Women and body imagine…ugh.
I don’t mean to disregard the men here as so many guys out there are not content with their bodies either. However, it seems women are forever battling, always fussing, and never happy with the way they look.
This past summer I interviewed about 15 of my female friends in regards to this tough issue. The catalyst for this survey? My own post baby bod! I wish I could honestly say that it is only during these many months of my body trying to find a new normal after pregnancy that I have struggled with my body imagine. However, that is not the case. I remember first being aware of my body, how it looked, and trying not to get fat, at a very young age. It wasn’t a big issue for me growing up, but it was there. Thank goodness I didn’t have social media, cable, or celebrity rag mags back then to influence this even more! Although body image has been an area of struggle for me throughout the years, I was able to find a place of contentment by learning about being healthy and strong, rather than skinny.
This is the survey that I sent out to the women:
Would you say you have a positive self-image?
Would you say you have a positive body image?
If yes, why?
If no, why?
Is it easier to list thing you like or don’t like about yourself…your body?
Is it hard for you take a compliment?
How many times a day you have a negative or anxious thought about your body?
Do you compare yourself to celebrities, friends, or just yourself?
Do you body bash when you are with your friends? If yes, does this make you feel better?
Are you dissatisfied in other areas of your life?
Do you think people are too proud or cocky if they have a positive body image, are self-assured, or self-confident?
What are some of the worst thoughts you’ve had about your body?
What do you think causes body image insecurities?
Any other thoughts or comments on this topic?
The honesty and insight of the answers that rolled in were both sad and inspiring.
Interestingly enough many of the women said that they had a positive self-image, but not a positive body imagine. They like who they were as a person, but not so much how they looked. A trending answer for those women who had a positive self-image and/or body image was that this idea was instilled into them while they were growing up. (And the women who agreed on this are of ALL different shapes and sizes. Their self-love stems from feeling loved and accepted by others; now and early on!)
Although some of the women compare themselves to their friends and peers, most of the women only compare themselves to themselves. They were secure enough to know that comparing themselves to celebrities was a silly thing to do. (We are all too aware of airbrushing, plastic surgery, personal chefs, and hours of the best personal training.)
Another tough one was that many of them had negative thoughts about their body throughout the day, at least once if not multiple times.
Many of the women have a better outlook on this issue because they are now in a loving marriage, have a new perspective, or are happy in other areas of their lives.
Here were some of my favorite responses from the survey:
As far as my self-image, I think I’ve always been a positive, confident person, which I guess was instilled in me by my parents. Regarding my body image, I try very hard to take good care of myself physically. It’s hard as you grow older, your body does not look like it once did! But I know there’s nothing you can do about that, nothing that I’m going to do any way (i.e. surgery) so I just try to embrace those changes, knowing I’m a pretty fit person, especially for my age. I also think that being surrounded by the group of friends that I’ve had for over 30 years, a group who is very confident and does not “body bash” helps. I’ve been surrounded by positive people in my closest circles for most of my life.
I think the way you’re raised has a lot to do with the way you view yourself and your body. Parents who are critical of their children produce insecure kids. For kids, I think all the “sexy” images they see, make them feel like that’s what they should look like, although, I also see a lot of people who don’t have “perfect” bodies, who are very comfortable in their skin, and in less clothing, i.e. sleeveless, strapless clothes. I also think that young people can be very affected by one thing that someone says to them, meaning if a girl has a boyfriend who tells her something bad about her body, that could bring on insecurities that she never had before…….
I have learned to like who God made me. Complaining is not honoring to the One who made me.
I think “quiet” self-assurance and confidence are beautiful. A person who is truly at peace with their body and soul doesn’t need to talk about it because it shows in everything they do, from their marriage, to parenting, to friendships, to self-care. I consider people who need to constantly talk about how great they are, or feel entitled to put others down are arrogant and I avoid them at all costs.
To be honest I think about how I hope my kids never have to worry so much about their weight. I hope I am not passing bad habits to them.
Right after I had my baby (1 year ago) I thought I would just never care again… not in a bad way, just like, how did I spend SO much energy worrying about all this?! Since a little time has gone by, I do still care, but it has changed. I still try to get in as many workouts as I can a week because I just feel better doing it. And I try to eat healthy ‘most’ days of the week, but have plenty of splurges and ‘don’t care’ days. And even though I do look in the mirror and still mostly only see negative aspects of my body, I truly am SO grateful for and really do LOVE my body for what it’s given me. I often even get really emotional just thinking how grateful I am for my body allowing me to carry her and keep her safe for so long. (I’m sure you feel the same way!) So no matter how much weight I want to lose or whatever, I have more love for my body in general than I could explain. I also am going to try to make a conscious effort NOW to stop making any negative comments regarding my body. Especially having a little girl, I want her to think that we are both (and all women) perfect just the way we are. And I know even if I tell her she’s perfect, but then she hears me say oh gosh I have such a huge stomach… she’s going to take that in and think it’s okay to body bash. So I’m going to work on that!!! 🙂
I think surrounding yourself with positivity is key! I really have no room or tolerance for negative peeps in my life.
