In the midst this week long celebration of women, women’s health, feminism, etc., I want to pause for a moment, switch gears, and extend appreciation to the special men who inhabit our lives–especially the men who support us through ups and downs in health and wellness.
You see, I’m constantly surprised (in a very nice way) by the number of female clients who tell me about the supportive husbands, boyfriends, friends, brothers, and fathers in their lives. As much as we may identify misogyny as one of the many factors that enable a culture of disordered eating among women (and men, of course–one estimate states that 25% of eating disorder sufferers are man), it’s important to remember that we’re talking about a set of diffused cultural attitudes, and not the individual attitudes of all, or most, men we know. So many female clients, friends, and fellow bloggers have told me about the remarkable men who have stood by them through eating disorder recovery, or who have reassured them through weight gains and losses, or who have cheered them on as they take strides towards healthier lifestyle habits. Others have told me about the men who saw them through serious health crises: who stood by them as they waited for frightening test results, maintained a sense of calm when something was amiss, and participated in the path to healing or recovery.
These stories never cease to warm my heart. I am so, so glad that so many of you have healthy support systems, not only from female friends, but also from the men in your lives! Statistically, many women who are susceptible to disordered eating have estranged or tenuous relationships with father figures. Still more are victims of abuse, sexual or physical, or childhood trauma. Many women who have experienced body dysmorphia (either as a part of an eating disorder or just in general) report difficulty with sexual intimacy, or intimacy in general. To say that male support can “fix” these issues is ridiculously simplistic. But it does seem as though the presence of a supportive husband, lover, friend, or brother–along with an otherwise sturdy support system of friends and family, of course–can help a woman to re-think some of the insecurities that block self-love.
Today, let’s take a moment to consider whether any special men have helped us to move closer to a healthy relationship with our physical or emotional selves. And if they have, let’s give them a little thank you — private or in person. It might be a boyfriend, current or former, who helped you to connect with your body. It might be a husband who’s willing to trek out for an early morning run, just so that you’ll have some company, or who just agreed to try tempeh for the first time. Or it might be the amazing guy friend who will never fail to mention when you’re looking foxy in a new dress. Whatever the case, share your gratitude, now and always.