The Untold Stories

I’ve been experiencing a little blogging bewilderment lately. Sometimes my thoughts spill out of me in currents splashing on the page looking for a place to land. I write in notebooks. I write on the computer. I write on little pieces of paper that eventually find their way into a pile, a box, or an envelope waiting to be crafted into a blog post, a journal entree, a teleclass, a talk.

But much of my writing these past two months has been falling into the “untold stories” pile. That’s where I grapple with the darker side of my psyche and soul. That’s where I process the grief I hold as I watch my father struggle to keep his balance or get up out of his chair for a meal. That’s where I process the sadness that consumes me when I look at a client, a beautiful young woman who cannot see her own beauty, only the “number” on a scale or the protrusion of her belly. No matter how hard we work on the nourishment piece, embracing our bodies and DELIGHTING in the transformation in our skin when we begin to nourish it from the inside out, we always come back to . . .

T H E  S C A L E

I thought about taking a little writer’s hiatus. Perhaps I could just go back to my weekly newsletter for a while and talk about the carotenoids in carrots. Yes, that’s safe. Everyone likes a good carrot ginger soup recipe. I thought perhaps I could buy a little time while I crafted the next approach I could take in guiding some of these women into a more nourishing, compassionate place around food and their bodies.

And then this video landed on my facebook page. It reminded me why I do this work. It reminded me that I can show women how to make green smoothies, juice kale, prepare an elegantly easy meal, maybe even SIT DOWN at the table and enjoy that meal with their families


There are photographs everywhere, ads depicting images that no healthy woman or girl should aspire to. And there are times I feel woefully ill-equipped to make a difference when these industries are so powerfully built to woo us into the seduction of “skinny”.

Skinny jeans, skinny love, skinny girl margaritas, Skinny Bitch. How about if we take the positive charge out of the word “skinny” and really expose that word for what it is? What if the cultural message we promote is NOT skinny. How about healthy, robust, strong . . .  Will you help me brainstorm a list of life-giving words?

So here is what I need from you. I want to capture the “untold” stories. I want to illuminate the struggles and encapsulate them in a form that speaks volumes. Will you help me? Will you share with me YOUR STORY? Our stories need to be voiced. They may flow through you or with you in words or in print, in poetry or in prose. I would like to bring these stories to light, to GIVE VOICE to the WOMANgirlCHILD in us who needs to be heard. They can be stories of hope. They can be stories of despair. Together we’ll decide where they will live and in what form.

Begin with this video. Tell me what it evokes in you? Anger? Fear? Shame?

Then, SHARE THIS POST. Share the video. Bring the conversation to light. Perhaps we’ll write a new script. For ourselves. For our girls.

Leave a message here. Tell me what came up for you when you viewed the video. Send me a personal message if you want to share a deeper story. I will hold those stories in a very sacred place.

And finally, head over to Medicinal Marzipan to see how you can participate in …

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41 Responses to The Untold Stories

  1. Kathleen Prophet March 12, 2012 at 4:30 am #

    Sue Ann… I am the mother of the young man who composed, sings, plays lead guitar, recorded, mixed, produced, shot and edited this video. I say this because I have been around its creation for months and months…. the sounds bleeding through my bedroom wall. Even with that, every time I watch this video, I weeeeeep. Weep! Weep for this woman in this story. Weep for so many others. Weep for me and all the self loathing I have been through EVEN WITH being underweight. Yes, the other end of the spectrum. Too skinny. Couldn’t gain weight. I hated it. People hated me for it. And allllll I wanted was one of those voluptuous healthy bodies.

    I know the young woman who this story is about. I have helped her with her digestive problems, yet the issues run deep in through her psyche… and through my two nieces who were hanging images of Kate Moss, the super SUPER skinny model, on their wall. These two young women had voluptuous healthy vibrant bodies! and due to their shape/bones/body type could NEVER, even in death, look like her. They began taking crystal meth because they had no appetite for a week. And then, they went down the rabbit hole of that addiction and one never came out. She is destroyed FOR LIFE. The other, ravaged but making it.

    So yes, collect your stories. I will help you. I WILL write mine out. It comes from places. Beginning with mother’s who loathe their bodies and pass that loathing on to their children. Yet even with the daughters of women who do NOT loathe their bodies… their daughters have the gamut of industries telling them how they must look.

    We must root it out from ourselves firstly. And that is very tricky shadow work to do. But it begins with US. These children/young women haven’t a chance if we can’t get there.

    Thank you, Sue Ann. I am with you on this one!

