Your body does not look like hers. Do you want it to?
How many minutes have you spent analyzing your body into nothingness? How many hours does that add up to in a lifetime?
We all compare our bodies. As a visual culture hyped up on the over-sexualized female form, it’s easy to forget that your body is capable of much more than merely delighting the fancies of passer-bys. And maybe we are reared that way from the get go; a new study indicates that when your parents comment on weight – for better or worse – it is more likely to have an impact on how you view your body later in life. According to a recent New York Times article, girls are particularly poised for emotional destruction in response to weight-centric language.
Surveying over 500 women in their 20’s and 30’s, the research suggested that regardless of a woman’s actual BMI, those who recalled their parents making statements about their size as teens were more prone to believing they needed to lose 10-20 lbs – living in a continual state of body dissatisfaction.
Rebecca Puhl, deputy director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut, summarized: “…girls are exposed to so many messages about thinness and body weight, and oftentimes women’s value is closely linked to their appearance. If parents don’t challenge those messages, they can be internalized.”
Feeling dissatisfied or shame about your body is inevitable when the societal focus – especially the scrutiny of loved ones – is set on ideal physical standards of beauty. If you experience unwanted comments about your body, it’s important to point out that these comments are unhelpful to you, and strategize ways to better communicate (or better yet, not communicate about your weight, specifically, at all!) Instead, the focus should be on on doing something – not saying something. Engaging in active, healthy activities together like bowling or hiking is a great way to shift the discussion from weight and instead focus on strengthening your relationships, and feeling good about yourself, for something other than mere appearance.
Develop your talents. Nourish your mind. Our bodies are capable of so much more than meets the eye; comparing yourself to “her” will never measure up. What can your body do? Let’s start there.