Here is an email I received from Dorli DiGrigorio commenting on a June 6th post questioning if you should tell your friends that they are fat?

Ira,

I feel it is so important to keep our one given body that miraculously works most of the time in as good condition as possible. Your site gives people a chance to vent and share their successes and failures.

Your concern over the criticism you gave your friend eating multiple desserts (ed: see June 6 post) sparked my writing about what I learned at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation in relation to food. I don’t think you meant to put your friend down, but since he was trying to lose weight, you reminded him, and he didn’t seem to like that too much.

Food, I learned, like everything else, can be used to be wide and care for things more or to be narrow and give less meaning. We can, for instance, sit down at breakfast and think about where this food that is sustaining us comes from, and who were the people involved in growing, picking, delivering, selling it… and all the time having thoughts and feelings of their own. So, we are then using the food to be wide…to like the world more.

Then, there are instances when the world has given us a hard time. Perhaps there was traffic, an argument, or just plain everyday stress. We hit the refrigerator and look for a sweet treat or two and could unconsciously think, “now, the world is here to serve ME and assuage my hurt.” This is an example of food being narrow.

When one becomes too obsessive about one’s body, it is also narrow, and the wider world is not thought of enough. If one studies and appreciates the miraculous ways our bodies work and has gratitude for it as one keeps fit, that would be more sensible.

Everything can be used to be wider. I had a large anger against my mother who spoiled me terribly. She was MY mother and there was very little if any desire to know who she was. This was narrow and selfish. Much later, when I had consultations at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation, one consultant said to me, “A whole book could be written about your mother, and you would be only one character among many others.” This was so much kinder and wider. Here is a link to an article that appeared in the Kent Good Times Dispatch some years ago: A Mother Reconsidered, by Dorli DiGregorio.

One of the basic statements of the philosophy is: A PERSON’S DEEPEST DESIRE IS TO LIKE THE WORLD THROUGH KNOWING IT. That is so true of a breakfast, one’s body, a mother, a friend or anything one meets each day.

Another statement of Aesthetic Realism is: YOUR GREATEST DANGER IS TO BE FOR YOURSELF BY MAKING LESS OF THE OUTSIDE WORLD, THAT LESSENING IS CONTEMPT.

Ira, Aesthetic Realism is a long and deep study. It is based on Art and explains what beauty is. It has certainly changed my outlook on life and made it richer. I respect myself more for how I see people and for listening to criticism. I still make lots of mistakes, but catch them sooner and show regret. I have to say that people are not always anxious to change or hear criticism. I do respect anyone that does.

Dorli DiGregorio