    • Sue Ann Gleason
      Sue Ann Gleason March 12, 2012 at 3:26 pm #

      Ahhhhh, thank you mother of the BRILLIANT young man who composed this music and produced this riveting video from start to finish. It comes as no surprise to me that you gave birth to this son. I don’t know the young woman in this video but I can tell you I have worked with her, too. She exists in more clients than I can count and not just the clients who struggle with full-blown eating disorders. It doesn’t matter what size we are, we ALL seem to struggle with the same thing. No matter how bright, how accomplished, how beautiful (inside and out), we are, we’re simply not enough. It’s time we change that conversation. We need to learn how to feed ourselves at a much deeper level. We need to know how to reclaim a more nourishing relationship to food. And our bodies. It’s a biological imperative.

  2. Laurie Rosenfeld March 12, 2012 at 4:34 am #

    Sue Ann, I am touched by what you have written and the movement you are creating with this post. The video you shared makes me angry. I watched enough to see where it was headed but couldn’t even finish watching it. While I have never been a dancer or model or in show business where weight is constantly assessed, here is what I CAN relate to.

    I have been small (read: smaller than “normal”) since I popped out of the womb. My grandfather was a physician and although he had the best of intentions, he was a man of science and statistics. Numbers mattered. Normal mattered. He weighed and measured me every time I saw him from infancy until I was a teenager. We traveled out of town to see a famous endocrinologist for more than a decade and I was given experimental growth hormone shots for several years to boost my height. No one knows whether the hormones worked, whether I would have been even shorter without them. My final height: 4’11”, just shy of 5 feet.

    Although my story is about height and not weight, the impact on me was, I suspect, the same. The message I got was: “You’re not good enough as you are. You’re defective in some way.” Growing up, a great deal of focus was placed on my size, inside and outside of my household. Adults upon meeting me, constantly remarked in voices dripping with pity: “Well aren’t you little! You know, good things come in small packages.” As if somehow I must make up for my small stature by being a “good” person.

    Since I couldn’t control my height, I focused my attention on the things I could control. I excelled in school. I focused on my mind, my studies, my activities, my grades. I worked my tail off proving to myself and everyone around me that I was enough. That I measured up. Even today, many days, my workaholism and my perfectionism get the better of me. Although I did not turn to food, did not become anorexic or bulimic, all addictions are destructive to the psyche in a similar way. They all reflect Fear triumphing over Love. They all reflect an absence of self-love. I have done a lot of work on this, and despite all of the healing, I still have to remind myself daily, sometimes hourly, that I am enough.

    It would certainly be easier if the media reflected more of the diversity that exists — inside out and outside in. It sounds like that’s where your project comes in?! Thanks for taking this on and for inviting us to share our stories. True stories, real stories are a great way to counteract the contrived experiences we are fed by Hollywood, magazines, and the media. I am excited to see where this project goes! xoxo

    • Sue Ann Gleason
      Sue Ann Gleason March 12, 2012 at 3:16 pm #

      Laurie, I take your words to heart and I understand and embrace them at the deepest level. I, too, grew up in a home where I perceived I wasn’t enough. I also grew up in a home where my mother was on a perpetual diet, hating her body, hating herself. My unhealthy eating behaviors and low self esteem came from a similar place. There simply wasn’t language or a context to hold that much sorrow. And yes, I call myself a chronic and recovering overachiever. I say that with “humor” knowing full well that striving for perfection is no way to live. It sucks the life out of you. It leaves you wondering how or when you’ll ever learn the meaning of ENOUGH. I’m a work in progress. We all are. But I hope our struggles and our transparency will, in some way, empower us to effect the change we want to see in the world and this is where I’ll start. Because I simply can’t talk about carrots when my heart is bleeding beets. Much love to you, Laurie. Thank you for responding to this post so thoroughly and with such heart.

      • Donna Rizzo March 13, 2012 at 4:48 pm #

        How interesting….I have some of the same perfectionist issues….and yes some of it came from my father. It was never enough. He was your mother’s brother, so it started somewhere in that family mix. I just read the most awesome book, one that I will read many times for its valuable message “Accepting your gifts of Imperfection.”

  3. Kathleen Prophet March 12, 2012 at 7:12 am #

    Would like to state… that if you choose to watch the video through to the end… the woman seizes back her life… and lives! Stay through the uncomfortability of the images… for this is what our young women are living with. We need to live it with them so that we can look them fully in the eye and strip them of the shame they feel for themselves.

    • Sue Ann Gleason
      Sue Ann Gleason March 12, 2012 at 3:02 pm #

      Yes, Kathleen, sometimes images ARE disturbing and your message here is so important. This IS what are young women are living with. Approximately 40% of 9 year old girls claim they are dieting or have dieted. We can no longer ignore this reality. We have to start OPENING our eyes to this reality. Your son did an amazing job with this video and knowing some of the back story made it all the more compelling for me. I hope to shine a light on these ANTInourishment stories so that we can STOP hiding in shame and use our experiences to shift the “beauty” paradigm. It’s time.

