Ruth Bader Ginsberg died on Friday, September 18, 2020. She was one of my heroes. Since her death, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a woman.
But before I go on, let me introduce myself. My name is Ilene Leshinsky and I am the founder of Find Body Freedom, the program I created for women who want to change their relationship with their bodies. As a woman, you can probably relate to the insecurity we feel about body image, our weight, and our relationship with food.
I created Find Body Freedom because I struggled for the first half of my life, feeling bad about my body. Looking back I recognize how I limited my participation in my own life because of how I felt about my body. For decades, even when I was “thin” I carried the shame of being “fat”. So I made it my mission to help other women, their daughters, granddaughters and the little girls who live next door, to find the way to love the bodies they’re in and to eat with joy. As a woman, imagine eating with joy – instead of guilt!
So back to my musings… “The Notorious RBG spent much of her career advancing the legal principle that men and women should be equal – and that the law should treat them as such.” (NY Times, 9/20/2020).
In 1969, at 21 years old, right after graduating from Boston University, I applied for a teaching job in a town about thirty minutes outside of Boston. I was told that my salary was less than that of my male counterparts because they were the breadwinners of the family. My argument that I was putting husband #1 through college didn’t fly. I was asked questions about my personal life that are no longer allowed by law – because of RBG!
But back in those days, during the Women’s Movement and when Helen Reddy’s feminist anthem, “I Am Woman” hit the airwaves in 1971 (I was 23), I felt that I had one foot in my mother’s world of the 1950’s (Father Knows Best, Leave It to Beaver) and the other foot in the culture shift of the 1960’s/ 1970’s. The first foot felt comfortable and “safe”. The other one felt dangerous and yet “liberating”.
We have so many more freedoms now, thanks to women such as RBG, Gloria Steinem, Betty Freidan, and yes, Helen Reddy who sang “I am woman, hear me roar, in numbers too big to ignore…”
So what does all of this have to do with Find Body Freedom?
It seems to me that we’re still caught in between two worlds – the one where we have unlimited potential and as Helen sings – we can do anything – and the one where we’re still trying to change who we are, our bodies, our personalities, our values and beliefs, in order to please others – and to be desirable and loved.
I’ve been working with women of all ages for the past 25 years, many who believed that if they could change their bodies, they could change their lives. It goes something like this: If I had the perfect (or almost perfect) body, I’d be happy, have a better job, a loving partner, or buy a new bathing suit. Of course we feel this way! How could we not when daily we are bombarded with marketing messages that promise weight loss, body reshaping, or the skin of a 12 year old! So much time, so much energy, so much money spent in the pursuit of changing our bodies.
And if you don’t believe me, just check the current statistics that address the number of children and adolescents who are involved in unhealthy behaviors!
Did you know that: 89% of girls have dieted by age 17? 42% of girls in grades 1-3 want to lose weight? (They’re just babies!) And 70% of 18-30 year old women don’t like their bodies? How can we achieve our dreams if we’re starving ourselves or beating ourselves up verbally and emotionally?
So it seems to me that we need another culture shift. And Women – we are the only ones who can do that – just as we’ve always done!
Let’s take that foot – the one that’s still planted in the belief that we need “Body Beautiful” in order to achieve our desires, goals, happiness, etcetera and place it firmly in the culture of “Body Healthy”.
In the Land of Body Healthy, we listen to our bodies, that will tell us when to eat, how much to eat, and what to eat. In this new land, we move our bodies for health and well-being (not to reshape them). In this land, we get enough rest so that we have the energy, vitality, and brain optimization to achieve our goals, whatever they may be.
And thanks to RBG and others, we can dream bigger dreams. We can become business owners, CEO’s, doctors and lawyers, or stay-at-home moms.
So let’s make RBG proud – ROAR! We are her legacy.
Three Tips for Keeping Us Body-Centered in these Challenging Times:
1. Your body is your home for this lifetime.
- love it
- take care of it
- feed it when it’s hungry
- thank it for all of the miraculous things it does for you
2. Your body is your master teacher.
- everything you need to know your body will tell you
- your mind may trick you but your body can’t
- learn your body’s language about eating, moving it, and resting it
- and then follow the directions
3. Just like with your best friend…
- if you say something mean to your body, APOLOGIZE
- say: I’m sorry Body, that was mean
- and then change that thought to something positive or neutral
Creator and Founder of Find Body Freedom (formerly BodySense), Ilene Leshinsky, began her company in 1992, after decades of my own personal struggles with weight, eating, and body image – and after trying every diet known to womankind. With over 25 years of experience as a clinical social worker in both New York and Massachusetts, she helps women discover innate body wisdom and Find Body Freedom through practical, simple techniques and proven strategies through various programs and direct coaching. To learn more about Ilene and Find Body Freedom, go to www.findbodyfreedom.com.