Phenomenal Woman, thats me…  

Phenomenal Woman
Maya AngelouPretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman

Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Excerpts from recent empirically based papers…

Confidence is everything. In the Western society, some degree of body dissatisfaction rather than a beaming confidence has become the norm. Confidence and body dissatisfaction are like oil and vinegar; they just do not mix. Did you know that a woman’s size zero in U.S. clothing denotes possible anorexic behaviors? A body mass index (BMI) under normal levels is required in such a body size. A BMI under normal levels denotes starvation or other compensatory behaviors. Self-starvation and compensatory behaviors denotes an eating disorder.

In today’s society, it is more normal than abnormal to have body image concerns (Kiang & Harter, 2005). Women are more likely to be evaluated based on their appearance. A significant number of females see themselves as needing to be thinner to be optimally attractive (Koch, Mansfield, Thurau, & Carey, 2005). For some women, the fear of fat combined with a subsequent development of body dissatisfaction will cause extreme eating and dieting behaviors. Obsessive thinking, embarrassment, depression and feelings of guilt and disgust often accompany such behaviors (Yarber, Sayad, & Strong, 2010).

Negative evaluations from others can be fear-provoking. In eating disordered persons, this fear can create catastrophic beliefs regarding appearance, food and social interactions. Lack of self-worth is fueled by determinants of all-or-nothing thinking. A sense of immense failure, guilt, grief and shame can easily take over the disordered eaters mind (Lethbridge, Watson, Egan, Street & Nathan, 2011, in press).
Positive related feedback will sometimes be searched for elsewhere when it is not found in oneself, i.e. from a sexual partner. While this behavior is done as approval seeking behavior, it can also lead to perceived failure and guilt. Thus, feedback seeking behavior that does not produce positive responses may intensify eating disorder symptomology and the negative body image that goes along with it (Lethbridge, Watson, Egan, Street & Nathan, 2011, in press).

Because the media bears such a strong influential force, the body images portrayed become thee standard. This blatant display from media presents a great pressure to conform to the thin-ideal. “The adoption of a thin ideal body shape…has opened the door to the pursuit of thinness-at-all-costs attitude” (Williamson, Martin & Stewart, 2004, p. 1079). These pressures and displays are shown to significantly increase body dissatisfaction (Stice & Whitenton, 2002) and perfection-seeking behaviors (Lethbridge, Watson, Egan, Street & Nathan, 2011, in press). Because “cultural prejudice…is directed especially to women” (Haavio-Mannila & Purhonen, 2002, p.102), a growing number of young women strive for this societal-deemed “perfect” body standard (Tissot & Crowther, 2009).

My sorority, my start…  

I used to wonder if being in a sorority was ever the right thing for me… until just the other day.

I am a Kappa Delta alumnae from the University of South Florida. I have felt guilty with my participation, or lack there of, since even before I became an alumnae. Looking back, I did what I could handle. And, sometimes, all I could handle was a little.

Sure, I was on the executive board for 2 different years, once as Panhellenic Delegate and once as the Vice President-Standards. I lived in the house (well, I certainly never lived there…but, I did rent 1/2 of a room for 1/2 of my USF career). I attended Sunday chapter meetings and some socials. I paid my dues. I wore letters and smiled while I wore them. But, gosh… what a jovial faux I lived on in those Kay and Dee letters…

Hmmm, WOW… ummm, yeah… come to think of it… I was VP-Standards, aka Risk Management. This is where the epiphany comes into play… The realization that that VP position was the beginning of this present rise.

Sure, at the time, I was falling… falling fast into my then wretchedly twisted path of disordered eating and perfection seeking and plain out body dysmorphia!

But, still, I did rise… (Thank you, God, for teaching me and humbling to this point of being able to give myself credit. Here goes…) As VP Standards, one of my tasks was to design and present or invite a speaker to present risk management seminars. One risk management seminar I designed for my Kappa Delta sisters was about the risk of developing Eating Disorders as a college student. I spoke and I taught, I presented and I disclosed, all about the most devastating topic in my life, my disordered eating and disordered eating in general. What I didn’t do is realize and admit to how much of a problem it still was for me at that present time. No, I didn’t tell the truth about that…

That’s really how this all started…in 2006. I just didn’t know what had started. But, here I am, in mid-2011 and, here it goes…

Here I go and, I. Am. NOT. Stopping!

Here, in present time, I am looking to go further. My most passionate of missions is seeking to grow personally and professionally and to grow through Eating to Live, Not the Alternative. So, naturally, for my hopeful start at public speaking, I am going to my roots. My Delta Eta, Kappa Delta roots. I am seeking to do the same thing I did when I started before I even knew I started! But, Better!Bigger! And, with a-whole-lot more perfectly-imperfectly seriously-personal education.

