We all have an ‘ideal body’ we desire, but I want to encourage you to LOVE YOUR BODY! So many people, including supermodels, have things they want to improve or change about themselves. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to want to improve yourself; however it is wrong when it’s unrealistic or you become obsessed with it. This ‘ideal body’ may be based on what people have told us to look like (personal experience) or based on images we’ve seen (such as these photo-shopped images seen in the media) or even back to what we used to be in a very young age. My personal opinion is that body image problems are on the rise (maybe due to increased pressure from the media or maybe the awareness of it has advanced). Hopefully by reading this blog you will have more of an awareness of how you feel about your own body or even yourself as an individual and if your feelings affect you decisions to control your weight.
My’ ideal’ body
The one celebrity body I always wanted was Jessica Alba’s. I have always thought how feminine yet toned she looks. Most of my teenage years I did all I could to get a stomach like hers. At one point I did achieve this, I had great abs! However it did come with a cost.
I was dealing with depression at the time so I lost a lot of weight due to stress, not out of healthy eating and training! I was living off Red bull to keep my energy levels up, having moments where I would just crash, and needing a few days off from University to get to a level where I could just get through another day. I was a very unhealthy 6 stone at the age of 19 with a height of 5’5’’. No one really knew or understood what I was going through, no matter how much they tried. I was in my own prison wanting someone to help me out, yet I was too proud to show how much I was struggling. I used to cover up how I really felt by trying to make people laugh and became obsessed with how I looked.
Me in 2008- unhealthy and depressed
The more I looked in the mirror tensing my abs and grabbing parts of my thighs that I wanted to get rid of, the more I hated my body and myself. I was striving for perfection. I constantly had comments from people saying how thin I was, how I could eat what I wanted but stay thin but how I had a ‘big bum.’ So for years and even now I have a love/hate relationship with my bum! I’ll admit I still focus a lot on wanting a flat stomach and a smaller bum, yet I’m at a point where I am now happy with myself as a person and don’t feel I have to change how I look to be content. I also realized that I want a life to not worry about how much or what I eat (to a degree!) I enjoy myself but when I do put weight on, I no longer worry if people will like me.
Negative body image
With the help of my faith, I came out of depression and learnt (and I am still learning) to love myself because Jesus first loved and loves me. At the beach this summer I looked around self consciously (I know I am not ‘fat’) but noticed I was drawn to look and admire beautiful women. These beautiful women, to me, were the ones who were ‘curvier’ in comparison to these magazine models! They weren’t toned, thin and did not have defined abs! But they looked happy, they seemed so confident and clearly did not care what people thought. If you ask most guys they prefer ‘curvier’ girls to the ‘skinny’ girls. Now I’m not saying it’s wrong to be ‘skinny’ and I also hate that term too! But I am addressing these ladies out there obsessed with wanting to lose so much weight that it’s unhealthy. You are beautiful as you are-is my point! Don’t change yourself because the world tells you to.
Whenever I have a potential new client I always ask them, why do you want to lose weight? Apart from the usual ‘be fitter’, ‘be healthier’ etc I can guarantee they will also say they want to improve their confidence. There is nothing wrong with wanting to feel better in your body to have extra confidence, however getting all your confidence from your body is a big no no!
A negative body image or body image issues is not that you want to lose a few pounds, wear makeup, love clothes, dislike certain parts of your body or that you have a disfigurement or unusual appearance. However a negative body image is when:
- You think about your appearance at the expense of other activities
- You avoid social situations, workplaces or relationships because of the way you look
- You believe you can only feel confident or be happy by changing the way you look
- You believe that the way you look is preventing you from taking part in certain activities
- You worry excessively about your appearance
- You repeatedly check your appearance
- You consistently use very heavy make-up
- You refuse to leave the house without make-up on
Basically do you constantly worry that others think bad of you or that people’s opinions are based on how you look? Poor body image can lead to low self esteem, a higher risk of self harm and being bullied. If you feel this is you, it may be good to speak to someone you trust or even seek help from a medical expert. Read on below for a few tips to help you fight against a negative body image and how you can love yourself!
