Body image issues. We all got ’em. Big or small. It’s hard not to feel the pull to look a certain way into today’s image obsessed world. But when it comes to body image issues are we really getting to the root issue? Do body image issues just magically go away as we work to create a positive view of ourselves?
Before you answer that, let me ask you this:
What is your biggest fear?
That’s the question I asked 1,000 women in an anonymous survey a couple weeks ago.
The results? Shocking.
“I’m afraid I’ll never see myself again. Myself as in before I got sick and gained weight.”
“I fear becoming ugly as I age.”
“I fear the damage that has already been done to my body is irreversible.”
“I’m afraid of having extra flesh in the waist.”
“I fear becoming less attractive and becoming invisible to the people around me.”
Let me back up a bit.
Some time ago I asked some of my Thank Your Body newsletter subscribers some important questions. Like how important is exercise? Do you like to move? How do you feel about your body?
Take a Peek Into the Results
- 95% of the people surveyed were women.
- 70% fall between the ages of 25 – 55
- 100% feel that exercise is important to health
- Only 30% love to exercise. Many hate it.
But here’s the real kicker:
- Less than 10% said they love their body.
When I opened up the results and looked at that tiny number, I cried.
More than 90% of women dislike or hate their body. This is bad.
But it gets worse.
I started reading the responses to the question, “What is your biggest fear.”
“I fear that I won’t be attractive to my husband.”
“I’m afraid I’ll never feel beautiful.”
Then I read the responses to the question, “What is your secret wish.”
“I wish I looked younger.”
“To be like I was 20 again.”
“I wish I could look better than my friends so that I’m not the ‘ugly’ friend anymore.”
This is more than dealing with poor body image issues. This is what happens when the body is something just to be looked at. This is what happens when movement is reduced to exercise, and exercise is nothing more than a way to fit into those skinny jeans.
Something needs to change.
But you want to look beautiful, right?
I get it. Trust me.
Growing up I had a decent grasp on who I was. I knew I wasn’t the smartest. I definitely wasn’t the most popular. But I had confidence. I had friends. I had a sense of humor. And I had a drive and knack for getting things done.
You could say I felt comfortable in my own skin.
“In” being the key word.
When it came to my outside appearance, I was far less self-assured.
For the most part, I was okay being the “funny one.” Or the one with a “great personality.” But still, like anyone else, I wanted to feel beautiful.
And I rarely did.
There is a lot of awesome stuff happening in the world of body image right now. Which is good because there has been (and continues to be) a LOT of crap flung at women. The world makes it easy to fall into the trap. You know the one. It’s the trap that tells you to spend money on that special product to make you firmer, smaller, and more beautiful.
The glossy, photoshopped images of imaginary flawless models.
The endless array of cosmetics and beauty potions.
The never-ending swing of fashion trends.
You know all too well that there are a lot of people making money off of YOU feeling less-than-awesome.
That’s why I applaud those people who are trying to shift the perspective. I am happy to see companies who honor the many shapes and sizes of real women.
Still. The whole concept of having positive body image is flawed.
Why? Well, take a moment to stop and think about what your body can do.
It gets you to and from the grocery store. It does a good job holding your hat in place. And yeah, it can look pretty darn fantastic in that little black dress you just bought.
Your body can also think. And express. And convey. Your body can communicate a part of you that words can’t. Your body allows you to connect with others. With the world. It’s the medium by which you experience life.
That’s why I’m ready to challenge the whole idea of body image. Even the “good” kind.
Because your body is not an image!
Your body is not some likeness or representation of you. It’s not just something to be looked at. Your body is a critical part of your whole self.
While the shift from seeing your flaws to seeing your natural beauty is AWESOME, it still misses the mark. It still separates YOU from YOUR BODY. It still keeps your body as something merely to be seen.
It tells the same lie: How you look determines your value.
Again, I’m NOT suggesting that feeling beautiful is bad. You should feel beautiful. You are beautiful.
But when you talk about having a positive body image you are still focusing on what your body looks like instead of what it can do. Your body becomes an object to be consumed.
It’s time to mind your movement.
Running, dancing, lifting weights—it’s all part of your movement potential. So is sitting, squatting, reading, and breathing. As is hugging, crying, sleeping, and just “being.” An understanding touch, a pat on the back, lifting someone who is down. Big movements, small movements. Movement is the very essence of change.
Do you want to see changes in your life? In the world? Get moving. Stop fighting your body. You are not a picture to behold. You (with your body) are a vehicle for change.
Want to get rid of body image issues? It’s time to leave the body image era behind.
If you are afraid of getting old or ugly it’s probably because you’ve disconnected yourself from your body. Reconnect and get moving. Don’t fear sagging boobs. Fear being reduced to an image. Don’t wish for flawless skin. Wish for the courage to change the world for the better.
Let’s celebrate what your body can do. Let’s hone in on the message you want your body to express. Celebrate the good things you bring to the world through your body. Acknowledge your power.
How do you deal with body image issues?