My Body, Myself 

mindfulness

I spent the last two weeks in Paris eating French food, drinking French wine, and talking about life with French women. It just doesn’t get much better than that for me! With all the discussion about body image and diet culture in the United States, I was fascinated to learn that the average French woman doesn’t have the same issues around her body image and eating that the average American woman has. While French society does put pressure on women to be thin, your average (not eating disordered) French woman does not hate her body, does not diet, and is not struggling with the same obsession and anxiety around food that most American women experience. 

As my French cousin Martine explained, “We enjoy good food every day, and we move on to other pleasures in our lives; we are not obsessed with eating.” I wanted to figure out what was going on in the minds of French women that could account for the way that many of them successfully navigate their body image and eating. We clearly could use some French Eating Lessons on this side of the Atlantic.

We all know physical appearance is just a part of who you are.  Clearly too much emphasis has been placed on appearance in today’s world. 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?  A competent athlete? Capable at your job? It is probably a combination of some of these things that make up how you define your whole person, your character and value.  

Let's try to think about our own body shape and size. This will take some focus because we often are not aware of most of our own deeply held thoughts about our bodies. Your task in addressing a negative body image is to become familiar with unhelpful thoughts about your body that you are  thinking deep down, so you can confront them. When they are left unattended, brewing below the surface of your mind, your thoughts can develop unmanaged as the years roll on.