Welcome to the first of my new series ‘She Loves Herself’! I’m so excited to start this series of regular guest posts sticking two fingers up to the world of body shaming and sharing some love when it comes to our fabulous bodies – squidgy bits and all!!
Kicking off the series is the wonderful Meret Boxler who describes herself as ‘Former national radio DJ, freelance journalist, writer, speaker, podcaster, recovering lifetime yoyo-dieter/exercise addict/compulsive eater, self-love establisher, body image improver, body positivity promoter, Health At Every Size (HAES) advocate, size-diversity acceptance promoter, weight-stigma and fat-phobia fighter, women uniter, big hearted human,cat lover, book worm and friend.”
I mean could she be any more perfect for a debut guest post? She also writes in TWO languages, German being her first (yep, and I struggle to blog once a week in English!) Meret lives in Zurich, Switzerland and is a relatively new ‘discovery’ for me. Having listened to her podcasts and read her blog I found her backstory and determination inspiring- in fact I have to thank her for the support which gave me the courage to stop being such a big baby and just get on with starting this series – thanks Meret!! So let’s hear what she had to say…
Name 3 parts of your body that you love and tell us why they’re so fabulous?
Fabulous is a big word – I have only been on my self-discovery and self-acceptance journey for two years, so bear with me:
1. My feet. Sweet, strong, smooth.
2. My hair. Soft, shiny, sweet smelling (usually)
3. My skin. Delicate, sensitive, soft.
Note to self: She really didn’t (!) want to know about the parts I dislike and am learning hard to applaud for.
Share a memory of when you felt particularly good about yourself.
Every time I podcast interviewee reaches out to me to tell me that I am a great interviewer and that they really enjoyed their time with me and felt completely safe and really heard. Those are the moments when my body image woes don’t matter. Because I know I’m appreciated for who I am and not for how my body is or isn’t shaped. And that’s true for all of us.
Has your relationship with your body changed over time?
It is now in the process of changing for the positive! But chronologically speaking, it has changed numerous times: Assuming I was quite a happy camper when I was born, I quickly learned that “my body is wrong and needs to be fixed.“ (First diet: 5 years old. Yes. Insanity) I was put on restrictive diets as a kid and subsequently learned to obsess about food, eat in secret, binge and be put on diets again. When I grew up that turned into a quite a large body. After I was 20, my own body hating began and I started my own diet-quest: What started out harmless enough, over the years turned into more and more of a thin-obsession; I just HAD to look like „those women in the magazines“ – maybe THEN I’d feel good about myself. I yo-yoed my way through my 20s and 30s, and my weight-suppressing turned more and more extreme (because, maintaining a lower weight gets harder the longer you do it), so I became extremely obsessed with what to eat/what not to eat and turned into a complete exercise addict. All the time hating my body more and more, running into the ground with constant overexercising and binging, feeling increasingly weak and sick, but still not ever finding happiness no matter how low my weight was. My period went missing, my hair thinned out, my nails became brittle, my sleep turned into crazy insomnia. Not good.
So after finally crashing and burning at the age of 40, I started to see what toxic diet-culture messages I had internalized and was ruled by. I started educating myself, intensified therapy, and really kneeled into body positivity, Health At Every Size, media literacy and the truth about weight-regulation science. Now, 1 year in, I have my own recovery podcast, a blog, a huge Facebook group (all called „Life Unrestricted“) and am stunned and saddened to see just how MANY women are wasting their precious mental and physical energy on trying to become smaller, instead of living their life unsuppressed. I live and breathe to change that, and in order to do that, I am also learning to love (first: accept) my own body.
If you are a parent (or have little people in your life), has this changed how you perceive or discuss healthy body image?
I do not have children of my own. But I can not stress enough how important it is that any child’s mother and father is a good role model in terms of size-acceptance, body peace and non-restrictive eating. children learn even from non-verbal interactions. So sadly, when a woman dislikes her body and is constantly trying to diet and talking about „how she needs to lose those pounds“, her child will inevitably inherit those messages.
My own mother was spending her living years getting thin, constantly on diets and trying everything from shakes to vegan to low-carb eating rules, and all it did was make her obsessed with food, frustrated and self-loathing. It pains me to know that she never knew freedom before she died.
What advice would you give to your teenage self on the subject of body image?
Oh man. That’s a tough one. Probably: Read Naomi Wolf’s „The Beauty Myth“, and somehow get your hands on the truth about the 60-billion-dollar diet-industry, the fact that diets don’t work, and please don’t go down the rabbit hole of dieting, and more dieting and more dieting and ever more desolation. In short: Take the short-cut to self-love and live free! You are loved and worthy as you are, no matter what our diet-culture wants to make you believe.
What’s the best thing you’ve ever done for your body? Starting this journey. Resting more. Starting my podcast (makes me happy, makes my body happy). And: Not drinking.
Share one confidence boosting trick for days when you’re feeling a bit ‘meh’.
I discovered body-positive body image podcasts 1 1/2 years ago and they are a game changer to this day. (Yes, so I did the inevitable and started my own. Haha!)
Anyways, it really helps having supportive headphone friends to help you get back up when the inner Gremlin brings you to your knees. (And it will! Those messages have been learned for ever, they can’t be un-learned in a day.)
Who in the public eye do you admire for celebrating natural body shape?
Virgie Tovar, Jes Baker, Sonya Renee Taylor, Rob the Diva, Ragen Chastain, Taryn Brumfitt and many, many others!
Give us your best body positive quote or mantra.
You are not worth more when there’s less of you!
I pledge to love myself a little more today by…
Smiling at myself while brushing my teeth (quite funny) and going to bed before midnight.
Find my podcast „Life. Unrestricted.“ here (iTunes): https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/life.-unrestricted.-podcast/id1130713233?mt=2#episodeGuid=2e33a4a55eb5704d667446414c8a20da
or here (Stitcher, for android phones): http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/meret/life-unrestricted-podcast?refid=stpr
And my blog here: http://www.lifeunrestricted.org/
And my FB community here: http://www.lifeunrestricted.org/join/
I really hope you enjoyed the debut post, thanks so much to Meret for being a guest, make sure you look her up! If you would like to take part in this series I’d love to hear from you, just email firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below.