Eating Disorders/Healing, Guest Posts, Jen Pastiloff, Jen's Musings

The Struggle Is Real: Body Love.

June 1, 2015

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By Jen Pastiloff

Body image. Self-love. The struggle is real. Or can be. I keep seeing that hashtag everywhere. #Thestruggleisreal. In this case it is.

But it doesn’t have to be.

What if we embraced our bodies? What if we loved our bodies, belly rolls and wrinkles and grey hairs and our butts and our teeth (even the one that’s missing because you never got an implant, Jennifer.) What if?

The struggle is real. Especially for me, having dealt with severe anorexia and exercise bulimia (I used to work out for four to five hours a day. Really.) But maybe it is for you too. I shared this video on my Facebook (the one below) and it got over 70 thousand hits in a few days. So I guess the struggle is real for more than a few of us. I’m not that special. (Isn’t that just a wondrous epiphany- when we realize that we aren’t that special? It’s so freeing! Weeeee! I am not alone in my fucked-upedness.)

What if our bodies became our best friends? As my friend Wren Thompson-Wynn wrote here on this very site, “My body. It’s the only one who has been with me and experienced everything with me through my entire life. No one knows me like my body does. She really should be my best friend. So why don’t I let her be?”

I realized that in writing Girl Power: You Are Enough, and in leading these workshops, that I have to be held accountable. I have to walk the talk, as they say. whoever “they” are, the powers that be, the ones who watch over you and call you out for being full of shit. I can’t sit here feeling my stomach fall over my waistband and have it send me into a panic induced slump of feeling worthless. That rabbit hole is hard as hell to emerge from. I lived in it for years. I wore platform shoes and waited tables on concrete floors as I secretly grabbed my fat rolls and vowed, “Tomorrow I will not eat. Tomorrow I will be good.”

I saw a video last week that broke my heart. This 37 year old woman, Rachel Farrokh, was begging people to help her raise money so she could get treatment for her anorexia. She weighs 45 pounds, her husband has to carry her up and down the stairs because she is so weak. As I watched it, I said, “I was never that bad.” And I wasn’t. But it’s not hard to imagine. That rabbit hole. There it is again. Just a little more and I will be happy. Just a little more and I will be in control. Just a little more and I will be perfect. Just a little more and I will be enough. <<< BULLSHIT.

You never arrive at the destination of “Yes, I am finally here. I finally love myself,” by starving yourself. NEVER.

I hope she gets the help she needs, I really do.

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So I made this video on set (aka my living room) and people went crazy for it. I wanted to barf a little as I was making it and immediately after but I posted it anyway. You can watch below right here.

 

I didn’t post the video to get compliments or to have people justify my not-fatness. I posted it as an act of defiance. I posted it an an act of bravery, because despite what anyone thinks, and truly it does not matter anyway what “they” say, my body has often been a source of shame and pain. I have often hid the parts of me I don’t feel are beautiful (my stomach, grey hair, etc) and this video was just a way for me to say Fuck hiding. I embrace myself. Because really people, it’s all we got. Why is that so hard for us to comprehend? This body is the only one we get for this lifetime. So yea, I grabbed my belly and made my fat talk. Because you also have to have a sense of humor or you are truly fucked.

I challenge you with this blog post to accept your body. No matter what. Whether you have cellulite or stretch marks or a few extra pounds. Whether you have crows feet or grey hair or you spent too much time baking in the sun with Crisco when you were a teen. Whether you have long legs or short ones or you are an amputee. Whether you are androgynous, whether you have big boobs or small ones, or hell, any boobs at all. Whether you are 12 or 16 or 67 or 98. But my gosh, if you are 98 and you read my blog, can we go get a drink together? A hot toddy? A brandy? Cause you are rad. You are 98!! And you are enough.

I challenge you to challenge what we have been taught, what has been embedded into our psyches on a deep cellular level, and that is that you must look a certain way to be beautiful. I call bullshit. The strive for perfection is a myth because there is no such thing, it’s simply a way to keep us all striving like rats on a wheel. More weight off. More this, less that. I will be better, I will look younger, I will fit in, I will be beautiful, one day, one day, one day, one day. One day is now.

One day is here. It’s a Monday. It’s June. It’s bathing suit season so put on your bloody bathing suit, no scratch that, put on your birthday suit, yea, that’s right, buck naked. Stand there in the buff and stand in awe at the godamned miracle that you are. Bear witness to your body and its strength and beauty and even if it makes you weep because my God, this is so hard, this feels so corny, I can’t stand here and look at my body and admire it, if only my butt was a little higher, if only I had two more inches on me, why is this Jennifer person asking us to do this, this is weird and awkward and I hate my body, even if that is you, do it anyway. Because no matter what you think, or what you have been made to think, or what you have bought into it- You Are Enough.

