Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Women's Body Image: The Message We Send When We Criticize Others

I had to get this post out, because I felt it was important to share after seeing something on Facebook that upset me.  This post may be triggering to those who have suffered with body issues and/or eating disorders.

When you post an image of someone with a body type you may not like and say, you "...wouldn't hit it," you're commodifying that person's body, especially those who identify as female.  While I have the right to ignore the post, I will hit you up with some knowledge that person may be suffering with, anorexia, body dysmorphia.  It is all too common for women to feel the inadequacy from society everyday from the content we see online, magazines and any marketing that makes a product more "attractive."  We become obsessed with what we should look like and have shame in what we actually look like.

Personally, I have always been thick once I developed.  Gotta love them Gabuat genes, but I am proud of the strength that I have.  That doesn't mean I don't deal with my own issues.  I know what my body looks like when I train hard and limit my food intake.  I have felt great!  But it wasn't something that was sustainable all the time.  I just have to keep doing what is best for my health and that does not mean I have to be toned and skinny.  I always heard that I have a pretty face, even if I got a little big.  So, does that make me lucky then that I can be pretty at whatever size and that's supposed to make me feel good?

At my heaviest, I was 168 lbs , which I am only about 12 lbs under that now.  A few years back, I got down to 139 lbs, which lasted about a year, then I stopped going to crossfit and gained weight again.  Most of the time when I gained weight, I would hear it from my Mom, but I got upset with her when she said something about me eating ice cream and she stopped.  I cried and left the kitchen, because she embarrassed me in front of my sister and cousins.  I have learned to ignore the comments, but hearing this from my own Mother was crushing.  For those with children, we have to do better at teaching our children that we should be accepting of everyone at every size.  The comments you make about someones appearance can have a lasting impression on what's good enough in their parent's eyes.

Here are some facts from Common Sense Media:
  • Body image develops early in childhood.
  • Body image is influenced by family and culture.
  • Exposure to traditional media is a risk factor for developing body dissatisfaction.
  • More than half of girls age 6–8 indicate their ideal body is thinner than their current body.
  • 87% of female characters age 10–17 on the most popular kids' TV shows are below average in weight.
Body image being influenced by family and culture is definitely something we all should work on, especially if we have daughters who are easily influenced by their parents.  I recently said to my Mom, "If you don't have anything nice to say about ______, then don't say anything at all." and this was in front of my nephew.  It was to the point, maybe a little bit harsh, but sometimes we need the reminders about being kind to others, especially when it comes to body size.

Do yourself a favor today, tell yourself that you look good and you are loved and you are worth defending.  Share this with someone you care about and see how sharing that kindness makes them feel great.

A good read - The complex interplay of fat shaming and eating disorders

Girls and Body Image

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