blessing to be in a room full of inspiring women sharing their own stories.
What moves me and fills my heart with joy is that I look at this friendship and am so proud of what she has achieved and we have come through together. There is a strong feeling of being united and connected. Spending time with strong women has recently been something that I have been seeking a lot more of.
The world is in crisis and the shocking things I’ve been hearing recently have left me feeling angry and unnerved. I had a conversation with my friend and another woman and we were saying it is no surprise that it seems eating disorders and body image problems are on the rise. Yes, there is a lot more awareness and a lot more being done to understand these things better, more brilliant activists taking their stands but we are living in a society now where women seem to have less and less autonomy and control over their own bodies and voices, instead being dictated by an unraveling totalitarian society.
This week I have been reminded of stories that women have kept in and are starting to let out. I have seen women react and retract with a look of fear and uncertainty after they’ve used their voices, and felt myself retract through the comments of a particularly interesting individual who deemed it appropriate to comment on my image as opposed to my skills and experience within my professional life. I kicked myself for not reacting out loud with the words that were swilling around in my head but I literally lost my voice for a moment and that got to me.
Later that day I had to listen to Whitney Houston’s ‘I’m every woman’ about 3 times in a vague attempt to instill a sense of power I had felt I had lost in that moment. It helped only mildly for about 5 minutes. What really helped was being in a room full of women, each with a story that has been navigated through addiction, compulsions and primarily through their own willingness and hope for what they can each bring to the world, a love for themselves that may open and close in equal measures but nevertheless, is growing.
Something needs to change. I fear we have become so hard on ourselves, we are fighting with all our might. Fun feels like it is happening with a thick layer of dust and grime upon it, clouding the air each time we jump up and down to the beat of our own songs.