My will and my hope is to start really using my passion to fulfill my ultimately divine purpose: Promoting positive body image and the prevention and awareness of eating disorders. I hope to start where I left off…right in the very same Kappa Delta chapter room at the University of South Florida. All they, my new never-have-been-met KD sisters, have to do is say yes to my risk-management guest-speaking request…and, I’m off… Off to touch some lives!

What an amazingly fulfilling life I will lead if I can just speak and touch and show and tell and promote and, God willing, prevent and educate!

Please, God, let the public speaking begin for: Promoting positive body image and the prevention and awareness of eating disorders.

Prayers are welcomed 🙂

Flabbergasted and blogging…  

This blog… this internet-based blog… is nothing short of AMAZING.

I have received messages from people residing in different cities, different states, even different countries. I am humbled and astounded to say that I have effected lives. In just weeks, I have been able to do such a wondrous thing.

I have been blessed with a divine opportunity to affect lives… what did I ever do to deserve such an honor? All the suffering in the world is worth this present…this honor and gift and ultimate purpose! This gift, this purpose…this is my passion.

What do you say to messages from people you don’t even know that tell you that you have affected and changed their life?

I am flabbergasted… yes. That is the only word I can think of right now… this weirdly unusual, rarely spoken word is all I can come up with. I am nothing short of flabbergasted.

I don’t know what else to say…

Except…

You Are Not Alone…
…You never were alone…
……You never will be alone…
………You never have to be alone…

Your feedback is my payment in priceless, immeasurable form.

Thank you. Yes, you.

I immensely and eternally thank my readers.

YOU… you will never be forgotten.

Did I really just say that…?  

So I had a crazy experience yesterday…

I was sitting in my Human Sexuality class faux journaling and preparing to write an overdue blog. I was writing how I’ve been thinking a bunch about my grandfather as of late. I think about the role I have come to realize he may have played in my development of poor body image. Rest his soul…I love him. But, he used to propose that if I lost weight, he would give me money for every pound I lost. I remember thinking I must really be some kind of disgrace or look horrible because even my grandfather, whom I know adores me, is basically coercing me and pleading for me to lose weight… it’s safe to say, this was not a positive regarding my development of a self-esteem (or, a lack there of I should more accurately say…).

Writing of that wasn’t the crazy thing… Something else occurred to me…

Now, I have already declared and am certain that I have gone through what I have for a divine purpose. As previously blogged and stated, I truly feel that I was destined to suffer so I could, with first-hand knowledge and experience, help others who suffer. Or, even better, propose prevention and awareness of such disorders… [and that is exactly where this “project” will be going soon! God willing…]

Speaking of God willing… that’s the crazy part. As I was writing about my grandfather’s proposal surrounding a plea of pre-teen weight-loss, I found myself literally leaning my head to the right, confused and saying to myself “hmmm… but… I gave it to God.” I submitted and left it in His hands and accepted my Holy and lamp-lighted path. So, was that supposed to happen, too? “And, wait a minute! Did I really just say that ‘outloud’ to myself? Did I just say, I gave it to God?!”

Wow… I have always been dumbfounded in the most humble way possible by that statement. It’s something true believers do… Christian believers say that. They say, “I couldn’t handle [it] so, I gave [it] to God.”
I have always thought, my gosh, how wonderfully freeing does that sound? I never ever understood it. How do you just say, ‘ehhh, I submit, I know I am not powerful enough to fully understand the things that happen on this Earth. So, I will leave it to that someone who is powerful enough to understand all somethings. I leave it and I give it to God…’
How relieving must that be!?! Knowing that you can submit and admit your human weakness and/or lack of understanding AND totally get away with it AND be freed of pressure and guilt and pain and shame.

Did I really just say that?!?

Did I do just that? Woah, I did! I just did that… I said it and I did it… I gave it to God. I declared that I don’t understand anything more or anything less than the divine fact that I WAS SUPPOSED to be that someone that worked through such experiences with disordered eating and poor body image and negative self-esteem AND I am SUPPOSED to dedicate my life to helping others work through theirs or just avoid developing such issues all together through awareness/prevention via ME!

(pause!…inhale!)

I gave it to God… and, as I have always imagined and assumed it would, it feels amazing and freeing and humbling and just divine!

I can and I do feel proud of my history because of the positive that is to come.

I can and I do feel thankful for my history because of the positive that is to come.

I can and I do feel privileged for my history because of the positive that is to come.

I can and I absolutely do feel blessed for my history because of the positive that is to come.

I am blessed… I am blessed to be in this body. I am blessed to be in this perfectly imperfect body with my (and her) perfectly imperfect past.

Thanks be to God. I said it…