I first took notice of Isabel Foxen Duke when I read a blogpost of hers about body image. Her argument centered around her relationship with Ugg boots. I liked her already.
Initially she was convinced Uggs were the ugliest shoes on the planet, but then over time, as more friends wore them, the more she warmed to them. Her point? What’s deemed attractive or unattractive is learned or conditioned. And because it is learned, it can also be unlearned or tweaked.
We each have our own Ugg boot story. Skinny jeans would probably be mine. I never thought I’d wear them and now I do. Or perhaps it’s the Porsche Panamera which, whilst I don’t own one, is slowly growing on me.
Why all this chat about Ugg boots, skinny jeans and the Porsche Panamera? Because it’s part and parcel of the discussion around poor body image and how to change it. I spend a fair amount of time listening to women (and men) feeling desperate and HATING the body they’re in. And typically the more they hate it, the more the diet/binge cycle or the staying-in-and-not-living-life-because-I’m-fat-and-ugly-and-depressed-and-have-nothing-to-wear takes hold. Which usually means eating more, not less.
How to break that cycle? How to befriend our bodies, as they are right now? A lot of us don’t want to put in the work to address our poor body image. We’re not really interested in making friends with our thighs, bellies, breasts, arms etc. We just want to get the weight off. Now. And so begins the cycle of restriction, obsession, bingeing and self hate that often overshadows a good decade or two of our lives.
Body image work goes deep. It’s a decision that your life needs to stand for something more than being thin and beautiful. It’s about accessing what you have of value that isn’t based on your looks. It’s about realizing you can’t afford to spend your days doing work you hate. It’s about deciding what kind of women and men you want to hang around with and understanding that their values will impact you. It’s about deciding who you want to see, and who you want to listen to, in your social media feed.
Isabel Foxen Duke is one one of the few refreshing voices out there who actually represents “normal” or “sane” eating. We live in a world where, bizarrely, it’s far easier to find size 2 yogis advocating a raw vegan diet in cute lycra than it is to find women daring to advocate a “normal” female body and “normal” eating.
Isabel is a coach, not a psychotherapist, so she doesn’t work with eating disorders, but she’s real and says it how it is. You can sign up to get her FREE body-positive video training series on what to do if you’re feeling crazy around food here: FREE VIDEO TRAINING SERIES