Do you have butt mind?

I just finished reading Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott. I love authors who help me articulate my feelings or experiences, which is just what this book did on a number of topics, including faith maturation and motherhood.

Lamott struggled with bulimia and in the book shared her experience with what she referred to as “butt mind”, which is when her mind becomes preoccupied with comparing her butt to other people’s butts. Perhaps your thoughts tend to gravitate towards upper arm mind, belly mind or cellulite mind. 

Simply saying, “today I have ____ mind,” can serve as good awareness of what is happening in your head so you can alter it.

For years the first thing that I would notice about others was their body size because it’s the main place I found value in myself. The eating disorder turns you into a person who values things you weren’t created to value. One thing that helped with this was forcing my mind to think something else about the person, which doesn’t come naturally and takes practice. I talked about this in my you don’t have to believe what you think post. It’s helpful for me to see how my brains likes thinking in patterns and routines when I say a nursery rhyme. For instance, if I say “twinkle, twinkle little ____”, I imagine your brain would say, “STAR!” And that’s the best way I’ve come to think about how my thoughts work, that sometimes they’re just engrained pattens that I have to put effort into changing. For instance, asking myself, “but what else could twinkle?” Diamonds, the sun, a person’s eye, etc. 

When my mind was stuck in a place of noticing a person’s body, I would force my brain to work harder and think up something else to notice (you can also do this when you notice you are focusing on a certain body part on yourself). Be it–> hair color, initial personality thoughts, the color of their top, actually trying to remember their name. Over time (years), this idea of putting forth the effort to make room for new thoughts in my head, was one thing that helped me get out of butt mind. And for that, I am grateful. 

NOTE: While I really enjoyed the book mentioned above, it’s not written by an eating disorder professional and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it as part of initial treatment for an eating disorder, since some of the language is fatphobic and a bit too self-deprecating IMO. It is probably my current favorite book, but not for ED recovery. If you’re in need of a good book that focuses on treatment of your disordered eating, I’d recommend purchasing 8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder by Carolyn Costin.


  1. I love your suggestion of forcing yourself to notice something else about a person. I tend to notice body size when looking at people and even though I don’t judge their body size, I’d rather not even think about it. Body comparison has been a huge thing for me to overcome even though I’ve been recovered for years!

  2. I struggle with this so much, and even though I know it has everything to do with my brain and not them, it makes me feel like an absolutely horrible person. Shallow, vain, petty, horrible, etc. Even though I know deep down I am none of those things.

    Its very reassuring that I am not the only one who has struggled with this.

    • As you begin to value yourself for things not related to body size…you’ll naturally begin to value others for other things as well. It’s a process, but you can get there<3

  3. This is so good! I love Anne Lamott and currently have some of her books on hold at the library. I feel like this concept could be applied to so many things, not just ED-related thoughts. Thank you for sharing!!

  4. I totally have a butt mind…to work on 

  5. I was just about to go and buy this book and then I read your disclaimer – THANK YOU!! I’m currently pregnant with my first babe and although I’m loving every minute of it, it’s definitely been a challenge trying to stay “recovered”. Love your perspective xo

    • I heard about a book recently that may be a good fit for you! It’s called “The Recovery Mama Guide to Your Eating Disorder Recovery in Pregnancy and Postpartum” (<--quite the lengthy title lol) by Dr. Linda Shanti McCabe. I haven't read it yet but could be helpful for you!

  6. Love this! I’m currently on holidays at the beach and have ‘belly mind’. It’s so frustrating to be stuck in this thought process, but I love your approach of acknowledging the thought instead of beating yourself up about it (I tend to feel terrible about myself for having these thoughts, which is not productive at all). Thanks so much for sharing! X

  7. I really love how you change it from focusing on a certain body shape to appreciating something else that doesn’t promote comparison.   <3   

  8. Ugh, yeah, I know that feel. I like trying to base my compliments on non-appearance things of other people though – the way you look is the LEAST important part of you!

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