Practicing Awareness: I don’t want to be that unaware white girl on a diet
Here is what practicing awareness on a regular basis looks like in my world:
Movies. I watched Boyhood with my husband recently and we didn’t notice how white it was. We were pretty focused and hopeful that we’d get some kind of magic insight on how to raise teenage boys as we struggle through it now. That is what I was looking for. I didn’t find it. I also didn’t find myself saying to Carlos, “Wow, super white movie.”
There are times we are at an event or a restaurant and I will notice and comment on the whiteness. But I missed it while watching Boyhood.
Last week on an airplane I watched the movie, If I Stay. I have to add that I was on the airplane so you don’t think I rented it or went to it on my own. (Yes I guess I do care what you think of me.) It was a horrible movie. I cried throughout the whole movie and it really pissed me off. Anyway, that is also a super white movie and I didn’t notice or discuss it with Carlos later. We did enter into an interesting and enlightening conversation on the culture of teenage relationships though. I experienced the same kind of lovely yet raw and real teenage love when I was 17 years old just like Mia did. It was a mature, respectful and romantic relationship. My parents became friends with his parents. I spent a lot of time with his family and he spent a lot of time with my family. It was normal and accepted. My husband on the other hand couldn’t relate to the movie at all in relation to his experience growing up in Mexico. It was an important opportunity for me to understand more of his experiences and perspectives and for us to discuss how we will raise our children.
These are the moments I love being married to someone that comes from a completely different world than mine. And these are also the moments I realize how much practice it consistently takes to recognize the whiteness of my world. It is in my best interest to be aware and practice wearing different lens. I am learning to look through the racial lens. I have noticed heterosexual assumptions in many instances and still miss it more than I notice it. I hear language differently knowing that someone may not understand a word if English is not their native language. I have begun to see with a privileged lens. I wear rose colored glasses a lot – my love lens. That one is my favorite, the opportunity to interact with a stranger and choose to see them as pure love. My husband recently heard someone make a comment about ‘those poor people’ and it struck him. He was alert and listening with a perspective of class.
Am I alert today? Am I noticing? Or am I walking around preoccupied? Being aware is a practice that I consider spiritual. I believe God is in everyone. Beautiful energy and goodness is in everyone and when I’m aware I see it. I also believe that my greatest lessons are those I learn in unplanned moments. If I allow awareness to be a daily practice I learn so much.
This morning I had another moment of awareness (yes it can get exhausting at times).
This sugar thing. I keep hearing about it, I already know it’s bad but it seems like a lot of work to be sugar free. Plus I love sugar in my coffee. And god forbid I should deprive myself.
This thought triggered something for me. What am I afraid of? I dug a little deeper and you know what? I am afraid of being that girl on a diet. You know those girls that are always worrying about their weight (like there is nothing else important in the world happening???) and reading Glamour magazines and needing to be skinny for all the wrong reasons? Yes I hear all that judgment burning in me too. I hear the skinny girl biases loud and clear. I know what I don’t want that is for sure. I don’t want to be ‘that’ hurting girl. Which I am on some level. So that begs the question…do I know what I want?
I want to be healthy for me. I want to be healthy so I can run around on the playground with my grandchildren. Yes, my GRANDchildren. I want to be THAT Grandma. I want to feel good in my body and yes, in my clothes too. I am pretty clear about what I want and I’ve created a healthy lifestyle to support that dream. So why do I keep dumping white, refined sugar into my coffee every morning? Maybe it’s because if I’m too healthy then I’ll be accused of being that diet girl. I like to work out but you can’t label me a diet girl if I put sugar in my coffee, with cream too. Or maybe it is because I am hurting and the sugar makes me feel better.
Perhaps I’m getting too analytical about this one little habit. That is what awareness is for me though. And I’m pretty grateful for it. I appreciate the awareness because this morning I threw away the sugar jar. First I dumped the sugar out of it and placed the jar in the back of a cupboard and then a couple of hours later I decided to just toss the jar too.
I am not depriving myself by saying no to sugar. In my youth I loved getting ridiculously drunk and I enjoyed drugs. Then I quit. I’m not depriving myself by saying no to excessive drinking and drugs. I’m saying yes to being alive. I’m saying yes to my soul and my heart. It was fun and I enjoyed it but it was a dangerous and unhealthy way to live. Sugar in my coffee tastes better but it is an unhealthy way to live.
I’m not saying no to me, I’m saying yes to me. Huge difference.
There are certain things that are okay in moderation (chocolate is on that list for now!). Let’s be honest though, there are some things that are simply not healthy even in moderation.
Seeing the world through many different lenses opens me and my heart up. I don’t want that in moderation. I want that all the time. I’ll keep practicing.
Sugar in my coffee. I’m done with that. I don’t need it in moderation at all.
This is how I create my life – through awareness.
When I decided that I had to lose weight (I was 190 pounds at the time), I re-evaluated my relationship with food through the lens of privilege, too. Growing up on food stamps, I was hungry a lot. I became overweight when I had money as an adult. I never, ever let myself feel hunger. Hunger was a thing poor people or anorexic people did. But in reality, the cycle of letting yourself become a little bit hungry and then feeding yourself is how we’re supposed to live. Hunger isn’t a class issue, it’s just a message from you body that you need to feed yourself. Not being able to answer that message by feeding yourself with good food is a class issue. Having a choice about what I put into my body and when is part of my privilege, and I carelessly waste that privilege when I feed myself too much, or feed myself crap. And this sounds really maladaptive to some people, but the fact is, being a little hungry every day reminds me of when I was hungry all the time, and reminds me to see good food for what it really is – a valuable gift to be grateful for. Should it be a privilege to eat healthy food? I don’t think so, but it is, and I think we should be aware of that.
You are so right…in fact there is a lot I could go back to and make more connections to now that you bring this up. It shouldn’t be a privilege to eat healthy food when we can grow a lot of it. I’ve learned that from some pretty amazing urban farmers! Thank you for sharing!
Finally took a moment to read this. I love your rawness, Sara… And I want you to choose healthy Sara too, because I want you in my life for a long, long time. <3