Friday, January 27, 2012

Self-Image

I recently found out about a trip my hubby and I get to take in a couple months to a beautiful, sunny, beachy place.  I am super excited!  However, my excitement is marred just a bit by the thought that I will have to don a bathing suit in front of unfamiliar people.  I am extremely annoyed with myself for letting this thought put even the slightest damper on what is sure to be a great experience.  So, why am I doing this to myself??  Well, here's a thought a few thoughts on the matter.


Several days ago I was thumbing through a stack of women's magazines my mom had passed along to me. I was overwhelmed by the number of articles and advertisements promoting weight loss.  "Drop pounds without dieting."  "Don't sabotage your weight loss!"  "Lose the weight and keep it off!"  There were countless ads for Slim Fast, Weight Watchers, and Jenny Craig.  These were, of course, followed by pictures of stylish clothes fitting perfectly on beautiful models.  (Ironically, there were then pages of recipes for us to try.)  Why is this??  Well, because it makes money.  An article on Webmd says that 63% of Americans are overweight or obese and an article on the CDC website says that 33.8% are obese.  Also, according to BusinessWeek Magazine, Americans spend about $40 billion per year on weight loss programs and products.  That's $40 Billion - with a "B."


I suppose we all have our crosses to bear.  Personally, I had psoriasis for many years, including those formative adolescent years.  It seems to have been "in remission" for several years now, but I believe it permanently scarred my self image (that sounds very psychological doesn't it?).  Basically, I spent years looking in the mirror and seeing something negative - psoriasis.  Now that it is gone I still see the negatives.  There is too much here, not enough there.  This sags, that flabs.  The facts, however, contradict my lack of self-image self-esteem.  The average American woman is a size 14, which is larger than the size I wear.  In November/December, I had two separate doctor appointments and was told at both of them by medical professionals that I have a very good BMI.  When I posted on my personal Facebook page about my bathing suit angst, I got many comments from friends assuring me that I have nothing to worry about.  But still, I don't see it.  Being constantly bombarded by images of way-skinnier-than-average models and suggestions of losing weight, does not help the situation.  Even without a history of psoriasis or some other image damaging condition, the not so subliminal messages come across very loudly and very clearly.  They say we all need to be skinnier.


Then, I look at my three beautiful daughters and want so badly for them to have a positive self-image when they look in the mirror.  They should.  They are beautiful.  I even "preached" to them about it in my Lessons I Want to Teach my Daughters post.  I said "everything about you is wonderful and perfect."  I wholeheartedly believe that, however I can't help but worry that eventually these media images and suggestions will affect them, too.  (Especially, my Megan who is so tender-hearted and appears to be developing my blasted psoriasis.)  My two oldest have both actually made comments already about "being skinny" or "not wanting to get fat."  They are 9 and 7.   And what about me - their primary female role model??  I try very hard not to talk about losing weight or disliking my body in front of them, but kids are intuitive and I'm sure, on some level, they sense it.


So how do we get past this??  How do we overcome the self-doubt that is preyed upon and perpetuated by the media?? How do we become better role models for our daughters?  Well, obviously, I don't know the answers and I am not going to sit here and write that I vow to never succumb to the hype ever again - that's not realistic for me.  What I can vow, though, is to try and take some small steps that will, hopefully, lead me to a better self image.  I suppose I can start by trying to find something positive in the mirror instead of just focusing on what is, in my opinion, negative.  I can absorb compliments rather than deflecting them and assuming they are just "niceties." I can make a point of affirming, out loud, the beauty I see in my girls each and every day in hopes that it will "sink in" and speak louder than the media suggestions.  I think we all need to focus on being healthy - not just being skinny.


Do other women struggle with this as well??  Is it just me and my "damaged" vision of self??  If you are a woman who is more confident than I am, where do you find that confidence and security??  And the million dollar question . . . .

"Borrowed" this from a blog I follow called A Beautiful Mess ~

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3 comments:

Jennifer Heptinstall said...

Most men I know say that the second...more voluptuous... group of ladies have a much better body than the first.

I think we women do it to ourselves and to each other. I would LOVE to lose the wiggle in my backside and the jiggle in my thighs!

Bathing suit season makes me hyperventilate.

Kristine (the words i breathe) said...

i wrote a really thoughtful and pretty long response but then my computer froze! ahhh!! but essentially, what i wrote is that all men and women struggle with this too. i've even seen my husband upset at himself for not having a six-pack. it's unfortunate but who in real-life has these "perfect" bodies?? but since we're inundated by all these “perfect” images in our highly technological and social media-filled world we start believing that "that" is the norm and there's something wrong with us :( personally, i think self-image is going to always be a struggle for all of us, even celebrities fall victim to it (like when they say they're "not fat and they love their body just the way it is" and then go and lose 20 pounds. hmm.) but i think the important part is just be a leading example of someone who STRIVES to love themselves for who they are and not what they look like. i think our daughters will learn more from that than anything we may have to say. really liked your post! :)

Chris Burton said...

No one is hotter than Bettie Page except possibly Christina Hendricks

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