  4. Bonnie Perry March 12, 2012 at 2:17 pm #

    Thank you Sue Ann for posting this, the video and the deep compassion living in your heart for the greatest healing and connection of all of us. I have been on both sides of the weight/size pendulum and received criticism for both. I know this might sound like a utopian idea, but I believe it is time we as human beings recognize that nature, of which we are all inextricably a part, comes in all shapes and sizes……….and Its blooming perfection needs every darn one of them – just as they are. I know the thought comes, but not if they are so big or so small as to not be healthy, but that is placing the cart before the horse because as we can clearly see evidenced in life, it is the original unacceptance of natural normal size diversity that causes the distress of extreme extortions in the first place!

    • Sue Ann Gleason
      Sue Ann Gleason March 12, 2012 at 2:55 pm #

      Thank YOU, Bonnie, for reading and responding to this post. Yes, nature comes in all shapes and sizes. I love that. We would never judge a tree for having a robust trunk. We don’t attack a praying mantis for being too thin. We look at nature with wonder and awe and delight. The same way we look at our children, yes? Not a utopian idea at all. What a beautiful thought to hold today.

  5. DawnV March 12, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

    I, too, am touched and moved by the movement and this video, Sue Ann. LOVED this video and the hope and power at the end.

    Laurie makes such a valid point about how anything different is considered abnormal… and how adults REALLY need to think before they speak to children. Wouldn’t it be fabulous if adults made a conscious effort to use a “builder statement” with every child they encounter? What a difference we could all make in their little, growing lives!!

    I struggled with my weight my entire life. In fact, I was on one diet or another from the time I hit high school. Looking back, I was NOT fat, but was made to feel that way by my father who monitored everything I ate and called me things like “tons of fun”. I can remember him telling me that Cheryl Tiegs (and the other super models of the 70’s and 80’s) would eat only an apple and a yogurt and that I should follow their example. I also remember thinking that I would starve to death if that’s all I ate!

    For me, this video reinforces my commitment to raising my daughter with a HEALTHY body image and HEALTHY attitude toward food. What scares me are the other influences… tv, magazines, friends, adults, things or people that are in a position to make her question her current confident image. She’s an amazing, perfect little being and the thought that she could question all of that over the next 10-15 years is horrifying! I want her to wake up “Full of Awesome” every day for the rest of her life! (See this for explanation:

    Thank you Sue Ann for your message and mission. You do amazing work teaching women to truly nourish themselves. I, for one, am grateful for all that I have learned from you. Stay the course. For although you are battling the media giants as well as our inner demons, we need you leading us down the path to conscious nutrition and total nourishment!

    • Sue Ann Gleason
      Sue Ann Gleason March 12, 2012 at 2:51 pm #

      Thank you, Dawn, for your thoughtful response to this post. It really does take a village doesn’t it? And yes, after teaching those adorable little feisty first graders for so many years I want EVERY child to wake up FULL.OF.AWESOME every single day for the rest of their lives. It took me a very long time to get here, to embrace my body (even my belly) and to know that I can be a model and a guide for ALL that nourishes. I am honored to have you in my Circle.

  6. Juli March 12, 2012 at 4:21 pm #

    SueAnn- this is such an important conversation. Thank you for holding the space for us to discuss these issues with love, with compassion and with hope. Some of the comments here resonated so deeply with me. Kathleen’s critical reminder that we, as mothers, so deeply affect our daughters’ feelings about their bodies not just with what we say and do but even simply by how we FEEL about our own bodies! Ouch!!! This is something I have struggled with and continue to work on and I pray for my daughter’s sake that I grow in my love for my own body every day.

    I also LOVED the link to Waking up Full of Awesome!!! Thank you, Dawn!! This is what I want for myself, for my daughter and my son, for ALL of us- that we remember how to wake up full of awesome every day. Thank you, SueAnn, for shining a sparkling light on this for all of us. We need it so much!

    • Sue Ann Gleason
      Sue Ann Gleason March 14, 2012 at 4:33 am #

      Yes, Juli, I think we need to wake up every day and find just one aspect of our appearance that makes us smile. Even if we have to start with an earlobe. Waking up awesome. What a powerful thought. I am watching you grow in self-love and I am watching you feed both yourself your family with such love. Thank you for all that you contribute to the women in our Circle.

