My new kind of vanity
It is my experience that when we talk about the “whys” of making life changes, we have a go-to reason. Health.
We want our loved ones to quit smoking for their health. We want them to eat right for their health. We want them to exercise for their health.
Maybe health is a good reason for some people, but I promise you, those people aren’t addicts. There is a saying that I love. “You can’t scare an addict.”
I was well on my way to being a diabetic when I was eating compulsively. That is not the reason I stopped eating compulsively. I smoked a pack a day for about 17 years. I knew that it was bad for me. That is not why I quit.
Every good decision I ever made for my life and my health was made in the name of vanity. And the longer I have my eating under control, the more my concept of vanity changes.
For example, for many many years, I would not leave the house without makeup. I had very strong feelings about what I looked like and how I wanted to project myself. But one day about 8 years ago, I left the house without it and got more attention than I usually did. That changed my views on my own vanity. Now, I almost never wear makeup. That is its own kind of vanity. I am vain about my natural beauty.
When I quit smoking, it was because I was looking to be in a relationship, and the guys that I was interested in weren’t interested in dating a smoker. I wanted to look like I had my shit together, so I got my shit together and quit smoking.
I am currently obsessed with my hair. When I stopped using traditional shampoo and started using cleansing conditioner, I discovered that my hair, which I had always thought was straight, is naturally wavy. I have started a new hair care regime that is, quite frankly, kind of a pain in the ass. But I love my naturally wavy hair. So I make the time.
When I was eating compulsively, I had lots of structures in place to project a specific me to the world. A lot of artifices to fit in. (Which is saying something, since I have always been at least a little on the fringe. Though some of those choices, I would realize once the food was taken care of, were artifices too…)
When I got my eating under control, I started to break down many of the structures I had put up, and I stepped into the real me. Who was both not as weird, and much much weirder, than the me I had been projecting.
In putting strict boundaries around my eating, and abstaining from simple sugar and carbs, I find that I am continually becoming more and more myself. And that is beautiful. But not always what I thought it would be.
For one thing, I am not skinny. Even with all of the rules and restrictions I have around food, and my regular exercise. And that one has sometimes been hard to let go of. But this body that I am in is really me. Not starving on a diet, not binging into oblivion. Just eating real, nutritious food, three times a day in specific portions.
And, like with the vanity of quitting makeup, there is a kind of vanity in loving my not-so-skinny body. Really, that is my new vanity. I am vain about the real me. The me in a real body with my real hair and my real face. And I grew into that vanity by getting my eating under control. By not covering myself up with fat, or paint, or artifices. Though I do still love a hot dress. I expect that will never change, but who knows. I’m open.