CIRCLESOFCHANGE

Accepting My Body During Women's History Month

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Meaghan Allyn
Warrior for Change
Allyn Foundation


WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO CHANGE THE CONVERSATIONS OUR CULTURE HAS AROUND HEALTH/ BEAUTY/ BODIES?             

I didn’t appreciate the power of our health and wellness "belief" until I was pretty deep in my disorder.  

Part of my problem was that I refused to believe I was affected by our national conversations about beauty and image.

I liked to think of myself as a strong feminist, and as such, I was somehow "above" these fixed, media-driven ideals. The reality was that these conversations did affect me, and entered into my thoughts and behaviors in very subtle, almost subconscious ways. 

It wasn’t until I took a step back and sought treatment that I was able to come face-to-face with some of my more destructive beliefs about health and wellness, and how these beliefs were shaped by the people and city around me. 

You can identify as a feminist and still feel the pressure of external ideas about perfectionism and health. I’ve been inspired to call it out in myself, instead of denying the influence of these conversations.

I think it’s only through acknowledging these beliefs and how they effect your thinking that we’re able to change the way we view ourselves and our world.

It’s like crossing a river: you’ve got to appreciate the power of a raging river at your feet, and be willing to get a little uncomfortable, if you’re going to make it to the other side and move forward.                                         

HOW DOES THAT UNFOLD IN YOUR LIFE AND YOUR WORK?    

Like many other people, I’ve struggled a lot with rigidity and perfectionism.

I thought for a long time that there was a single "right" path to success, and that I’d be a lazy failure if I deviated off that path.

A big part of recovery for me has been embracing the grey, the messiness of life (much easier said than done!). I’ve also thought a lot about what actually works for me, instead of relying on external standards to judge myself. I’m very fortunate in that I was able to adopt a more flexible work schedule, and move away from the high stress of city living back to a quieter environment.

I really try to ask myself, regularly, what I actually WANT to do and compare it to what I feel like I should do. Some days are better than others! 

WHAT WAS ONE OF THE FIRST STEPS YOU TOOK TOWARD BODY ACCEPTANCE?

I was living from a place of denial and body disconnection for a while. Paradoxically, one of the things that helped me start to accept my body and my body’s unique needs was talking about my insecurities with other people!

I’ll always remember talking to my mom about what it was like for her when her body changed after having kids.

It was the first time I heard her talk about feeling uncomfortable and disappointed in her own body. This was a revelation to me: that a superwoman in my life could struggle with body acceptance just as much as the next person. 

One of the things I’m still working on is accepting my body’s needs for rest and moderation. I’ve thought a lot about an Audrey Lorde quote, which goes something along the lines of, “Caring for myself is not indulgence, it is self-preservation.”

IN THE SPIRIT OF WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH, WHO HAS INSPIRED YOU AND WHY?

I’m hugely inspired by my parents and my Nana.

On a more universal scale, I’m a huge Cheryl Strayed fan. She wrote the memoir "Wild" and is also the author behind the advice column "Dear Sugar." She’s so honest about herself that it makes you uncomfortable at times, yet she uses that honesty as a mechanism for self-forgiveness. And she’s an incredible writer! 

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MEAGHAN ALLYN

WARRIOR FOR CHANGE