Media and stereotypes
There was a recent study** where 1,800 women aged 18-40 were asked to choose words to describe a woman they had never met but were told was either ‘overweight’ or ‘thin.’ The woman described as ‘thin’ was stereotyped as self-centered, superficial, controlling and bitchy; and the ‘overweight’ was stereotyped as ‘sloppy, lazy and slow.’ Shocking isn’t it?! But weight discrimination is real, it’s no wonder we have become a culture obsessed with our weight and never happy with how we look.
But where have these stereotypes come from?! Years ago being a bigger weight was healthier and you were deemed as being well-off? I believe its influence is from the media, we are constantly bombarded with magazines with celebrities with amazing bodies. Sometimes magazines even slate/bring down celebrities for being too big or too small. Models in advertisements weigh 23% less than the average person. Below is a picture of Selena Gomez, which as you look at the picture you think she looks good right? Well according to her BMI calculations she is underweight! Why are magazines forcing us to be underweight?!
Selena Gomez- classed as underweight for her BMI
It’s not enough that these celebrities and models are thin enough, so editors Photoshop or airbrush pictures to make them look ‘perfect.’ No wonder us ‘normal’ people feel failures as we can’t look like them-they are unrealistic! Again WHY do they insist we become stick thin?! One word- MONEY! Advertisers believe thin people sell products, they make people feel inadequate, ‘fat’, unattractive and therefore we feel that insecure we have to have their product! Have a look at the examples of celebrities who have been airbrushed below:
Kelly Clarkson (Ironic how there is an article about body confidence!)
Kate Winslet (Both photos taken at the same time-November 2011)
It’s not just women that are photo-shopped either! Check out the images of these male celebs:
The media can also make weight loss seem so easy and quick…yet it’s not healthy or normal! So when we don’t lose the weight, we revert to our old ways and feel worse about ourselves!
Stating the facts
Most runway models meet the BMI physical criteria for anorexia
4 out of 5 women are dissatisfied with their appearance
90% of females overestimate their body size
In 1950 the average size of a woman’s and mannequin’s waist were 34 inches; whereas today the average waist size of a woman is 37 inches but a mannequin used in most shops is 31 inches!
The plus size model ten years ago ranged between the sizes 12-18; now the sizes range between 6 and 14!
Tips to improve your body image
So now we know not to believe everything the media feeds you, how can you love yourself and love your body? Here are some ideas or tips below
–Write down or think of how your body helps you, what it can do (e.g. live, breathe, play!)
–Deal with your emotions in different ways scream when you’re on your own, sing out loud, play sports, paint, write down how you feel then burn it! Not dealing with any negative emotions means you are ignoring it. But face your fears and notice how you can control it and not let it control you.
–Ask people you trust what you actually look like, someone who you know truly care for you and believe them!
–Speak to someone, even if it’s a counselor, it doesn’t mean you are crazy it just means you need to let off steam for being strong too long
–Evaluate what your relationship with your body is daily, why is it like that?
–Be positive about you-no one else maybe! Look yourself in the mirror and tell yourself daily things you like about yourself and about your body (try at least 3 things every day!) Try not to focus on your physical attributes.
–Get rid of those magazines, especially the ones with the photo-shopped models!
–Get rid of the wrong people in your life, the ones who only like you for how you look and not for who you are as a person
–Remind yourself that your reflection does not define your worth, is how you look more important than who you are or how you act?
–How are you really feeling? Not ‘Fat’ or ‘Thin’…go deeper! Why do you feel like that? How can you change how you feel?
–Ask God what he thinks of you! The bible tells us not to be rejected on the basis of our outward appearance (“The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Samuel 16:7) God thinks your good! (“I made you in my image and likeness…when I saw you I saw that you are good” Genesis 1:26,31). God KNOWS and LOVES you! (1 John 4:9), yes he knows all your good and bad but still loves you. God knows your potential and is excited about your life (Jeremiah 29:11).
–Ask yourself what are your labels? (e.g. waste of space, lazy, happy, caring etc?) Are they more negative than positive?
–Complete the following:
One of my greatest strengths is that I am
This strength makes people around me feel
List things you enjoy doing or good at
Now on a separate piece of paper write down lies people have said about you (e.g. no good at school, boring, mardy/moody etc)…
….With this piece of paper, burn it, throw in the bin, screw it up, stick it to a small rock and throw it away! Don’t think about these negative names, you are free from these lies! (“If God’s son sets you free, you are free indeed! John 8:36)
Healthy regards and God bless!
Leigh x x x