Did you know that October is National Bullying Prevention Month?
In honor of this important cause, PMM will be publishing a series of posts on the blog focusing on various issues surrounding bullying, including ways to combat the behavior as well as cope with its consequences.
While we can’t control the negativity we may face in the world, we can control the negativity we direct towards ourselves. Sometimes, we can be our own biggest bullies and overcoming this will bring us one step closer to living the great lives we are meant to live.
For this post, PMM’s Lifestyle Editor Natasha Nurse spoke with Golda Poretsky, HHC, a certified holistic health counselor who has helped countless women shift their mindsets from that of focusing on how to change their bodies through dieting to living joyful and fulfilling lives regardless of how much they weigh or what they eat.
Check out the full interview below!
Natasha: Were you bullied as a child? If so, what effect did that have on you?
Golda: Yes! I remember coming home crying a lot. I was always plus size and being called “fat” was not new to me. Most of the bullying occurred in elementary and middle school. There is a lot of cultural pressure on fat kids to change themselves but I am passionate about changing the culture!
Natasha: What do you recommend parents do to help their child develop a strong sense of self-love at an early age?
Golda: It is so hard for parents dealing with this issue. We all live in a world where there is a huge focus on “childhood obesity” and parents can only do so much. When my clients mention that their children call themselves fat in a negative way, I try to help them to lead by example. It is important to stop yourself when you notice that you’re being self-deprecating and using the word “fat” negatively. The more body positive you are about your own body, the more your children get to see a body positive example in their own lives.
Natasha: Tell me about your dieting experiences and what prompted you to seek them out? What were your expectations for the different diets and exercise regimens you tried out?
Golda: I started dieting at a very young age. When I was 11 or 12 years old, my pediatrician put me on a low-fat shake diet. In college, I was on a low-carb diet. I did Weight Watchers and lost 40 pounds. When the pounds started creeping back up while I was still adhering to the Weight Watchers model, I came to a point where I decided dieting was pointless and unhealthy for me. Between 2007 and 2008, I was following a few bloggers who helped me feel less alone. My first step away from dieting was practicing intuitive eating. Instead of focusing on wanting to lose weight, I started working on how to deal with the idea of being okay with my body at whatever weight it was. I then read Fat!So?, a book that completely changed my way of thinking.
A few years into my coaching practice, I wrote Stop Dieting NOW! as a workbook for my blog readers. I imagined them carrying the book in their pocketbooks and taking it out whenever they felt triggered by diet culture.
Natasha: What would you say is the top thing that has had the most impact on a woman’s attitude towards her body?
Golda: To me, all of it, at least initially, is external. I don’t think that people naturally dislike their bodies. Much of it is advertising culture, which taught us all to constantly worry about our bodies, how we look, how we smell, etc. Dieting and weight loss culture has influenced everything, and we’ve created a culture of shaming people “for their own good.” Consciously disconnecting from and devaluing this messaging is key for healing our relationships with our bodies.
Natasha: Do most of your clients have an “a-ha” moment or an epiphany that prompts them to change how they view their bodies or does the change occur more gradually?
Golda: I think it’s both. Sometimes the a-ha moments are really just new levels of awareness — becoming aware of a pattern of acting or thinking about your body. A-ha moments can be exciting, but often the really exciting part is seeing a change in thinking or acting that you barely notice. Like going to a pool party and not feeling self-conscious, whereas a year ago you might have made an excuse not to go. For some people, the changes are very gradual and for some, they’re very quick. Some have more a-ha moments and some experience more unconscious change. It’s all great!
Natasha: Is it typical for women to “relapse” and fall back into the pit of negativity even after they’ve made a breakthrough? If so, what must they do to stay on track?
Golda: 100% yes! I really encourage them to see it all as a process. This is really a journey. When you have moments where you don’t feel good about yourself, it is important to realize you are noticing those moments. Just having that level of awareness and feeling in that moment shows the progress of how far you have come. To me, the goal isn’t never having a negative thought or feeling, it’s being aware when those feelings come up and not going down the rabbit hole of encouraging them. Being able to recognize that negative voice and what has triggered it, allows you then to let it go. Of course, there’s more to it, and it’s a practice, but it’s a major part of what I work on with clients.
Natasha: What do you think of all the new advertising involving plus size models without photoshop?
Golda: It is a good thing! There are studies that show that even when someone consciously understands that the images he/she sees are photoshopped, those images can still affect that person’s sense of what is normal and desirable. Breaking away from photoshop is really important.
Natasha: Given the pervasiveness of social media in our everyday lives, do you think it’s having a more positive effect in helping women share their experiences and support each other or causing more harm given the fat-shaming that frequently makes its way into certain outlets?
Golda: It is both! There is so much good stuff on the Internet, including fat-positive communities where people can get together to find support. But there is also a lot of terrible stuff out there too. I remember with my TEDx Talk, the TEDx folks had to shut down the YouTube comment section due to an organized attack by trolls who posted thousands of hateful and negative comments about how I look. They weren’t even commenting on what I was saying.
I think fat visibility is important, so I really encourage fat-positive bloggers to keep pushing forward. My attitude is: you can troll me all you want, you’re just improving my google ranking! But seriously, I am always going to focus on connecting and reaching others. I am not going to focus on those interested in tearing down others! After dealing with anti-fat negativity for much of my life, I am that much more prepared to tackle the negativity, and I hope that others who have been through similar stuff can use it as a source of strength too.
Golda Poretsky, HHC is a pioneer in teaching women what body love really is! For those who are bullied, struggling with body image or self love, she is a great resource to help you realize that You Matter and Deserve to be Loved Each and Every Day!
Stay tuned for our upcoming posts dedicated to Women Empowerment! – Natasha
Have a topic idea or inspiring story you’d like for Natasha to cover for PMM? You can contact her via email here: [email protected]