Hello hello, my friends!
I am so thrilled to have you back again this week. Before we get too invested in this week’s episode summary, I want to let you know that in today’s episode I discuss eating disorders and body image, if these topics are triggering to you please take care and feel free to skip to the next episode.
That being said, this week, I will guide us through a conversation surrounding the Dominant Dogma that makes us feel like we must earn our belonging with our bodies. Woof. It’s a heavier one, that’s for sure! But I truly believe that the more we uncover these big feelings and explore these topics in a safe environment, the closer we get to living our freedom now.
So, what do you say?
In this episode, I’ll dive into:
- How humans (especially those socialized as girls) are made to believe that they must earn their belonging by fitting in with how their body looks and functions
- How this particular Dominant Dogma leans into supremacy, patriarchy, colonialism and ableism
- The nuance we miss out on and the beauty of other human beings we pass by because we are so attuned to this way of thinking
- Some examples of “Dominant Dogma in the wild” that shows up all around us every day
- My personal experiences with this internalized Dominant Dogma and how I combat that to feel at home in my body
Listen to the episode wherever you like to listen to your podcasts.
Hello hello, creative humans, this week I am once again writing to you from the library! Today is a bit different in that we finally have a sunny day and alongside watching the lake through the glass windows, there are folks walking their dogs, riding bikes, bird watching, and more. I have a cup of coffee sitting to my left alongside my notebook of today’s to-dos, my water bottle, and AirPods on my right, and my feet are planted firmly on the floor as I lean in towards my computer screen. I can hear a few kids chatting a few tables down, the sound of the phone at the front desk, and the muted tones of seagulls coming from outside by the beach.
Just as I take a moment to pause and notice my surroundings, I encourage you to do the same. Attuning to your space and your body as we enter into this conversation together. No matter what is going on around you, or within you, simply pause. Notice the environment you find yourself in. Notice what is around you that is stable and secure. Notice the chair or floor beneath you. The textures touching your skin. Where there is light. Where there are shadows. Not judging anything, just simply noticing. This is a practice of freedom that no one can take away from you, and that you can return to at any time.
Before we go further, in today’s episode I discuss eating disorders and body image, if these topics are triggering to you please take care and feel free to skip to the next episode.
Today, we are going to talk about the Dominant Dogma in Western culture that shares “You must earn your belonging with your body.” This is the narrative that asks humans, most prominently humans socialized as girls, to earn their belonging by fitting in with how their body looks and functions.
As a reminder: Dominant Dogma is a term I coined to encompass all the cultural narratives and beliefs which externally, and subsequently internally as adaptive strategies, tell you who you’re supposed to be, how to do it, and often, what you need to buy to live that out.
An article for The British Psychological Society summarizes this Dominant Dogma by saying, “Modern media and social media constantly bombard us with images of idealised bodies. For women, the emphasis is on slimness (veering on thinness), youthfulness (characterised by firm flesh) and flawlessness (albeit cosmetically and/or digitally enhanced). For men, the ideal is characterised by a muscular, v-shaped body, flat stomach, and narrow hips. And these idealised standards of beauty have become the norm to which many of us compare ourselves, yet remain unattainable for the vast majority.” – source
Deeply rooted in supremacy, colonialism, and patriarchy, this Dominant Dogma is also incredibly ableist requiring humans to fit the mold of thin, athletic, and high-functioning in order to belong. Due to this, many folks try to mask their nuanced humanity and health realities including athletic limitations, chronic illnesses, and disabilities, all in an effort to shape-shift their existence just to fit in with their families and communities. These maladaptive strategies can result in body image struggles, isolation, emotional distress, feeling unworthy, eating disorders, and the list goes on. – resource
While I live in a body that is largely accepted by the culture (relatively thin, white, and appears very able), I have a checkered past with this Dominant Dogma. My nervous system and health have been struggling over the past few years and I experience the strange sensation of having an “invisible illness” that when seeking answers I often had to “convince” health practitioners that something wasn’t right. Because of my appearance and my adherence to social norms where on I looked put together, physicians did not believe me when I shared my symptoms and difficulties. Additionally, throughout my life, I learned to mask the fact I struggled with migraines and varying levels of fatigue, especially when in the workplace and when applying for jobs, an adaptive strategy that I now know may have participated in keeping my body in fight-or-flight.
