My Body, My Self 

body image

With so much emphasis on women’s bodies in our culture, and with all the media images imposing a narrow standard for beauty, it might seem impossible to have and maintain a positive body image.  The following four blogs in MyBodyImage discuss how to cultivate a positive body image using My Body Journal  as a tool to help locate your thoughts around your body. These blogs build upon each other and discuss how to develop a positive body image with discussion and tools centered around the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA’s) definition of a “positive body image:”

I’d like to re-set our eating intentions to a different time when women didn’t have eating and body image problems like today. I want to take you back 100 years to our grandmother’s younger days. Let’s consider your young grandmother’s relationship to food and her body and what it could teach us. Let’s make eating just eating again. I’d like to ratchet down the emotional investment and the stakes for each piece of food we put in our mouths. No obsession. No emotional attachment to a number on the scale. Let’s think about eating for nourishment and for pleasure like people did forever before our day and age.

My Body, Myself addresses mindshare --the time in your life and space in your mind taken up with your body’s appearance and your eating behavior.  We all live somewhere on the mindshare continuum.

You could be obsessed with staying thin; people suffering from anorexia have 100% mindshare on food.  Or you could be preoccupied with going on diets -- restricting your food to lose weight -- with potentially between 25%-75% of your mindshare devoted to what you eat.  Or you could spend your day noticing how your body appears to others: checking yourself on your scale, mirror, fitbit, and in selfies -- just making sure you are "okay." Or you could have a tape-recording playing in the background of your mind, telling you something horrible about your body's appearance at points throughout the day. 

Many women spend the healthy years we have being alive distracted from living because we feel shame about our bodies. Many women engage in a tremendous amount of self-judgment and self-punishment around food and weight. Even Oprah, one of the most successful women on the planet, probably goes to bed feeling guilty because of what she ate that day. Time spent being disappointed in yourself can be a remarkable time-sink in a person’s life.  Research shows that the average women spends 31 years of her life dieting. How much time have you spent in past decades telling yourself that your body was flawed? Look at pictures of yourself from those olden days; do you now realize how wonderful you actually looked? From an objective vantage point, you can appreciate the smile on your younger face and look in your younger eyes, and not hone in on just how thin (or not) your legs looked.