Who you are has nothing to do with what you look like. It has nothing to do with your jiggle or your nose or your skin.

I challenge you to share this blog and video. I challenge you to make your own. I challenge you to post it in the comments or on my Facebook or instagram or wherever the hell, who cares really, just do it, post what you love about your body, about yourself. Declare today, Monday June 1st, The I Love My Body Day. Is that too corny for you? You can call it The I Hate My Body Day. It’s on you, whatever you decide.

As for me, I prefer the first holiday. I am going to declare this a national holiday.

In fact, go home from work.

You can have the rest of the day off. It’s a holiday and all.

And if you are in the rabbit hole as you are reading this, well here- here is a rope. I am throwing it down for you. You have to do some of the work though. I refuse to crawl back down there. When you start to see light, you have emerged. I will be there waiting with a glass of wine or coffee or tea or whatever you drink. And a big body squashing hug. And together we will keep putting one foot in front of the other, we will keep declaring war on self-loathing, we will keep reminding each other what is apparently quite easy to forget.

And that is: That we are enough.

Love, Jen xox

I have one spot open for my Tuscany retreat at the end of the month and three for the fall retreat. Apply here.

Book Girl Power: You Are Enough now! Space is limited. Sep 19 Princeton!

Book Girl Power: You Are Enough now! Space is limited. Sep 19 Princeton!

Do you want the space and joy to get back into your body? To get into your words and stories?  Join Jen Pastiloff and best-selling author Lidia Yuknavitch over Labor Day weekend 2015 for their 2nd Writing & The Body Retreat in Ojai, California following their last one, which sold out in 48 hours. You do NOT have to be a writer or a yogi.  "So I’ve finally figured out how to describe Jen Pastiloff's Writing and the Body yoga retreat with Lidia Yuknavitch. It’s story-letting, like blood-letting but more medically accurate: Bleed out the stories that hold you down, get held in the telling by a roomful of amazing women whose stories gut you, guide you. Move them through your body with poses, music, Jen’s booming voice, Lidia’s literary I’m-not-sorry. Write renewed, truthful. Float-stumble home. Keep writing." ~ Pema Rocker, attendee of Writing & The Body Feb 2015

Do you want the space and joy to get back into your body?
To get into your words and stories? Join Jen Pastiloff and best-selling author Lidia Yuknavitch over Labor Day weekend 2015 for their 2nd Writing & The Body Retreat in Ojai, California following their last one, which sold out in 48 hours. You do NOT have to be a writer or a yogi.
“So I’ve finally figured out how to describe Jen Pastiloff’s Writing and the Body yoga retreat with Lidia Yuknavitch. It’s story-letting, like blood-letting but more medically accurate: Bleed out the stories that hold you down, get held in the telling by a roomful of amazing women whose stories gut you, guide you. Move them through your body with poses, music, Jen’s booming voice, Lidia’s literary I’m-not-sorry. Write renewed, truthful. Float-stumble home. Keep writing.” ~ Pema Rocker, attendee of Writing & The Body Feb 2015

The 12 Day Detox is here. Sign up now for June 20th cleanse. Space is limited. This detox comes at just the perfect time. Reprogram your body and mind as we move into the new season of spring. This is your time of rejuvenation and renewal.This is not a juice fast, or a detox based on deprivation.

The 12 Day Detox is here. Sign up now for June 20th cleanse. Space is limited. This detox comes at just the perfect time. Reprogram your body and mind as we move into the new season of spring. This is your time of rejuvenation and renewal.This is not a juice fast, or a detox based on deprivation.

Featured image courtesy of Joe Longo.

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9 Comments

  • Reply Sherri Schroeder June 1, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    Jen, amazing and spot on, as usual. YAY for your courage in posting. Seriously, love your belly talking. I talk to mine, a lot. I agree, I have been there with anorexia and full on bulemia and all of the control issues. Now I am working in retail and am freaking out about my weight again. Argh! It never ends.
    THANK YOU for posting, your courage, your honesty and promoting authenticity to girls of all ages.
    🙂 Hugs to you,
    Sherri

  • Reply sherri June 1, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    I struggle to hold back the tears – my soul is weeping – drowning in the pain of deep sadness. Today is to be my day to turn it around – to stop hating my fat, my body, my imperfections – to stop eating to supress – to stop eating to soothe – to stop eating to make the pain all go away. I have eaten myself into sickness. I have worked very hard at gaining this weight (physical and mental). I have acknowledged every pound and the sacrifice of self-esteem that each and every bite has symbolized. I feel buried under the weight – suffocating – gasping for life. Locked up to my mind is the ideal that when I lose the weight all will be okay – it will be better – things will be great. I won’t compare my faults to other’s strengths. I will be able to walk outside and not obsess about my reflection – my sweaty, rubbing thighs – my lack-lustre frizzy hair – my bad, tortured skin – my thick, bubbling over waist. Without the extra weight – I will be free. But it is me that has locked myself up – it is me that sets the torture – it is me that is in total control – it is me that tells myself “I am not enough”. This struggle is mine – I have created it – and now I must destroy it.

