Chin-up excercises to make the world a better place

Live in eating disorder world, even as a loving bystander, and the world changes.

Years of thinking about eating disorders and body image and weight have left me staring at bodies. I now have a highly disordered tenderness toward everyone. I see an exposed clavicle and I worry. I see a bulge and I worry. "Is it a symptom?" "Is it natural or is it illness?" "Is she comparing herself to others?" "Is he self-conscious?"

I never used to do this. I hate it. It's exhausting.

So I've developed a new exercise: "Chin-ups." I consciously look at everyone from the chin, up. I treat the area below the chin as private and none of my business. I started doing this in airports. I'm working on magazine covers, T.V., and one-on-one situations.

And wow, the benefits:
  • I notice people's expressions, their emotions, their eyes.
  • I make eye contact more often, and since I was trained to smile and nod slightly when you make eye-contact with strangers I now find myself smiling more and feeling friendlier.
  • Hair: fascinating! And so expressive!
  • I hold MY head up, and I feel better.
  • I'm not worrying about people all the time, semi-consciously comparing them, measuring. I'm just enjoying my fellow humans.
  • The number of times I think about my own body image has decreased.
  • People-watching is fun again.

Do me a favor and try it, and let me know how it goes?


  1. Laura,

    Not that I ever doubted your brilliance or anything but...

    ...this has to be the best idea I've heard in a long time. I firmly believe that looking into someone's eyes tells you much more about who they are and how they're feeling than looking over their entire body.

    This should win a Nobel Prize. Seriously. I'll try it when I go out later. I tried it with my cat but she wasn't exactly cooperative.

  2. Love this idea. Reminds me of an article I read today about a journalist who didn't look in the mirror and learned a few things about herself and society along the way, some interesting things about e.d. in it.
    - Ardy

  3. I WILL keep trying, although my first experiment wasn't that successful as I realised too late that the little girl I looked straight in the face had Downs Syndrome and I ended up fixated on her tongue.
    First setbacks not withstanding, Carrie's right, it is a brilliant idea and I will keep trying.

  4. dear laura,

    this was so wonderful to read and i do love the concept! thanks for sharing.

    with care,
    ms. em


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