I had the incredible opportunity recently to attend a workshop by Cynthia Whitehead-LaBoo, PhD, called, “Super Sized: Living large in a small minded culture”. Ms. Whitehead-LaBoo is the Associate Director for Clinical Services at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. She is a Licensed Psychologist, as well as an Adjunct Clinical Associate Professor of Psychology at Emory University.
In her amazing workshop, Ms. Whitehead-LaBoo, a beautiful African-American woman, spoke to us about how she, as a woman of size, works clinically with clients who have eating disorders. She is a role model to her clients (and to women everywhere) of someone who has effectively negotiated being large in our thin-obsessed culture. What I found so empowering was the way she held herself in such an accepting, self-loving way. She didn’t have to tell the audience that she owns her power and her gorgeousness because she is the physical embodiment of it.
Her words and stories were incredibly powerful, but what struck me most was her modeling to the rest of us how to take up space-with joy, self-love, and spirit. She reminded us that no matter what size we happen to be, we can and we must reclaim our beauty through loving ourselves totally and unconditionally, and truly accepting ourselves, our bodies, exactly as they are- short, tall, thin, fat, old, young, disabled…whatever that package may look like.
She also reminded us that bodies change dramatically throughout the course of our lives, and that we will surely find more peace if instead of fighting those changes (through dangerous diets, cosmetic surgery, or excessive exercise), we surrender into the new person we are becoming at each stage with grace and acceptance. I realise that this is a tall order in our thin-obsessed culture, but as Ms. Whitehead-LaBoo reminds us, it is entirely possible and so much more satisfying than fighting who we are and what we’ve been given…