Geneen Roth’s timely new book, This Messy Magnificent Life: A Field Guide, inspires women to see beyond the weight scale to reclaim their worth.
1. In your book, you confess, “I was kinder to my jade plant than my body.” Why are women so hard on themselves?
Most of us treat our children, our jade plants, and our phones better than we treat our bodies—and we assume that harshness leads to change. Being hard on ourselves often functions as protection, albeit unconsciously: If we get there first, it’s less likely that someone else will. What I now know is that kindness toward ourselves must—and can—be learned.
2. What effect do you think the #MeToo movement will have on women’s self-worth?
Anytime anyone speaks up, it’s a victory for everyone. It’s a light-bringer, a relief to that part of us that already knows the truth. Inspired by the #MeToo movement, I recently started the Red String Project (#redstringproject), encouraging women to use a red string—a physical representation of a boundary—to reclaim their space and to remember that “No” and “I don’t want to” are complete sentences.
3. How would you describe the connection between spirituality, self-worth, and food?
The link between body size and self-worth is pervasive, insidious, and an indication of cultural madness. As if we are only allowed to have big lives if we have small bodies! Once you ask yourself if your right to exist depends on a number on a scale, the whole pattern is revealed as a sham whose function is to keep you distracted and disempowered.
4. What’s the first step to trusting yourself?
Begin with something concrete and simple: Eat the next time you are hungry, or take five minutes alone when you need quiet. Notice that you already have that internal guidance and that it wants what’s best for you.
5. Do you have a daily practice that helps you tune into your body?
The practice I use (and teach) is to arrive where I already am: in this body. Orient myself to the environment, feel the ground beneath my feet, the breath moving through my legs, belly, chest. Then take in what’s good. Notice something I might have seen a thousand times before and see it as if for the first time—astonished like a child at the life-force and the goodness that abounds.