Comparing Bodies

comparing bodies

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.

 

 

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7 Ways To Love Your Body Immediately

how to love your body

As warmer weather approaches, many women begin to consider how their bodies might look in the light of day after being comfortably shielded in sweatshirts and stretchy jeans for the better part of the last six months. In theory, it’s best practice not to give a damn about how you might compare to that celebrity in a bikini frolicking across a beach in Cabo – because most of it is unrealistic anyway (photo. shop.) But whether we agree with societal body shaming and industry standards or not, these images and the hyper-sexualization of women have a real effect on how we view ourselves.

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A Love Letter From Us To You: The Best Of

From birth control to body hair, our Love Letters panel of diverse women (now in their 20’s and 30’s) share their personal experiences from high school and beyond- and the advice they wish they had received growing up. Catch up on the ‘best of’ highlights below, and click the links to view more perspectives on each topic.

On Feminism: “What does feminism mean to me now? I don’t have the tidy philosophy that I did in high school or college. But, in practice, it means making choices – sometimes hard choices, like staying at work – to keep myself economically empowered. It means not setting myself up to be screwed if something happened to us or to him. It means protecting myself against pressure to stay with him for economic reasons.” –Miss Rosebud [read more]

On Parents: “If I was required to drink a glass of milk at dinner, I wanted to know why, and if it was so healthy, why they weren’t drinking one, too. And it was my body, why did they get to dictate what went into it… I needed a logical answer to every question, and I was also keenly aware of what I felt to be “injustice.” That they had complete authority, which seemed like a grave injustice to me, and I was constantly fighting them. The more I argued for autonomy, the more my parents tried to control me, and the more I rebelled from their control.” –Miss Peony [read more]

On Dangerous Relationships: “I was seemingly in control of every aspect of my life except this one, and I didn’t want anyone to know because a.) I loved this person and thought I could help him learn how to love and trust someone, since he had been abused as a child, and b.) I was embarrassed: I was a confident, smart, funny, no-nonsense feminist. This went against everything I believed in and the life I had built for myself.” –Miss Bluebells [read more]

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Love Letters: Hashtag Feminism

Love Letters

‘Love Letters’ is a Petal + Sass blog feature that regularly asks a group of diverse women in their 20’s and 30’s about their experiences with health, sex, emotional wellness, body image, college, careers – and what they wish they had known themselves as teenagers. Visit the Love Letters’ To My Former Self page to learn more about the contributors. 

Question Posed: What does feminism mean to you? Did you think much about feminism when you were in high school, or did it become more or less important to you later in life? 

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Happy *Dieting.

happy diet

Not Pictured: A Fistful of Cheetos.

It’s hard to avoid the word “diet” this time of year, glossing every magazine stand in neon yellow font, or uttered miserably with a deep sigh from the pouty mouths of your mother and best friend. After the holiday season splurge, feeling a little uncomfortable in your favorite jeans is par for the course. But constantly striving to simply “diet” has proven time and again to fail. Why don’t “diets” work? Because life – and the foods we have access to on a daily, livable basis – is not such an easy thing as to contain to a rigid formula.

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Hooking Up: Are We Ready?

Hooking Up

‘Hooking up’ is like a hurricane category 5 downgrade: not exactly full blown “sex,” but certainly anything and everything in its path that could be swept up along the way: lips, fingers, mouths, car seat upholstery, tongues, genitals, Netflix…

What we loosely define as ‘hooking up’ is a broad spectrum of sexual activities, and yet not all activities are treated, felt, or viewed equally – not on a personal or societal level. (If your grandfather ever found out about that pool house incident last summer he’d likely never look you in the eye again; your parents might start looking into military school; and your peers would probably assume you have a sex position emoji app.) So when is it ok to hook up? What are we to think when we hear that #SoAndSo hooked up Friday night after the party? Is everyone doing it? Should I be doing it? Is everyone comfortable doing it, or are they doing it just because they think everyone is doing it?

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Love Letters: Girl In The Mirror and Self Loathing

Love Letters

‘Love Letters’ is a Petal + Sass blog feature that regularly asks a group of diverse women in their 20’s and 30’s about their experiences with health, sex, emotional wellness, body image, college, careers – and what they wish they had known themselves as teenagers. Visit the Love Letters’ To My Former Self page to learn more about the contributors.

Question Posed: What advice would you give to a girl who looks at her body in the mirror and hates what she sees? Is there any way to feel better about how you look?

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