Body Talk: Danielle Duboise
Welcome to Body Talk, an S-Life series where we will be fearlessly opening this portal of communication about self-love, self-deprecation, and touching on anything and everything in between.
The aim here is not image-making, or perfection-seeking. Rather, it is to peel back the layers of the images we have each built of ourselves and who we are supposed to be, in faithful anticipation that we may unearth the absolute Love and Beauty that we have always been, and always will be. We each have unique bodies, and unique stories to tell about living in them. Here, we will be telling our stories, in the hopes that it will inspire you to reflect, and maybe start to re-write, yours.
Danielle Duboise, Co-Founder of Sakara Life
WHEN HAVE YOU FELT THE WORST IN YOUR BODY?
I think it was always after I would try some crazy diet, because that's when you feel like an alien in your body. Maybe you got some of the results you wanted, but there's always some side effect, like you feel guilt, or you feel deprived, or you feel hungry, or you feel sad. That's how food really started to feel like the enemy for me — because it was the tool I tried to use to give me the body I wanted, but in the opposite way. Instead of using it to work FOR me, I tried to deprive myself of it to have the body I wanted. After most diets, you just feel so not like yourself, you know? Food really creates you, so if you're depriving yourself of it, or you're eating crazy things like Paleo and meat all the time, for every meal, or all raw, you sort of lose yourself. I think those were the hardest times for me. It’s like, all you want is to sort of have this body that you've always thought you didn't have, or you’ve always wanted. And when you work towards it, and either fail, or get it, you still feel like shit, and that's the worst feeling. You're like, ‘Oh, turns out I'm not going about this the right way. I don't know how to have it. I don't know what my issues are…’ You just feel sort of at sea, and alone, and like you don't know how to exist in your own body, which is a really weird feeling. It's the worst.
WHEN HAVE YOU FELT THE BEST IN YOUR BODY?
I'd say it’s when I feel like I'm actually taking care of it. Even after all this travel I've had recently, it's been tough. Then, this week I got back on Sakara, and I haven't been drinking. It feels like I have my feet on the ground again. I would also say I feel best when I feel like I’ve eaten enough, because I know that feeling of emptiness, and you can get addicted to it. I think there's such a great balance in that. I think that definitely, for me, I really need to eat only when I'm actually hungry. If I just sort of snack along the day, or I mindlessly eat, it really affects my digestion. It’s not like I think that you have to feel full all the time to have the benefit of feeling like you're giving yourself enough nutrients. But, to really make sure that one, you only eat when you're really hungry, and two, that you're actually eating enough, that you're not just like a bird pecking at food. You create those habits when you don't feel good in your body. Then, also, when I first met my husband we used to go out dancing every single night, and we still do, but not as often. It was a really sensual experience, and I just remember feeling so free, because dancing is such a free way to express yourself. And I'd danced, at clubs or wherever, but this was a totally different experience. I think it's one of the reasons that we're still together — because we found that connection. Dance is creative expression. It’s your physical self, and sort of how you communicate yourself through physicality. That was a big lesson for me. I tend to be very heady, and in the clouds. I’m an air sign, so I tend to be thinking all the time, and daydreaming, and wishing, and hoping, and manifesting, and plotting. Which is all good, but I really have to force myself to come back down, and have physical, bodily experiences. That's also when I feel the best in my body — when I make sure I take the time to do that.
WHAT ARE SOME COMMON THINGS YOU THINK WHEN YOU LOOK IN THE MIRROR? HOW HAVE YOU OVERCOME THEM?
I think that especially when you're young and sort of coming into yourself, in your young 20s, you're constantly trying to fix, and the only way you can fix is if you figure out all the things that are wrong. I think those habits never necessarily totally go away. I think it's human nature. We're also constantly reminded of what we're supposed to look like. It's all around us, all the time. When I was young, I remember thinking that whatever the ideal body was, that I could get it. Now, as I’m getting older, I’ve started to realize that the ideal body, whatever I had in my head, is maybe not possible anymore. And that is so freeing, because in reality, it’s probably not possible. It’s only possible if I were a model, and that was my only job every single day — to make sure that I was working out four hours a day and only eating certain things. But that is not my life, and I don’t want it to be my life.
"I think we’re always searching for power, and not necessarily power over people, but power in our own body — feeling powerful. And that’s just a state of mind."
