Negative body image, which often drives us to diet, is a result of shame, which is a bad feeling about who we are or some of our characteristics. Such shame is fostered by our families; ever-present media images; ignorant cultural assumptions about women, beauty, and health; denial of the prevalence and role of sexual abuse in creating body shame; and a burgeoning $60 billion dieting industry ready to exploit all believers, banking on our failure.
The main conclusions I drew from working with twenty-two people, many over time, that inform my current view of dieting and body image are: 1) most people diet as a result of shame and self-hatred. 2) Shame and self-hatred rarely generate positive results. 3) People’s stories of pain and struggle regarding body image and eating patterns provide a window to understanding the meaning and motivation of their behavior. 4) Learning to respond to inner and outer criticism, and claiming the power and meaning in eating patterns, helps people love themselves and feel powerful and beautiful so they can live more in accordance with their true purpose.