  7. Lynette Neal March 12, 2012 at 9:39 pm #

    This is such an important discussion. I was raised by the same dictates of body size and image. I was deemed to be “chubby” as a child by my parents and called fat at school. I have dieted all of my life only to be on the constant merry go round of solutions that didn’t work. I just spent the week-end at a retreat with many women over the ripe age of 45. I had the opportunity to reflect with one of my soul sisters about my struggle. She, also, has shared this difficult path. Food was used to keep us strong as we competed in the world of work, proved we were smart for women of our age—-we gave as nurses, care givers, health care managers who used food to stave off exhaustion so we could stay and give more of ourselves. I find that “being perfect” made up for my lack of control around not having the “perfect body weight”. I dieted to please my parents and to fit in and to be sure I would be loved. For no one loved a fat child or a fat women. ( As I deeply believed at the time). I starved, took diet pills, went on any new diet that showed up. Some of it worked for a time—but did not address the issue of not loving myself and feeling like a failure no matter how successful and smart I was. I realized in looking back that my family and my husband have always loved me for me—–I just didn’t. I was ashamed at being different, failing another diet and hating myself for it. I was a teen-ager when the role models were Sandra Dee, Twiggy and other super models. (Who all seemed to have ended up addicted, dead or on drugs!) So, where is the hope? Where am I today? I am embracing the lessons and blessing this beautiful 67 year old body that has born children, great love and has graced me with strength beyond measure when faced with some very dark days. I am able to embrace with gratitude this amazing body that goes on and supports my life and holds my soul even with all the crazy things I have done to be thin. I am so grateful for this beautiful body and I am learning a way of being that takes me out of diet industry clutches of false claims and the demeaning of women and their natural bodies. I too hope for a better world for my granddaughters as they grow and mature. The manipulation by the culture and media is so someone in corporate America can make more money selling clothes, modeling lessons, plastic surgery and diets that don’t work because women believe we are not enough. It’s time to claim my light and just be who I am—not what the culture dictates as acceptable. I am enough.

    • Sue Ann Gleason
      Sue Ann Gleason March 14, 2012 at 4:27 am #

      Lynette, Thank you so much for sharing your words, your wisdom, and all that you have come to know in this tumultuous journey toward ENOUGH. It is a journey, yes? I had forgotten all about Twiggy. And you’re right, many of those young women ended up dead or ravaged by drugs. I have to hope that we can create a different world for our young girls. I’m starting with the mothers (and grandmothers) because until we heal our own psyches we cannot hope to guide our girls. So let’s take some of that wisdom and some of that hope and shine a light on all that is good and beautiful about our bodies. And let’s compile these stories and give them form because the stories will provide the context, and the catalyst. I feel privileged to accompany you on this journey toward self-love and gratitude.

  8. Liz March 12, 2012 at 10:42 pm #

    Sue Ann, this was such a beautiful post and message. I love the idea of hearing people’s untold stories, we all have them. I’ve alway thought that it’s such a shame that young girls (boys too for that matter) don’t learn powerful messages of self-love though our school systems. It’s all left up to families and the media which don’t always work out well. I think children/young adults would benefit greatly from incorporating a little self-help into their education which includes teaching a healthy relationship with food. Thanks for sharing this message.

    • Sue Ann Gleason
      Sue Ann Gleason March 14, 2012 at 4:11 am #

      Thank you for reading and responding to this post, Liz. I think the guidance counselors in our schools do a whole lot with self-esteem, particularly in the primary grades but I’m wondering how much we really tackle food and body image. This is a very interesting question because if there is a lot of shame or denial in the home with regard to food issues and role models, where can our kids go to engage in thoughtful discussions? That’s why I think this video is such an important one. It illuminates the struggle from the perspective of a young man who was very much affected by his girlfriend’s eating disorder, so much so that he spent months and months creating this video, this extremely cathartic piece of art. Very powerful.

  9. Helen Hunter Mackenzie March 13, 2012 at 5:13 am #

    Sue Ann, thank you for posting this- and Kathleen, thank you for raising a son who is capable of creating such a thought-provoking video (and, the music is phenomenal… the melody is still ringing in my ears).

    It’s so interesting, as a woman who was never ‘skinny’ nor ‘fat’ throughout my lifetime, to note how super skinny women feel like they’d do anything to be voluptuous, and voluptuous women feel like they’d do anything to look like Kate Moss.

    Just goes to show that we are all living in a world of our own making. And if that’s so, then what on earth are we waiting for to make it amazing??? 🙂


    • Sue Ann Gleason
      Sue Ann Gleason March 14, 2012 at 4:00 am #

      “What on earth are we waiting for to make it amazing?” I love that, Helen. And yes, I so often hear from women, particularly in my group programs that they wish they had “the opposite” problem. What has become so painfully apparent to me is that “unhappy with my body” is simply two sides of the same coin. As Byron Katie so beautifully displays in her work, it’s time to start loving what is.

