The following post was written by Dr. Deah Schwartz
My Mother My Shelf
Mother’s Day: Although many folks consider Mother’s Day a contrived “Hallmark” Holiday, others take the day more seriously and sentimentally. For those who have experienced the death of a mother recently, this day can be more triggering than expected. For others who have adopted some of their body image issues from their mother’s own self-hate or overly judgmental opinions about their kids’ bodies, Mother’s Day can result in an increase in negative self-image or disordered eating. Some of you may remember the book, My Mother Myself: The Daughter’s Search for Identity written by Nancy Friday. In my family we coined the phrase, “My Mother My Shelf” referring not only to the inherited protruding behind that is a “hallmark” of the women in our family, but also the metaphorical shelf loaded with the collection of negative comments and unreasonable expectations about our bodies. One of which was that somehow we would miraculously be able to get rid of our shelves if we were just “good enough.” There was never ANY consideration given that perhaps we should learn to accept ourselves and our shelves as part of what made us unique and not feel that it diminished our value.
Art Therapy Exercise of the Month
Title: Peace TrEATy
Objective: To call a truce for just one day in your war with your body and food.
Materials: Drawing paper, markers, pencils, crayons, collage materials, calligraphy pens. (Please note materials can be as simple or as expansive as you would like).
- Read the pledge for International No Diet Day
- Choose at least one of the components that you feel you want to commit to for just one day. Or make up your own.
- Create a Treaty complete with seal and signature and witness signing. Heck use a feathered pen and calligraphy to make the treaty if you want to. Have fun with it! Make it official! Tie dye optional! 🙂
- At the end of the day either draw, write, or make a collage about how it felt throughout the day to be abiding with your INDD treaty. What were the high points? What were the low points? What was easy? What was difficult? Most importantly what were the reasons for the barriers that may have come up for you that made it difficult?
- Decide if there is a component about the INDD pledge that you would like to try the next day. The same one or a different one? If not why? If yes, leave your art and or writing materials available to make a new Treaty in the morning.
International No Diet Day Pledge:
- That I will attempt to not diet for one day, on May 6, International No Diet Day.
- Instead of trying to change my body to fit someone else’s standards, I will accept myself just as I am.
- I will feed myself if I’m hungry.
- I will feel no shame or guilt about my size or about eating.
- I will think about whether dieting has improved my health and well-being or not.
- I will try to do at least one thing I have been putting off “until I lose weight.
Special Note: There is no correct or wrong outcome to this Expressive Arts Therapy directive. This is about learning more about your personal barriers, speed bumps, and green lights that affect your personal peaceful relationship with your body and/or relationship with food.
This expressive arts idea is from contributing guest author Dr. Deah Schwartz. Once a month, Dr. Schwartz shares an art therapy activity or concept to facilitate exploration, increased awareness and healing in the areas of body image and eating disorders. Some of these activities may need to be facilitated over more than one session, or modified for different ability levels, size of group, budget and size of work space. These directives may be used in individual or group therapy sessions or as self-help activities. Sometimes the activity itself is nothing new or brilliant but the OBJECTIVE of the directive is unique and specifically tailored to exploring issues related to body image and disordered eating. ENJOY! Fun is the main ingredient! Learn more about eating disorder therapy.