What Does the Women’s March on Washington Have To Do With Weight?

What Does the Women’s March on Washington Have To Do With Weight?

Kindness, compassion and peace are powerful tools for social awareness and for losing weight.

What does the Women’s March on Washington have to do with losing weight? Everything! With millions of people marching on Saturday, January 21st to bring attention to women’s rights and human rights, the outpouring of kindness, compassion, and peace was overwhelming and powerful to those who participated in person, as well as those who watched the pictures flowing in all day from various media outlets. Kindness, compassion and peace: valuable tenets to live by, but so often in very short supply when we are struggling with our weight or our feelings of self-worth around our body size.

How many times have we berated ourselves for eating foods we shouldn’t have, like sugary desserts or carb-rich caloric treats? How many times have we talked to ourselves with critical words after catching a glimpse of our naked body in a mirror? How many of us avoid the mirror completely? So many women are dissatisfied with their body, their shape, or their image; yet food, especially sugary food, is a salve that helps us feel better instantly. Many women boomerang between berating themselves with harsh criticism for their eating transgressions (or they way they look) and then soothing themselves with food.

One solution to this unhealthy vortex is to practice becoming the benevolent parent of ourselves. How do we do that? We do it with kindness, compassion, and peace! If we take a lesson from the Women’s March on Washington, we might see how powerful peace and compassion can be. We know this because as mothers and family members, we often reflect these emotions onto our children or our loved ones or our younger friends. For example, if your young daughter or a young friend began mindlessly wolfing down cookies in front of the TV at night, you wouldn’t yell at that child and call her fat and stupid. You wouldn’t berate her for her lack of will power. No, you would try your best to get your message across, to gently and kindly ease that child out of her mechanical eating pattern. You might distract her or offer to play a board game or engage her in conversation. You might suggest she take a break from eating for a few minutes. You would try your best to be kind; to be compassionate, and peacefully try to stop that child’s eating. If it didn’t work, you would probably change the message and change the tact, but I highly doubt many of us would scream and yell and be mean to that poor little girl furiously engaged with cookies.

At the Women’s March there were so many young daughters brought by their mothers to help expose them to the importance of everyone’s individual value and worthiness, yet so many mothers don’t fully accept their own eating behaviors or shape. We must learn to accept ourselves and our eating behaviors as we would our child’s. Only through acceptance can we understand and unwind the unwanted behavior.  

Only when we treat ourselves with kindness and compassion can we reach a place of peace with our body size or shape. We are not will power weaklings. We are not losers around foods and eating. We must change from being judgmental and punishing to being compassionate and curious. We must learn to welcome any unwanted behavior with food and eating as an indication that something else is going on. What is the message in our love affair with a brownie? We are not broken. We do not need fixing. With curiosity, compassion and care, we can discover what is motivating and driving the behaviors that don’t serve us. When we acknowledge what’s behind those behaviors, we can accept them and unwind them.

Part of the work is tuning into our hungers. What are we hungry for: food, water, space, sunlight, fresh air, a change of scenery, a hug, some love or maybe some sleep.  The only thing that disengages the autopilot of our behaviors is to do something radically different. Just like the Women’s March on Washington changed up the routine of everyone’s life and brought a spotlight onto the topic of equality, we can stop and tune into our hungers to bring a spotlight onto what is driving our habits.

Overeating and body shame is a collective issue with many suffering in silence. Countless highly successful, competent, and productive women, who have every part of their lives in order, struggle with this one area. Like the women marching in Washington, only through community, kindness, and compassion can we get off autopilot and make changes that result in healthier habits and the peaceful and easy release of unwanted weight.

Staley Sednaoui, MS is a health and wellness coach who combines nutritional counseling with eating psychology to help her clients achieve better health, while also creating a better relationship with food and eating.