We all (ok, most of us) moan and grown when we discuss fitting into our summer wardrobe or looking good at holiday parties. We reminisce about how we used to look wonderful and wonder - what happened?
We women are the best in world at making others feel great about themselves while verbally (or silently) putting ourselves down. How many times do we assure our girlfriends of their beauty and value? Yet we overtly call ourselves fat, slobby, haggard, past-our-sell-by-date and a hundred other mean things we'd NEVER say to our friends.
Is it just the thing to do? Are we just used to calling ourselves names? Are we fishing for compliments? Do we really believe our self name-calling or are we afraid to appear conceited by saying we're happy as we are? Or do we have a distorted notion of what "healthy" and "beautiful" actually is?
Maybe it's a combination of all of the above.
I'm NOT how I used to be. My weight is good, my health is fine, thank God. But I'm not quite as lean as I used to be. My belly is not rock hard anymore. And I'm getting lines at the sides of my eyes.
But I need to remember that three human beings grew in that belly. Lines around my eyes are going to form because I laugh - a lot. Ain't that grand?
February is National Body Awareness Month. A month where we need to focus on not putting ourselves down and learning that healthy does not necessarily mean skinny and a few facial lines don't mean that Death is knocking on the door. We all know that large amounts on fat on our bodies are not good. Being over-weight can lead to heart disease, type 2 diabetes and a higher risk of certain cancers.
While some are naturally thin, starving ourselves into being a size 00 (yes, that's actually a size now) is not healthy or beautiful. It's torture. And these unrealistic expectations are causing women to form a dangerous body perception. They see ultra thin celebrities on magazine covers and fail to recognize that they are air-brushed to within an inch of their lives! And have professional hair and makeup that took two or three hours to create. They also have personal chefs and trainers and more money than most of us to get the body they think is expected of them. But they may also face eating disorders, and other conditions like osteoporosis that could eventually creep up on them.
So bear in mind that a healthy diet is vital. So is exercise. But being a size 7 or 8 is not bad. It's not ugly and it doesn't need to be changed. What needs changing is our perspective about what health and 'beauty' really is. We need a 'body awareness' that is both realistic and healthy. Because the unrealistic view we have of what the human body is supposed to look like, inside and out, is affecting millions of women every day.
And our daughters (and sons) are always watching and listening. They hear their mother - usually the most beautiful woman in the world to them - put herself down and call herself names because she doesn't look like a movie star. Remember, the movie star doesn't look like a movie star either! And behaviors and patterns are repeated by our children. When your kid tells you that you're beautiful - say thank you! And tell them how much fun exercise is (it's ok to fake that part if applicable) and how good it makes us feel.
For more information about Body Awareness Month, check out the NEDA here:
and if you'd like to talk to someone about issues you have with body awareness or self-image, you can call the National Eating Disorders helpline at 1.800.931.2237. You don't have to have an eating disorder to call. But they can help you achieve a healthy attitude toward your body and leave the self-criticism behind.
Incidentally, the week of February 23 is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.
What is your perception of your body? What's your self-image?
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