  10. Kimby March 13, 2012 at 12:25 pm #

    Sue Ann, the “seduction of skinny” was a powerful phrase and this incredible video/music illustrated that seduction. Your life-giving words brought awareness, the video showed change is possible, and the one word that came to mind after absorbing the message in both was: VITAL!

    • Sue Ann Gleason
      Sue Ann Gleason March 14, 2012 at 3:52 am #

      Thank you for reading and commenting on this post, Kimby. And yes, it is vital that we bring these conversations to light, both with our kids and among ourselves.

  11. Alex March 13, 2012 at 9:19 pm #

    Back when I was in the thick of my eating disorder I started playing a game with myself. I would walk down the hallways at work and think about what I knew about each person I passed. I did this so that I could break the habit of noticing someone for their weight first (a bad habit of a food deprived mind), but instead for who they really are. As I’d pass people I’d think things such as, “mother of four” “happily married” “great teacher” “always laughing”. This little game really helped me to see that someone’s weight actually had no bearing on their success or happiness in life. The longer I played the game the more I grew to appreciate everyone for their softer bodies. As silly as it may sound, I now notice with love and fondness someone’s rolls or soft spots. Today I always feel a twinge of sadness when a friend mentions his or her “diet”. Why? Because I wish for everyone to just love the body they are meant to have.

    • Sue Ann Gleason
      Sue Ann Gleason March 14, 2012 at 3:47 am #

      Such wise and wonderful words. Thank you for sharing both the game and the insight, Alex. We share the very same wish. I also think that little exercise, looking at people and consciously noticing something sweet, something that has nothing to do with their body shape or size would be a wonderful practice for all of us.

  12. Tracey March 14, 2012 at 9:04 pm #

    Sue Ann, thank you for bringing up this important topic and thank you Kathleen for the gift of your amazing son. How evolved he must be to notice and want to illuminate this message. My daughter is only 4 now, but I am very careful how I speak about food to her and what she sees/doesn’t see in regards to media. But more importantly, I want to empower her to always feel like she’s enough and she is perfect just the way she is. I know I won’t always have control of that once she’s in school and around her peers but if I instill empowering thoughts in her, I can hope she escapes this very sad and madenning illness. I’m glad there are people like you, Sue Ann, who believe in conscious eating. Your methodology of “take back our plates” is empowering.

    • Sue Ann Gleason
      Sue Ann Gleason March 17, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

      Thank you, Tracey for all that YOU embody with regard to food as celebration. Watching you guide people around New York City finding the best places to dine, watching you delight your daughter with the same foodie sensibility is truly heartwarming. I’m biased of course. Your relationship to food as pleasure reminds me of my romps around Buffalo with my dad when I was a child. He showed me where to find the freshest, most delicious ingredients. Even if it took ALL MORNING. We shopped for QUALITY rather than bargains even though his income was very modest. Good food was simply something he valued highly. Perhaps life was a little less hectic, less scheduled at that time. Placing a beautiful meal on the table felt more like art than an unpleasant but necessary task. Perhaps we can get back to that, yes?

  13. Melissa Dinwiddie March 16, 2012 at 8:37 pm #

    Sue Ann, you are my hero (shero!) and my kindred spirit, my soul sister in your passion for de-programming and re-programming girls and women — starting with myself.

    Yes, I have a story, too. NOBODY is untouched by the damage of the cultural oppressions around body size and image, at least nobody growing up in Western Culture.

    I’ve always been on the “thin” side of the spectrum, but spent most of my life at war with my body nonetheless. Particularly after I dove into the world of dance at 16, I was never thin *enough* (in my mind). Healthy, vibrant bodyweight felt “obese” to me, and I suffered with the pain of nearly a decade of bulimia — a disease I came to learn has much in common with any other addiction, except that the “substance” (ie, food) is not one you can just quit!

    The misery I went through is not anything I would wish on my worst enemy. And the healing process was long and challenging, filled with set-backs.

    Even today, after decades of therapy, co-counseling, feminist theory and ongoing spiritual self-growth work, the demons still sometimes pop up. Thankfully, all those years of inner work have given me tools to deal with it when they do, so I no longer spiral into a cycle of damaging behavior.

    So much of our food and body issues, our self-hatred, boils down to the insidious workings of sexism — so prevalent everywhere you look, and so hard to nail down because, growing up swimming in the soup of it, it seems “normal.” That’s just “how women are supposed to be,” right?

    Wrong. But getting someone to see that is rarely as easy as just telling them. We’re fighting a behemoth.

