Beauty and the Beast – Taking Back Control of Your Body Image

We live in an unbalanced culture when it comes to weight-some would even go so far as to say schizophrenic. Over 60% of us are overweight or obese and yet our ‘models’ are 23% skinnier than the average woman and our media is obsessed with the current weight crisis of the young hollywood starlet du jour. Even when we try to be healthy we are given to extremes- no carb diets, weight loss pills full of caffeine or worse, working out all the time….it is a fertile breeding ground for dysfunction around food, exercise, and our bodies. Most of us are completely dis-empowered, which only makes it more impossible to treat ourselves well. So how do we fight the power?

Rethinking Perfection: When we hold ourselves to the standards of what we see in movies and magazines we don’t have a chance. These media images are just that: images created with pretty women and a whole lot of lighting, makeup, and airbrushing, used to sell beauty and diet products. There is a different way of understanding beauty, one that respects strength and individuality.

Every single body is different. Let’s start celebrating health instead of perfection. Try eliminating or cutting down on the time spent reading magazines, watching t.v, etc. while finding examples of women of all different sizes and shapes who love their bodies, who are in shape but not malnourished, who treat their bodies as the tools of strength and perseverance that they are.

Understanding Resistance: The more we try to resist thinking about something, the more we think of it. That’s a proven fact. It’s why so many diets that rely on restricting calories, cutting out ‘bad foods’ and generally resisting so much in your life don’t work. Yeah, maybe we lose the weight for a while but eventually it comes back on because we are working from a place of negativity. In reading the blogs and talking to people who have kept the weight off successfully, one common theme keeps coming up: Lifestyle Change. They didn’t see themselves as dieting, rather they saw a life that didn’t work and in which weight was only one symptom of a larger problem. By understanding the reasons behind why we eat, the emotional compulsions and holes that make us fall into cycles of disease, we have a better chance of making the changes we need in order to come back to ourselves and be more aware of why we engage in the behaviors we do. So instead of resisting food, try to figure out ways of making whole and healthy foods a part of your life in a way that is sustainable. Take a healthy cooking class, make good substitution for unhealthy or fatty foods, and find fitness that you love (it is possible-whether it’s running, a dance class, simply walking-there is a form of movement out there that you will love, so explore your options!).

It is time to take our bodies and our self esteem back, empower ourselves to make healthy choices, and understand that a healthy body is not a cookie cutter shape-it is your own body in its own top form.