91% of women are unhappy with their bodies + resort to some form of extreme dieting/exercise routine in pursuit of the 'ideal body', and only 5% of women naturally possess the body type most often portrayed by Americans in the media.
ladies, we have a problem. it's called positive body image. we have none.
body image: how one sees herself when looking in the mirror; encompassing ones beliefs about her body, how one feels about her height, weight and shape, and how one feels IN her body.
negative body image: a distorted perception of ones shape. the belief that ones body size/shape is a sign of personal failure and unattractive when compared to others, often accompanied by feelings of shame, self-consciousness and anxiety.
positive body image: a clear, true perception of ones shape. appreciation of ones body along with the recognition that physical appearance does not dictate personal value, often accompanied by feelings of confidence and comfort.
we are surrounded by the message that our bodies exists purely for the envy and pleasure of other people. as women, our job [according to the media] is to satisfy our significant others, look great in clothes off-the-rack and make other women jealous. and because that's the case, we spend our lives making choices that promise to make us "thin", "skinny" or "attractive". forget about doing something because it will keep us healthy and agile well into our grey-haired years, or because we might actually enjoy it. there is the occasional "confidence is sexy" message touted to the masses. it's allllll about the bass, right!? but are we pursuing confidence because it's appealing to other people and makes us more attractive in the eyes of those around us? or because it's good for our minds, bodies, and our hearts?
on a regular basis we are bombarded with messaging that tells us that our main duties [as women] are to be desirable, please others and attract men. get rid of all of your body hair! keep your skin wrinkle free! get rid of those love handles! do everything humanly possible - and maybe even some questionable inhumane things - to fit into those skinny jeans! because oh my goodness, otherwise someone might think you're less than worthy. of what? I have no idea.
your relentless pursuit of that 'bikini body', 'beach ready butt', or 'supermodel legs' probably won't lead to a fulfilling relationship with your body image, and it probably won't lead to a sustainable and effective workout routine either. eating grapefruit for 47 days straight or drinking only green juices won't give you a greater sense of self or do anything for your confidence. you'll just be a cranky lady whose pooping her brains out every other hour. all in the name of beauty! I don't know about you, but that's not the definition of beauty that I aspire to live up to.
so where to go from here - try establishing your goals: fitness, nutrition, health and otherwise, based on your own objectives, not those society wants for you. forget eating for a six-pack and just eat well. don't workout to get skinny, just workout to feel well. don't live your life in the pursuit of a magazine cover body, just live well. you just might find that you feel better about who you are, how you look, and what your body can DO. Our culture has conditioned us all to believe that being healthy is no fun at all. well no kidding! starving yourself and being a slave to the elliptical sounds absolutely terrible! what do you love? what feels good? hiking? do it. swimming? yes. lifting weights? go for it girlfriend! having a body, respecting your body, and maybe even one day loving your body, feels really damn good.
so let's stop looking outside of ourselves to accept what we should look like, what we should do to get there and how we should feel about ourselves. look inward. find things that are fun, rewarding and life enhancing and do more of THAT.
your body is amazing. your body can do amazing things. yes, it's imperfect and might wobble a little at times, or maybe your legs get little bumps and ripples when you walk, or your belly rolls when you sit down. but that's okay. your size doesn't dictate who you are, but your strength, that does.
"what are you going to do, diet every day to make people happy? that's just dumb." - Jennifer Lawrence
Eat well. Live well. Be well.