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THE HOUSTON CENTER REPORT
The Houston Center celebrated our one year anniversary in March this year. For our special anniversary meeting, we had guest speaker and diversity consultant Linda Bedre, founder of A NEW WAY, present on the topic of aging. Linda helped each of us explore the ways in which fear of fat and difficulty with bad body thoughts are often intertwined with a fear of aging. Women often say they want to be "thinner like they were before…" but part of the desire to be thinner is often really a longing to be younger like we were before. Linda reminded us that both men and women are treated disrespectfully and become invisible to the culture as we age, but as with fatness, men are allowed more latitude than women. As men grow older and gray, they are often seen as debonair, accomplished and more powerful. Aging women, however, are generally seen as "has beens" who can no longer compete with younger women for sexual power and influence over men.
Some ideas for embracing aging in a way that helps with healing compulsive eating include:
- Remember that illness and disease are processes that are not the same as the aging process. It is possible to be old without being sick.
- Remember that old people and fat people are both stereotyped. In both instances we have the opportunity to reject the prejudices of society and choose to live fully, outside the expectations of the culture.
- Remember that with a few exceptions, most things can be done in some measure at any age we choose to do them. THERE IS NO RIGHT AGE!
- Remember that the beauty myth pressures us to spend time and money covering up our signs of aging in the same way that we are constantly told to pursue thinness. It is very important to appreciate and see the meaning in graying hair, aging skin and other age related changes in our bodies. Just as the acceptance of weight and body size is critical to the process of curing compulsive eating, so is the celebration of the aging process central to successful aging.