  • Reply Barbara Potter June 2, 2015 at 12:07 am

    Love, love, love.

  • Reply Malika June 2, 2015 at 5:09 pm

    I love this, loooooooovvvvvvvveeeeeeeee love it, thankyouthankyouthankyou, what beautiful strong inspiring rich golden gift heartled spirit lifting loveliness 🙂

  • Reply Maria June 2, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    I want to be able to feel this way! Truly, every day I wake up and tell myself who cares what you look like! Then the day progresses and my body starts to hurt because that is what it does, it hurts a lot, and then as it hurts I start getting mad at it and then I start to verbally abuse it in my head. I never expected to hurt so much or be so aware of weight or feel so separate from myself. I was a ballet dancer. I was always skinny. Always! I was the thinnest person in every class, grade, school. I had no butt and no boobs and no period until I was 14 and I was made fun of for all those things. I was asked over and over if I had an eating disorder but I didn’t I just danced many hours a day every day and had a very fast metabolism. At 18 I had a baby, and I put on lots of weight but it evaporated as soon as my daughter was born leaving me with stretch marks all over my hips and butt and a stomach that looked like a stretched out sheet with a c -section incision. No matter how much I danced or how toned my stomach became underneath the skin, the skin itself never went back. And don’t get me started on the boobs! Less than a B cup turned into double Ds overnight and I nursed my daughter for a year! It left me with boobs I have been ashamed of ever since. I’ve never worn a bikini or felt comfortable being naked. That first baby was born in 1994. My second daughter was born in 2006. And I was older and my body was even less interested in bouncing back so the stomach and the marks and the boobs all looked as miserable as before but I couldn’t lose the weight and have been struggling with it ever since. I went from a 6 to a 12 and was devastated. Then we moved to Florida 3 years ago and I went from a 12 to a 16! And I try everything but I can’t lose weight. I stop in every mirror I pass to see if I look better or different. In the last 5 years I have had 2 hernia operations, 1 spine surgery and 2 foot surgeries, all stemming from ballet/dance injuries but I refuse to not dance because it is the only time my body feels at home. Even though to see myself I don’t look like a dancer anymore, and I had my husband build me a ballet barre so could remain behind closed doors to continue to dance and maybe even lose weight without anyone watching me and judging me. But in less than a week I am flying home to Philly with my younger daughter and I know everyone is going to look at me differently. Some of my older relatives will undoubtedly tell me I have put on weight. And everyone will be thinking that I look so different because everyone sees me as the skinny ballerina. It’s such a devastating feeling!
    Your video made me laugh and cry and I know you are right. And even though I never had an eating disorder I realize now that weight and body image have always ruled me in some way. And I miss my ballet body. I miss not having a butt and not having boobs, even though I always wanted both when I didn’t have them. I just wish I could figure it all out. And I wish I didn’t give a shit. And I don’t know how not to. But I love that you get it and I love reading your posts and watching your videos, so thank you.

  • Reply It’s June already??!! | latebloomlisa June 2, 2015 at 8:32 pm

    […] http://www.themanifeststation.net/2015/06/01/the-struggle-is-real-body-love/ THIS POST, YOU GUYS. Jennifer at TheManifeststation.net is speaking some real truths. I felt this post hit me somewhere deep, recalling how upset I was when I stepped on the scale to see how much weight I’ve gained with my medication change (hint: it’s not as much as my mind wants to make it out to be). I applaud her bravery for posting the video, too. I mean, I blog anonymously so I am in awe, for sure. I want to write about my journey with this a little bit more in the future, once I can really figure out “the feels” I’m having are. […]

  • Reply g June 9, 2015 at 9:03 am

    I’m curious why you isolate bulimics? “That’s just one I don’t get” you say…as if anorexia or compulsive exercising is so different. I have been all three and was interested in your post that -on it’s own- popped up on my fb feed…
    We are all struggling and the mind is the issue (as you eluded to) not the nature of the illness.
    I guess I just wanted to put it out there, anorexia is no “better” or well understood than any other eating disorder…they are all mental illnesses…

    • Reply Jennifer Pastiloff June 9, 2015 at 10:46 am

      Hi. What I meant was I tried it and I couldn’t get it. I guess I worded it wring. I do not think there is a hierarchy. xx

  • Reply Jess June 18, 2015 at 2:21 am

    This work your doing- it’s so important. Thank you for bring up the hard stuff. The stuff that people prefer to leave in the shadows. And thank you for doing it with the grace, honesty, and humor that makes it accessible to all.
    I am Enough.

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