Body image. It can be a pain in the ass. We have a warped societal standard as to what constitutes beauty and then you have your own unique perception of your own beauty. And to add fuel to the fire, people become enamored with Photoshop images of celebrities and models and then try to look like that make-believe image.
Body image is such a huge part of my message as it relates to fitness and health. That’s one of the reasons why this blog is called The Power of Healing Through Fitness and Nutrition. And it’s why the stuff that rolls around in your head is part of my subtitle. For those who start diets and fail soon afterwards, you know how much your self esteem takes a hit every time you give up; and you know how much self esteem is so intertwined with body image.
I recently discovered Real Girls, Real Pressure: A National Report on the State of Self-Esteem, commissioned by the Dove® Self-Esteem Fund. In 2008, the study interviewed a nationally representative group of over 1,000 girls ages 8-17 and found that there’s a self-esteem crisis in this country that spreads through every element of a girl’s life including her looks, performance in school and relationships with friends and family. Take a look at a few of the staggering statistics from the report:
The report also stated that girls with low self-esteem are less likely to receive praise from either parent and more likely to receive criticism than girls with high self-esteem.
What begins in the crib overflows into adulthood.
Based on the fact that women have always been my primary clientele and that my job is to get someone to look great, I couldn’t help but stop and think about how body image issues evolve over time. I don’t have a problem with people being sick and tired of being fat and out of shape and wanting to do something about it. But that’s a far cry from having a body image that never improves no matter how much weight you lose. What is the driving underlying issue and how does it get addressed?
The physical/external changes will not take place without an internal shift in thinking, and often times what people find is that the work it takes to address the internal issues is harder than the work it takes to lose the weight, so they quit the weight loss and continue to blame it for their unhappiness. The reality is, you have to take action. You can’t blame your past, your upbringing or anyone in it. Now it’s about you doing the work with that stuff that rolls around in your head, but that hard work will empower you.
Rest assured that there is a way to heal and to begin to look at your body image with fresh eyes. But you can’t try using old patterns that don’t work. Use a different approach. Each person will discover that they have their own approach. It might be group support, it might be counseling, it might be something unique to your situation. But enter the door knowing that the process of losing weight alone will not magically fix it and you’ll need patience and practice.
I’ve seen my own clients make the shift. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.
Dove® is doing a great job bringing self esteem workshops and awareness to young girls and women alike, and this may help start the conversation if you have a young daughter, but you’ve got to bring it home each day.
It’s time for a call to action. Please leave a comment and share what first step you’ll take. You’ll find that the sharing of comments will get you thinking in a very different way
Click here for more information about the Dove® Self-Esteem fund and the full National Report on the State of Self-Esteem.