    But I like what the Talmud says: “If you save one life, it is as if you have saved the whole world.” Amen to that.

    Sue Ann, you are saving the world, and I applaud you. And count me among your compatriots!!


    • Sue Ann Gleason
      Sue Ann Gleason March 17, 2012 at 2:12 pm #

      Melissa, your words are very powerful. So much depth here and so much insight. But the line that really resonated with me this morning: “So much of our food and body issues, our self-hatred … so prevalent everywhere you look, and so hard to nail down because, growing up swimming in the soup of it, it seems “normal.” That’s just “how women are supposed to be,” right?”

      I (we) have a very different view of how women are “supposed” to be. I think we are waking up and questioning some of the messages we’ve been fed. It creates a stir. I see women in my practice expressing anger, even rage at the industries that keep us trapped in this weight loss war zone. I have to believe that there is a movement afoot here and that we are READY to expose the insidious nature of advertising and cultural oppression that threatens to unravel us all.

      I am heartened by this video because it was created by a YOUNG MAN who shared with his mother these words: “To me it seems like a beautiful woman is not what is in those pictures… is NOT what is in those magazines. A beautiful woman to me is a healthy weight.”

      That gives me such hope for our youth. Now if we can only ensure that our girls “hear” these messages from ALL of us, both men and women. As women, as mothers, we have an even bigger job to do because we are the “models” our girls are witnessing. These conversations run deep. I am sure they will stir up myriad emotions. Thank you for taking the time to respond.

  14. nasrine March 17, 2012 at 5:51 pm #

    This STORY NEEDS to be told and retold over and over again. What a thought provoking video, post and words. I have watched the video, which was bittersweet in so many ways. Even as the girl at the end walks barefoot into the sun, I am still haunted by what has just unraveled. I have been told that I am too fat or too skinny, too dark, too exotic looking, too odd, simply that I was NOT enough many different times in my life. Each time it hurt. I just yearn to be healthy in every aspect of my existence. Too often I am struggling with even the basics. I am moving so fast in and out of nations, cultures, the way people walk around the block. But in those moments I think to myself am I moving too fast? And as I slow down, I gracefully put my feet up and think to myself “I am enough, I do enough, I have enough.” And many times, my own voice shakes but I know I need to remind myself, due to the times I was not reminded that I was indeed enough. As the title of your blog reminds us, every time we log on to it, that we need to simply be conscious of what we put into our bodies and that we ALL need to have a body that not only works, but thrives.

    • Sue Ann Gleason
      Sue Ann Gleason March 18, 2012 at 12:33 am #

      Yes, Nasrine. We ARE enough. And every time I look at the photo on your facebook page of that beautiful little girl walking into your outstretched arms I see hope and joy and victory. For despite the terrible messages you endured as a beautiful innocent child, YOU are creating a luscious legacy for your daughter and I see that in EVERYTHING you do and say as you feel your way through this mysterious world of yours. You live in a space we can only imagine and yet you manage to bring light and laughter to all who know you. Yes, put your feet up and remind me to do the same because consciousness means being present in all that we do. Even at rest. Much love to you and thank you for responding to this post.

  15. Rebecca Walker March 18, 2012 at 4:41 am #

    I’m finally getting around to sharing my “story” like I said I would. I have had a love/hate relationship with food ever since I was old enough to really be “aware” of my body. I went on my first diet when I was 11. I was not “fat” and no one prompted me to do so. No one in my life that I remember made negative remarks or implied that I was even “chubby.” I was–always have been–internally motivated. I made the decision myself that I wanted to be less round and more lean, and I wanted to be able to be better at sports like my friends at the time. Over the course of a 3-month summer, using only exercise and cutting back on sweets, I lost 14 pounds and went from 92 lbs to what was actually, for my height, a much healthier 78 lbs. At that point my mother did persuade me that I had lost enough, and I was quite pleased with how I looked and felt. That feeling lasted about three years.

    Then I began to “develop,” and with that came body fat and curves where I would rather not have had them. My body “type” is largely determined by genetics and how I grew up eating, and I have spent much of my adult life battling against that through food obsession and exercise. I managed to maintain “normal” weight gain during two pregnancies that resulted in 8 1/2 pound babies and managed to lose the weight both times. The second time, mostly due to exhaustion and illness, I lost more than intended and, ironically, was thrilled to be a size 6 for the first time since I was 13.

