Beauty Lies in the Eye of the Beholder

beauty. illustrated woman looking off into the distance with pink sweater surrounded by green leaves.

“Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder.”

This phrase takes on a new meaning When it comes to your personal relationship with food and your body. As a licensed marriage and family therapist and eating disorder specialist, it is a common theme and discussion I have with clients. The thought of developing a better relationship with your body and food isn’t often thought or discussed in this way. I take a step further, as I do most things in my life.

What messages have been received externally? I refer to family, socially, society, and culturally (i.e anything outside of yourself) consciously and unconsciously.

Mixed Messages about Beauty

In my home, we received messages that were conflicting and confusing. My grandmother, aunts, and mother had different definitions of beauty. My grandmother constantly fed and made meals for everyone. For my grandmother, preparing and providing food for others was her way of giving love.

She’d comment and associate being overweight with beauty and power whereas my aunts and mother were constantly attempting to get to their birth weight. 

Reflecting back it’s clear that my aunts and mother struggled with disordered eating. The mixed messages of love, beauty, and image were interconnected in very confusing ways.  My home environment consisted of a strong matriarchal presence with two different definitions of beauty. It was the outer dialogue of the eating disorder.  It took me a long time to unpack the layers of beauty, body image, and food.

We Have Choices

We internalize messages and definitions that are spoken or unspoken. And we have choices in how we define beauty. I know it often doesn’t feel this way in the depths of the eating disorder. It takes unpacking and curiosity of these meanings and definitions.

The beauty is that you get to decide what your relationship with food and body looks like and what you’d like it to look like. 

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