We all know physical appearance is just a part of who you are. Clearly too much emphasis has been placed on appearance in Kardashian Culture. So, if appearance says little about your value as a person, what does say something about your character and value as a person to you? How do you define yourself? Is it in terms of being a loving mom? A kind friend? Capable at your job? It's probably a combination of these things that make up your whole you.
How much does your value as a person really require you to meet the body ideal lodged somewhere in your mind?
We all want to look good. However, most of us spend too much space in our minds thinking about our body, food and exercise. Maybe all this focus on your body and eating actually wouldn’t make as much difference to who you are, how you live your life, or how you value yourself.
Actresses and models may not be able to perform their job if their appearance isn’t within a prescribed boundry because they make a living by looking a certain way. So their market value is, at least in part, defined by their looks. But, for those of us who are lucky enough not to be models or actresses, we do not need to fit a physical mold for our career. We can do most of what we do looking good enough.
I never really understood the concept of good enough. I first heard it on Oprah, and it didn’t resonate with me. It seemed like settling for “just okay.” Of course I was good enough, but I am going for something a little bit better than that! However, I think it means quite a bit more in terms of this discussion. It means that you feel inside that you look good enough that you don’t need to worry about it so much. Good enough means, "I am feeling fine with this aspect of myself," and I don't need to spend time trying to fix it.
This is about balance. Is your appearance good enough to do what you are doing at this point in your life? Maybe it already is. Maybe your struggle with the scale and your body is not the magnitude of a problem in relation to the space that it takes up in your life?
What would you be doing with the space in your mind that is being used for thinking about your body and eating if we waived a magic wand and took that issue away? One woman I work with says she spends as much time thinking about this issue as her husband spends thinking about sports.
What would you do with that space in your mind if you didn’t spend time thinking about your body and eating?
Here is where the discussion gets really interesting. The answer to this question actually holds within it the kryptonite to body dissatisfaction. If the obsession with losing weight or eating a certain way were gone, you would have quite a bit of focus available to uncover your own abilities, resources, and capacities.
What do you love to do?
What you are good at?
You could use your inner resources and ideas to open yourself up to options for thinking and self-expression.
Would you go back to school and study what interests you?
Would you take up painting or dance?
I think this space is an opportunity to find other joys and ways of valuing, developing, and defining yourself. When you find more generative ways to spend your time, you might define yourself less by your appearance. You could focus more on your own value to yourself rather than how society values a women’s appearance – especially in our shallow Kardashian Culture.
Positive body image for young girls
Developing personal capacities is also a crucial piece of the body confidence discussion for young girls. It's important for them to develop other parts of themselves to define themselves by. We want to have them focus on what they are good at and what they enjoy doing. Finding their inner voice for who they are and what they love is simply a better use of their time than focusing so much on how much they weigh and what they should eat.
"The two most important days in your life are the day you are born, and the day you find out why." --Mark Twain
- Linda Bacon and Lucy Aphramor, Body Respect, 2014.
- Paul Campos, The Diet Myth, 2005.
- Carolyn Costin, Your Dieting Daughter, 2013 (2nd edition).
- Carolyn Costin and Gwen Schubert Grabb, 8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder Workbook, 2017.
- Renee Engeln, Beauty Sick, 2017.
- Judith Matz and Ellen Frankel, Beyond a Shadow of a Diet, 2014 (2nd edition).
- Susie Orbach, Fat is a Feminist Issue, 2006 (2nd edition).
- Rachel Simmons, Enough As She Is, 2018.
- Julia V. Taylor, The Body Image Workbook for Teens, 2014.
- Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works, 2012 (3rd edition). I boil down some of the essence of this book to 8 steps in MyBodyMySelf Post-its.
- Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch,Intuitive Eating Workbook: 10 Principles for Nourishing a Healthy Relationship with Food, 2017.
Favorite Podcast: Cristy Harrison's FoodPscyhe.
Favorite Blogger: Isabel Foxen Duke, Stop Fighting Food. If you are interested, google Isabel on YouTube; she does lots of interviews with host of different podcasts.