I’ve been thinking a lot lately about healing. How do we heal ourselves, as women, from the societal pressure that’s been put on us since we were old enough to read?
As women, the odds are automatically stacked against us. We have to work twice as hard for the same reward. For women of color, it’s more like 4 times as hard. We have to deal with having periods once a month. We have to manage households and finances and families. We have to conform to what society wants us to be as far as the perfect wives, partners, mothers, etc.
From a young age, women are told to alter themselves emotionally and physically to fit a mold. We are told to wax our facial hair, but not too much that your eyebrows become single lines on your forehead. We are told to wear makeup to cover our facial imperfections, but not too much because that will make you look fake.
How do we cope and move on from the pressure of fitting the mold? The mold that harms and hurts and damages.
I was 11 the first time I made myself throw up. It was after a meal my mom had made. It was a delicious meal, but I ate too much and felt full. I saw in a magazine a story about a girl who lost 30 pounds from bulimia. The article wasn’t about using bulimia as a weight loss supplement, but the number 30 rang in my head. I wanted to lose 30 pounds. I wanted to lose the food in my stomach because it was making me look fat. I wanted to fit into the mold of what I thought was “the perfect woman.”
Long story short, I battled bulimia until college because I couldn’t stop comparing myself to other women, the women who looked nothing like me. It was a never ending battle until I decided that enough was enough and that society can go f**k itself. With the help of friends and a therapist, I was beginning to let go of this perfection I would never achieve.
I realized how much harm I had caused myself. How much anger, frustration, depression, and just plain HURT I felt inside. I needed to figure out how to heal from this.
So what does healing look like?
Healing looks like a few things:
- Accepting and understanding the scope and depth of your issue, disease, mental health disorder, etc. It’s realizing that you by yourself are powerless over these things and that it will take a lot of self-love and acceptance work to begin to heal from it.
- Telling someone about it. Talking to a trusted friend, family member, or therapist can help you heal from what you have faced. It’s not even for sympathy, but so that you can begin to hear yourself tell your story and further accept the pain.
- Finding ways to accept yourself as you are despite the pain you’ve been through. Even if you aren’t exactly where you want to be, you’re getting there by acknowledging your pain and your intent to heal.
As women, if we don’t learn how to heal from our past, we find it hard to look forward to our futures. No matter what you’ve been through, it is so important to take time for yourself to begin this process.
Find ways to heal yourself. Free yourself from the chains of societal norms that are put on you and chase your authentic self— stomach rolls and all. I promise, it’s worth it.