I recently attended a seminar on body image with the youth (12-18) in our neighborhood. I was shocked at some of the stats. 80% of 10-year-old girls have dieted, and I believe it was 18-20% for five-year olds! What?! Why do we as women fall for all the tricks the media uses to tell us what we should look like? Why do we sometimes have a love/hate relationship with ourselves according to what our body is currently looking like, or not looking like? What message are our children learning and how do we stop it? Let’s make a change so that our little girls end up like this:
And our boys can end up like this:
I once worked at a treatment center for teen girls and witnessed girls starve themselves, throw up, and try to commit suicide because they had convinced themselves they were ugly and didn’t have value. No dieting was ever enough. Sadly, 2 of those girls ended up in a mental hospital because there was nothing else that could be done for them at that point. That’s correct: Insanity. Obsession over body image drove them to insanity. I’ve noticed a trend on Pinterest lately of all my friends pinning all sorts of unreal images of super skinny, flawlessly beautiful, super tan, and abnormally muscular girls with an attached description that says something like, “How to get a body like this in 2 weeks”, “exercises to tone your butt”, or “10 workouts to help you feel beautiful”. What about feeling beautiful NOW and for the rest of your life? Why do we believe all the lies that are fed to us that beauty looks a certain way? I must admit, I am guilty pinner of the fitness pins. Post-pregnancy belly is a new way of life for me and has been a bit hard to handle at times. But I try not to re-pin the pictures of practically naked girls with bulging muscles because the message that is being portrayed really bugs me.
I have a sister that gets super emotional about her weight. If she gets on the scale and sees she’s a pound heavier than the day before she will cry and most likely have a bad day. After giving birth to my daughter, we had a contest to motivate each other to see who could lose the most weight. I had never tried to lose weight before and I started to get caught up in the whole “weighing in” thing and I noticed as my mood started getting connected to the numbers I started to feel “fat” all of the time. After a couple of weeks of this I decided to give it up because I wasn’t happy. I kept training for my half marathon and I tried focusing on eating more healthy foods, but I stopped looking at the numbers. I started filling my time with crafty projects and things that I am passionate about and without knowing it I lost an extra 10 pounds in a short time. I truly believe that happiness and love of self can be one of the best ways to gain a healthy body. A size 0 body that is bulging with nice toned muscles? No, probably not. But a healthy body and a beautiful body. Our bodies are meant to go through different phases, sometimes we will weigh more than at other times….it’s time we as women accept that and find other things to focus on. Someone once told me, “I’ve never seen an ugly person that was confidant and wore a smile”. That’s a true statement for me. The most attractive people in life are those who are beaming with self-love and confidence. Out of curiosity I went to various websites researching ways to overcome a negative self-image. Some very good articles are here and here. One article specifically mentioned 25 ways (I recommend going there and reading more in-depth as they are awesome ideas).
Some of my favorites were:
“Treat others with love and respect”
“Be happy, joyful, and grateful”
and “Reflect on the kindness of other people”
If you seem to struggle at times with your body, I recommend taking the “I-Love-My-Body” pledge found here and put an end to the personal bullying. If the things you say to yourself aren’t things you would want said to your daughter or your best friend, stop saying them.
In conclusion, go grab a brownie and watch those youtube videos one more time!!!