In my adolescent years, I had the experience of living with physical limitations prior to and amidst healing from major surgery to correct an intense form of being pigeontoed. This disability developed as I grew up and caused a great deal of pain following physical activity. From the ages of 14-15 I navigated the world largely on crutches and a wheelchair, having to rely on family and friends to support me to meet even the most basic of my needs. This surgery caused a prominent shift in the shape of my hips amidst formative years that are already thought of as difficult and when comparison and adherence to norms run especially rampant. The result was a mental battle where I often felt broken and like I would never fit in with the humans I saw fulfilling their dreams.
Many may think that amidst the body-positive movement these narratives are changing, and thankfully this is true to an extent, but we have a long way to go, both as a culture and as individuals, as we hand back the unconscious and internalized variations of this Dominant Dogma. As quoted previously, this Dominant Dogma still shows up every day in culture through media and social media. As part of my research for this episode, I pulled up magazine covers online. Here are a few of the titles I found, titles which I like to call, “Dominant Dogma in the wild.”
Dominant Dogma in the wild:
- The real tips and tricks to help you slim down fast at home without starving!
- Drop 39 LBS in 14 days
- Drop 20 lbs in 14 days
- Diets that work!
- Yes! Eat an extra 1,000 calories a day and still lose!
- Marie Osmond on looking and feeling younger every year!
- Glow! Get pretty sexy skin
- Look sexy now
- One and done abs
- Eat the tacos lose the pounds
This is just skimming magazine covers, and yes, these are titles from 2022 magazines.
The Dominant Dogma these titles uphold have been prevalent in society for over a hundred years inundating the lives of our ancestors, our media, our businesses, our parents, and our own minds. It is important to note, that often we find ourselves embracing these narratives in order to keep ourselves safe. For examp le, the unconscious adaptive strategy I mentioned where I masked my struggles with migraines and fatigue. Instead of addressing those issues, for a long time I ignored them, hiding them not only from the outside world, but also from myself, taking pain medication and drinking large amounts of caffeine so I could pay the bills and get my work done. However, this strategy only worked for so long, and over the past few years I have come face to face with the narratives which kept me living this way…and I’ve found the freedom on the other side: I am enough just as I am, and no matter how my body presents, they are worthy of being taken care if. They are worthy of belonging.
And that is the freedom on the other side of this Dominant Dogma: You can address the unconscious and internalized Dominant Dogma in your mind that shares you must earn your belonging through your body.
To combat the internalized Dominant Dogma, the magazine titles, and the many examples of Dominant Dogma in the wild, here are a few mantras I’m embracing around my body and their belonging:
I am enough as I am.
The truth about my body and my experience is valid.
I embrace my body, however they present today, and in so doing I choose my freedom, now.
I choose to live in freedom and wholeness now.
I have a nuanced body that is learning to embrace the genes I was born with, is healing from trauma, is navigating modern environmental stress…and I choose to live my freedom now.
I find the beauty in the present while honoring the reality of quirks and difficulty.
I belong. My body belongs. Right here and now.
And that is what I want to leave you with today. Additionally, I’m so excited to let you know I am now accepting Summer Coaching bookings!
Whether you are struggling with anxiety, navigating a life change, or expanding your leadership role, I’m here to facilitate breakthroughs and coach you step-by-step so you can shine doing the work you are meant to do.
Here’s a glimpse into how I can help:
👉 Reclaim balance after (or during!) a major transition
👉 Breakthrough the Dominant Dogma keeping you from thriving
👉 Find your footing after 2 long years of upheaval
👉 Strategize brand vision and essence
👉 Navigate climate anxiety and continue your regeneration work
👉 Bolster your leadership skills as you guide your team through testing times
👉 Take back personal power and live your freedom now
You can learn more about my 1:1 coaching and apply now at megscolleen.com!
All right, I’ll see you next week!
Freedom is yours,
“Deeply rooted in supremacy, colonialism, and patriarchy, this Dominant Dogma is also incredibly ableist requiring humans to fit the mold of thin, athletic, and high-functioning in order to belong.”
“Many may think that amidst the body-positivity movement these narratives are changing, and thankfully this is true to an extent, but we have a long way to go, both as a culture and as individuals, as we hand back the unconscious and internalized variations of this Dominant Dogma.”
“I embrace my body, however they present today, and in so doing I choose my freedom, now.”
Mentions & More:
- What is body image?
- How body image impacts our mental health
- More insights on the link between body image and mental health
- A look into the cultural systems that oppress our bodies (thanks, Jamie Lee Finch!)
- Learn more about my 1:1 coaching offerings!