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Excerpt from "Love or Diet"

What is a real woman anyway?

by Ani Richardson

We all come in different shapes and sizes. It is about time we celebrated that, celebrated one another and stopped wasting precious time and energy on envy or comparison. I am 5’7” and I am naturally quite slender (not skinny). At the height of my stuffing episodes I was bigger but it wasn’t the weight or shape that upset me (although in my mind I was huge), it was the fact that I was binging when I wasn’t hungry, I was giving my power away to an outside force, food, in the belief that it would ‘save me’ from myself. When really, what was needed was for me to love myself, to look within, to use the empowered self that is, and always was and will be, precious and there for me. So, I am not a large girl, I don’t weigh myself and don’t own a set of scales so I have no idea what my weight is. I have long-ish legs, small breasts and a bigger bum and hips in comparison to my top-half, I am not really curvaceous. I am beautiful in my own way.

When you read that I am slender what do you feel? Do you think ‘she won’t understand,’ ‘she’s lucky,’ ‘she’s a bitch?’Well, I have been through eating disorders (anorexia and bulimia), depression, and emotional eating episodes, I have a deep compassion for your struggle. I also have a progressive autoimmune condition, which could attack any organ of my body and impacts me on a daily basis.

Comparison is painful; it breeds self-hatred and reduces compassion, for ourselves and others. Comparison also makes us less available, to ourselves and to the people in our lives – because it takes up so much time and mental space to constantly compare! It is an illusion to think that ‘when I am thin I’ll be happy’ that is simply not true. We can all choose happiness and life in the now. I have been through really depressive episodes, just like you, pain and strife, just like you. None of this has anything to do with size or shape.

When we begin to love ourselves, when our emotional eating calms down, our bodies find their balance. Each of us will have a different, unique, shape and size and that will also change over time. When you love yourself deeply and completely, when you embrace the whole of who you are, then you will find a sweetness that has nothing to do with size.

Go on, I dare you. Love yourself. The only thing stopping you is you.

We are all women. We all laugh. We all cry. We all feel pain. We all know joy. Is it not time now to stop compartmentalizing ourselves by our shape and weight? It really is time for us to celebrate one another and stop the fanfare of envious comparisons, ridicule and hurt.

What does the term ‘real woman’ mean to you? Are your thoughts on this matter empowering or dis-empowering? Could you begin to change your thinking and expand your notions about what being a woman really means to you?

The issues with food are deep. It’s as though; if we do not fit the ideal then we must be fundamentally flawed. Who set the ‘ideal?’

You can reset your own ideals. It is not true that you are somehow ‘bad,’ ‘wrong’ or whatever if you are not a waif. It is simply not true that men all want the same thing in a woman, and if they did then so what? YOU have to love on yourself. Marry yourself internally. When you start eating due to true physical hunger signals and listening to what the body wants you will change shape and eventually your body will settle into a place of peace, and that place is different for every single person. Short, tall, slim, curvy, you will find a place where your body sighs and all is well and you won’t care that you are not a size six with huge breasts or whatever the particular penchant is that day. Women are women, we are beautiful and we are different and we have to rock the body we have.

Ani Richardson is a passionate and highly qualified nutritionist, holistic wellness promoter, meditation teacher, writer and founder of Nurture With Love (www.nurturewithlove.com). Ani combines her (MSc) in Nutritional Medicine with her psychosynthesis and meditation qualifications to provide truly holistic support for women choosing to explore and transform their emotional eating patterns.

Love or Diet - Nurture yourself and release the need to be comforted by food, is published by Sassy Books, October 25th. ISBN: 978-1-78279-091-4 (Paperback) £12.99 $22.95, EISBN: 978-1-78279-090-7 (eBook) £6.99 $9.99.

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