Thursday, February 17, 2011
By Jody Marich
I recently read an article by Shaun Dreisbach, from Glamour about body image. Since I know a lot of girls with self-esteem and body issues, including myself, I thought it would be a good read. The article shocked me, but made me realize that something needs to change.
The glam squad did a survey with 300 women of all sizes that had to do with the thoughts and feelings that run through a woman's mind each day. The results were shocking:"Young women recorded an average of 13 brutal thoughts about their bodies each day"
Glamour did an experiment to find more alarming news."97% of women will be cruel to their bodies today." The experiment was extended to women across the country: record/ note every negative or anxious thought about your body in the course of one full day. The results came back with 97% having at least one, as Glamour put it, "I hate my body" moment.
A Cincinnati psychologist, Ann Kearney-Cooke, Ph.D., specializing in body image helped Glamour design the survey. "It’s become such an accepted norm to put yourself down that if someone says she likes her body, she’s the odd woman out. I was in a group discussion recently, and when one woman said, ‘I actually feel OK about the way I look,’ another woman scrunched up her face and said, ‘I have never in my whole life heard anyone say that—and I’m not sure I even believe you.’ That’s how pervasive this negative body talk is. It’s actually more acceptable to insult your body than to praise it," said Kearney-Cooke. This quote reminds me of the scene from Mean Girls where they all talk about how they have flaws while Lindsay Lohan says nothing. They look at her like she is crazy.
I don't think people realize how hard we all are on ourselves and the ones we love. I know when I was younger, I was called fat and told to lose weight and now it is always with me. I try not to worry about calories and enjoy what I eat but sometimes that negative body image kicks in. In the Glamour article it notes, "Nearly 63 percent of survey respondents said they had roughly the same number of negative thoughts as they expected. But few realized how venomous those thoughts were until they were down on paper."
"Our unattainable cultural beauty ideals, our celebrity worship—those all play a part," says Kearney-Cooke. I 100% agree with Ms. Kearney-Cooke, the image that is portrayed everywhere is thin, beautiful, clear skin, luscious hair, gorgeous body, etc. Even in other countries there are pressures to look a certain way. Take a look at this post from the blog Dressful. Eva ordered an issue of Vogue India to see what ideals were inside. She was shocked at what she discovered. There were multiple advertisements for skin lightening cream. There is a lot of pressure from magazines and beauty products to have lighter skin because as Eva put it in her post, "They believe dark skin is ugly and light skin guarantees more opportunities in life."
We can't hide from the fact that all countries, generations and ethnicities have pressure and body issues. Everything from "I have too many wrinkles" to " I'm too fat" run through people's minds especially women's'.
This next part saddens me to the point of worrying about kids I don't even have yet. It makes me once again think there has got to be a way to fix this body image issue. "In a University of Central Florida study of three- to six-year-old girls, nearly half were already worried about being fat—and roughly a third said they wanted to change something about their body."--- This tid bit from the Glamour article scares me. I want to have children one day BUT I want them to be happy, healthy and playful not worried about looks at such a young age.
Something has gotta give here. We can't be passing our negative body image issues onto future generations.
So how do we fix this?
The article goes on to talk about, "Silencing your inner mean girl."
CHECK THIS OUT: "It’s worth it for not just the mental peace but your physical health as well. Research at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, suggests that women who obsess over their body and diet have chronically elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol (even when their life is not otherwise stressed)—and, as a result, may suffer from elevated blood pressure, lower bone density, higher amounts of unhealthy belly fat and even menstrual problems. “And this was among women in their twenties!” exclaims lead researcher Jennifer Bedford, Ph.D. “If you continue on this path, it could have a real impact on heart, bone and reproductive health 10 or 20 years down the road."- Glamour.
So to my friends, and the rest of you that really obsess over looks and weight... STOP. It's only hurting you in the long run.
Glamour came up with 7 things to turn your negative thoughts around.
1. Rewire you brain: My translation is, instead of listing the "CONS" about your body, list the "PROS!" There has got to be something you like whether it's your eyes, hair, whatever, choose something and go from there. Kearney-Cooke suggests "keeping a pen handy to note things you do that make you feel good about your body... Doing this puts positive stuff front-of-mind and starts becoming instinctive.”
2. Ask yourself: Is this negative feeling really about your body or is there something else causing the bashing.
3. Exercise: You will physically and emotionally feel better. If you set a goal of lifting a certain weight or running a certain distance and you achieve it, that will boost your self-esteem. Womenshealth.gov says, "Regular exercise has been shown to boost self-esteem, self-image, and energy levels."
4. Say "STOP!": If you have to, yell at yourself to stop the negative body image thoughts. I have done it a couple times and it helps. My boyfriend always corrects me too. If I say something negative, he will make me say "I'm beautiful" three times before we move on.
5. Remind yourself: Fretting over body issues doesn't get you anywhere. I recently heard a saying that I love, "Worry is the misuse of the imagination." So don't worry or obsess about the bad things, use your imagination and do something to create a better self-image.
6. Appreciate your body: Realize all the things it does for you. You can move around, explore, live because of your body. Be thankful you are alive.
7. Play up your strengths: Don't compare to others. I'm guilty of this but we all have qualities that are better than others. Someone might be "prettier" on the outside, but you could be prettier on the inside. Focus on the good traits you have and be proud of who you are.
We need to stop being so emotionally abusive to ourselves. If a significant other was saying such hurtful things, hopefully you wouldn't take it or maybe even get out of the relationship. People need positive reinforcements in their lives to believe in themselves and have a good body image.
In the end, we all have things we want to work on or fix about ourselves, but don't dwell on it. Just know you are unique and beautiful in your own way. The next time a negative idea pops in you head, say "NO! I am beautiful just the way I am."