When I realized that, it really freed me from looking in the mirror and seeing what was wrong. I think I still do it, of course, but now, I've just really grown into myself. When I look in the mirror I think, ‘Do I feel like myself in this outfit?’ I also feel like, as I've gotten older, that I've been okay with having various different personalities. One day I can look one way, and one day I can look another. And that’s okay. I remember I used to look in the mirror when I would have an “off-day” and be really upset. Because when you wake up puffy, or have a bad hair day, or whatever it is, you can feel like your life is over. But now, it's just about letting those things go by. Life has a different heartbeat for me now. I think that this next age bump is really starting to hit me. There isn’t a lot of time on earth…there’s just not. So why would you waste your time trying to perfect something that is already so great? What a waste of time it is to try and always be better. Just trying be something that society tells us that we need to be. What I've come to realize, is that the only thing I think I'm going to get from that is the body I wanted. But, what’s going to change for me? Would I have a better husband? No, I don't think a better husband exists. Would I have better job? Nope, I don't think that exists either. So what am I searching for? I think we’re always searching for power, and not necessarily power over people, but power in our own body — feeling powerful. And that's just a state of mind. I think that realization really helps, where it's like, ‘I decide I'm powerful. Not my size, or my figure, or anything like that.’ I think that when I look in the mirror now, versus then, it's less judgmental, and more like, ‘Do I feel powerful, and do I feel like myself?’ We're all going to get older, and sometimes I think being a woman, you have a lot more to fight as you get older. You're so used to being seen in the world a certain way, and we all lose youth. But what else do you have? What else are you bringing to the world? Obviously, it's so much, but you really have to decide what that is for you, and then look in the mirror, and make sure you just feel like you're in that place with yourself. I think if you decide that you don't want to be captive anymore, and you sort of just tune in and think about the things that are holding you back, then you can find them, and you can let go a little more. For me, I don’t want my life to be different, so why am I trying to live in a different body? You have to choose the journey, it’s not like it just happens. Because you get older, and getting older helps in choosing the journey. For sure.
HOW DO YOU FEEL NOW WHEN YOU GAIN WEIGHT?
I think I have this really great sense of denial. I'm like, ‘No, that scale's totally wrong.’ I really, really have that. I also fluctuate so much. I can fluctuate almost ten pounds from day to day, just holding on to water, or whatever it is. I've never really looked at a scale. I don't use a scale to judge. I usually just use my clothes. If I feel if I've gained weight, I realize that I haven't been acting like myself. I have a certain way my body likes to live now. I think you can definitely change your set points throughout life, but you just have to make the choices, and figure out if you really want them. If I had stayed on the raw food life, I think that my body would look very different. But I’ve chosen this life, and so my body has found its balance point. I know that if clothes are fitting a little tighter, that I just haven't been acting like myself, for whatever reason. Hopefully it's because I've been out partying all night and having fun, but sometimes it's emotional. Then, you just tune in, and try and sway the other way.
IS THERE ANYTHING IN ANOTHER WOMAN’S BODY YOU’VE ALWAYS ENVIED, AND ADORED?
I feel like you can really recognize when a woman fully appreciates her body, and lives in it. I've always envied that, because I am so airy. Sometimes I think the battle for me wasn't actually changing my body, it was just getting to know my body, and being okay with however it was, and however it decided to be. I remember meeting women that just lived in their bodies — it totally wasn't about size. It wasn't about the figure. It's just really sexy when a woman loves her body, and you can tell when it's real, and when it's heartfelt, and true, and not just a show. I think that's really powerful.
IF YOU WERE MEETING YOUR BODY FOR THE FIRST TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY?
That’s hard. One thing I didn’t realize when I was younger, is that I was really good at coping. I would do crazy shit, and then I’d be a really good coper, so I could pretend like something really didn’t affect me. I’d pretend to be fine. But every choice you make always affects you. It might not affect you that weekend, or that year, or those five years, but you are compilation of your choices, and your thoughts and your feelings. When you make drastic, weird, strange choices — and I’m not judging them because they made me who I am — I think your body always shows it in various ways, if you know how to read it. There’s a sort of emotional healing that needs to be done. So I guess I would say, ‘I want to get to know you, and be able to read the things that you’ve been through.’ I look at my body now, and I can tell. I know why things are a certain way. I know the choices I’ve made. Now I'm at a time in my life where I can deal with things, and I don't need to just cope. When I was that age, I had to cope. I was a survivalist, you know? I had to survive a lot of things. Now, I'm in a place where work is steady, and home is steady, and maybe that's when I started to open up a little, and start to actually deal with things. That's the nice thing about youth. I'm talking like I'm like eighty… (laughs).