    Gradually, though, as I hit my 40s, my body decided it wasn’t going to maintain that smallness, and I “resigned myself” to moving up to a size 8. I know, I know. A lot of women would be like, “Oh, bummer.” But remember, this is all a battle raging WITHIN me. I knew I would never be a size 2 like many movie actresses, and I knew my thin face wouldn’t look good if I was. But I wanted to be MY thinnest. AND, unfortunately, I also wanted to be able to eat normally. In my experience, those two things did not go hand-in-hand. I could eat what my Dad would call “rabbit food,” which did not really gratify me, and be the number I wanted to be. Or I could eat the rich, luscious foods my taste buds and mind craved and be chubby. Lose-lose as far as I could–and can–see.

    In 2011, pretty much the entire year was one of “ginormous” stress for me, watching my mother persevere through major health problems and end up losing her mobility and simultaneously watching my Dad age overnight due to his overwhelming fear of losing her, and being primary caretaker for both them and my own husband and two boys. I watched in the mirror and learned the truth of the “stress hormone” cortisol and its contribution to belly fat as my own waistline expanded by two inches in spite of continued exercise and food monitoring.

    Now, in my 50th year, I still struggle with not being satisfied with my own body and am pretty much resigned to never being really okay with it. I simply try not to look at myself for too long in the mirror and opt for occasions where I can wear “stretchy” pants as much as possible. (Know that I say this with some humor, as I am also quite aware that I am far from hideously unattractive. I’m just not physically what I’d PREFER to see reflected.) It helps that I’ve never thought of myself as a “bombshell” or model material. I’ve always relied more on my intellect and sense of humor. I am also lucky that, through all my internal struggles, I’ve raised two teenage boys who value me and other females for their personalities far more than their physical assets.

    I just wish sometimes that I could be hypnotized into not enjoying food. Then I could be like my 17 year-old son, who actually “forgets” to eat (?!?!) and frequently would rather not be bothered. That attitude–plus the metabolism of a 17 year-old boy–are among my late-in-life dreams.

    • Sue Ann Gleason
      Sue Ann Gleason March 18, 2012 at 4:58 pm #

      Thank you so much, Rebecca, for a very thoughtful response to this post. It really illuminates what so many of us experience around our bodies. We “resign” ourselves to being a larger size and try not to look in the mirror hoping our personality and heart will outshine our physique. The sad thing about the “number” is that sizes are so misleading. I have so many sizes in my closet. THEY ALL FIT. Hmmmmmmmmm. This battle that rages within us is fierce. It keeps us from noticing our beauty. It keeps us from loving ourselves unconditionally and seeing what others see when they view us. I say this with the utmost respect for your process because it has been (is) my process as well. My desire, for all of us, is that we begin to “practice” looking at food through different eyes. I view food as nourishment (even when it is delicious, rich, and luscious) rather than something to be feared or controlled. It is much more peaceful place to live. I’m grateful to be here.

      And then there is stress. Stress is HUGE. In addition to all that we know about stress and VAT (visceral belly fat), every time we look at a meal with angst, we actually CREATE a stress physiology that keeps us from digesting the meal efficiently, adding to the struggle. So I say we start there. Eat only what you can savor. Begin with a conscious plate. One meal at a time. One luscious bite at a time. . .

      • Rebecca Walker March 18, 2012 at 6:08 pm #

        Sue Ann–Thank you for understanding and relating to my story both on its over- and undertones. And it is a process I am STILL working THROUGH. I am honest enough with myself to understand that, though I have never starved myself a’la anorexia or binged and purged (I hate throwing up too much), I define my relationship with food as a “disorder” because of the fear and control you mention. I hope to heal from this and to be able to see myself the way others claim they see me. (You can tell that’s hard for me, and isn’t that silly at my age?) But I am totally on board with more of a “Strong is the new Skinny” or “Healthy is the new Skinny” movement. And I am PROUD of my sons and their views on women. My 17 year-old’s first girlfriend is neither fat nor skinny (HE thinks it’s silly that women worry about it) and not model pretty. But they converse and laugh like good friends and he treats her chivalrously, and I know that I did something right.

        • Sue Ann Gleason
          Sue Ann Gleason March 18, 2012 at 8:00 pm #

          “But they converse and laugh like good friends and he treats her chivalrously, and I know that I did something right.” ♥¸.•*¨`*•♫♪♫♪ to my ears, Rebecca, music to my ears.

  16. Karen Schachter March 19, 2012 at 2:46 am #

    Hi Sue Ann!
    Wow, what a powerful video. It was hard for me to watch to the end as well, although I was glad I did.

    We’ve had this conversation before and I’m glad you’re bringing it to light here. We are very much on the same page;)

    As you know, this is my passion, my mission, my purpose here;) I have a daughter, and I work with moms of daughters every day…I see the anguish, the pain and the wish: we all want things to be different for our girls. We don’t want them to experience the pain, the suffering, the angst, the insecurity that we did. Yet everywhere we look, it feels like we are alone in this wish. In a culture that preaches “anti-obesity” but markets junk food; in a culture that preaches “self-esteem” but markets “perfection” — it is more and more important that we women join together so our daughters hear our voices of sanity over the ROAR of the media.