All of my issues have become less of a problem as I get older and learn more coping skills to deal with negative thoughts, past trauma, weight issues, being hard on myself, etc….
I’m never gonna be a Twiggy, and I know that. Of course I want to look good for husband, but he loves me for “me” regardless and is very supportive whether I am going through a “I’m dieting and exercising period again” or eating more than maybe I should be…
I feel that I have the body that I earned. Good or bad, I am where I am based on my actions and I take responsibility for that. I don’t believe a person should complain unless they are doing something about the situation they are complaining about. If you don’t like it, do something about it.When I’m feeling down on myself I always tell myself 3 things1) When given the choice, always choose the healthier option (this helps control guilt from eating bad foods)2) Just show up- You may not give 100% in every workout, but at least you’re there! Even if you only work out 3 days a week, that’s 3 more days than the majority of the population in America.3) Balance is key both physically and emotionally (food/ fitness/ family)
Soap box time:)
Women will always be worried about the number on the scale or dress size to a certain extent. Health and weight loss wishes are not a bad thing. But what would each of us tell a friend who was struggling with self-image? My guess is that we would offer them compassion! We would never talk to people that we love and care for with such harsh words and negativity. So why then do we do it to ourselves? Now, if you are not healthy, stop. Get healthy, enough is enough. Eat right, move, sleep, and play. Take care of yourself. Just get it done. If you are healthy than start enjoying the journey! Weight loss, new clothes, the ability to run a mile, or cook a new healthy meal. Enjoy making chocolate chip cookies and tasting the cookie dough. Enjoy the strength you are gaining from your exercise and the rest you are loving from a good night’s sleep. Enjoy modeling good behaviors for your kids, and celebrate as they make healthy choices. Have an awesome talk with your running buddy, and enjoy lazy Sundays without the guilt. Be happy that you can go for walks and get to choose the foods you eat. Have some chocolate, have some wine, and then forget about it! Follow motivating and positive accounts on social media, and if it’s not or causes you to compare, delete it. Quit fretting about how long it’s taking you to reach a goal and just trust the process. Take a complement and genuinely compliment other women often. And if you are struggling, need to vent, or are dealing with some negativity, find an outlet so it doesn’t fester.
At almost 6 month’s post baby I have enjoyed every moment of being a new mom. (God knows what you need, when you need it!) However, my biggest struggle in the midst of this joy has been with my body image. (I actually hate to admit that, but it’s the truth.) After 9 months of being pregnant I thought, ok…back to feeling like myself again! Uh…NOT! But you know what? That’s ok. I am learning so much about being patient with myself and allowing my body to do what it needs to do in order to take care of this baby. I am sleep deprived, hormonal, hot (as in sweaty), and squishy all over. Daily, as I put my stretchy yoga pants on yet again, I am disciplining myself to be in total AWE and AMAZEMENT that THIS body created and housed a baby for nine months. Now THIS body is taking care of her every need 24 hours a day. THIS body is strong and able to do a couple burpees and run a couple of miles once again. THIS body is being fueled with good eats. I am squishy, but THIS body is freakin amazing!! I am trusting the process. (I am able to trust the process by actively choosing to each moment and because of the love and support I feel from those around me.)
Never do I want body image to be an issue for Georgie. As I have learned to love my body in many different seasons, I hope and pray that she learns to love hers! It is so important for us as adults to model good habits, patterns, and behaviors for our kids. My take-away habitudes from this experiment, and looking towards the future are this:
Be grateful; our bodies are strong and amazing. Did you get that? STRONG and AMAZING!
Take care of the body you were given. You only get one.
Surround yourself with positive people.
Embrace every season of life and the changes that come with it. Laugh lines and wrinkles, mommy pooches and scars. It’s not just our bodies that change as the years go by, it’s our whole perspective on the world.
Take the survey yourself and see how you really feel about your body when asked the straight forward questions. Next ask, where is there negativity in this? Where do I need to change? How can I be healthier? And how can I show self compassion? YOUR body is AMAZING!!