    But we must embrace the truth first ourselves (our own essential “good enough-ness”), which is not easy, when we too are victims of the same messages. We must learn to “be the change we wish to see in our daughters.” (Thanks, Ghandi)

    Here’s my story (the short version;): I first learned to diet in 7th grade – when my body changed with puberty (which is a normal response of bodies, but our culture doesn’t allow us to embrace these changes in a health way, does it?!). I learned to diet from my mother who learned it from hers…who learned it probably from her husband (who was a “doctor” ;);)

    That diet, as many do, turned into a binge, which turned into another diet, and so on…until I discovered purging. For 9 years: diet, binge, purge…Not fun.

    Luckily, I was able to recover, and through that recovery, discover bits and pieces of the truth – about myself and about what led to those years of struggle.

    And as a mom of a daughter; and as a therapist and health counselor who has worked for years with women and girls struggling with the whole gamut of disordered eating, I know deep in my heart that if we have any hope to change things for our daughters, we must change the conversation, as you say here. We must begin to see that so much of this is constructed culturally as a way to keep women feeling like crap (so we buy more stuff, so we can finally feel good enough); but we can not do this alone. I do think a change of conscioussness is underfoot – more and more awareness of the craziness of this outdated, disempowering, deadly way of thinking that keeps girls and women “small” in their lives. Enough of us are sick of it!

    You asked for different – empowering, positive – words. I just a few weeks ago created something called “The Un-Diet for Moms and Daughters.” It’s also a movement, but started with a little “handout” which I’d be happy to share if you’d like. It highlights the “diet” words/feelings/experiences and the “un-diet” words/feelings/experience,which are very aligned with the “skinny” vs. “healthy” conversation. (I don’t want this to feel like self-promotion, so I am not posting it here, but since our mission is similar, please let me know if you’d like to share it;)…

    Thanks for speaking out so clearly against the insanity.

    • Sue Ann Gleason
      Sue Ann Gleason March 19, 2012 at 11:48 pm #

      Thank you so much for reading this post and responding with such heart, Karen. Yes, we are definitely kindred spirits in this mission and I have so appreciated the conversations we’ve had and the mission we share. The words that really struck me in your response: “In a culture that preaches “anti-obesity” but markets junk food; in a culture that preaches “self-esteem” but markets “perfection” — it is more and more important that we women join together so our daughters hear our voices of sanity over the ROAR of the media.” Beautifully stated because that ROAR is not just loud, it’s seductive.

      As you know I very much see the “learned” behavior that gets passed down from mothers to daughters with regard to dieting. I lived it and now I observe it in my practice. I feel so hopeful when I see my clients recognizing this predicament without guilt or shame but rather with curiosity and then resolve. As we become more conscious of our own beliefs and early programming around food, we’re better equipped to provide our daughters with healthier role models and conversations around food and body image.

      Let’s keep the dialogue going shall we? I would be happy to share your “Un-Diet for Moms and Daughters” with my readers. Perhaps you’d be willing to take part in my Well-Nourished Woman interview series. That would be a perfect place for our work to cross-pollinate don’t you think? Thank you for the work you are doing in the world and for gracing my page with your presence.

      • Karen Schachter March 20, 2012 at 12:19 pm #

        Thanks so much for your response, Sue Ann! We are kindred spirits;)
        i so agree with what you said about we moms recognizing our unconscious programming WITHOUT guilt or shame. There is so much “mom-blaming” done in our culture as well, and that is just one of the things that keep women feeling “shame” and not good enough. (And that is NOT what we want to pass down to our daughters either!) Every mom I’ve ever worked with is doing her best and wants the very best for her daughters. I am sure you are amazingly gentle as you help women uncover that early programming and bring it into the light, so they can make changes….which can then change the legacy…
        A beautiful cycle, instead of a damaging one.

        And YES, I would love to take part in your Well-Nourished Women interview series. Would be so much fun and I’d be truly honored! Let’s talk soon, xoxo

  17. Paula Kiger March 30, 2012 at 6:36 pm #

    Sue Ann, thank you for this and for introducing me to this video (and these other women). I wish I had time to even start on my story but I don’t right now – just wanted to acknowledge your work. THANK YOU.

    • Sue Ann Gleason
      Sue Ann Gleason April 1, 2012 at 12:15 am #

      Thank you for reading and responding to this blog post, Paula. I hope you’ll tell me your story some day when the time is right.


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