If you only read this one sentence, you’ll walk away with the one thing you need to know.
You are beautiful.
While you may want to change things about yourself, you should know that you are naturally beautiful from the tips of your toes to the top of your head, and throughout your heart and soul.
Poor body image is not age specific and starts younger than you might imagine. Consider these statistics from Parenting magazine:
- 42 percent of kids in first through third grades wish they were thinner.
- 81 percent of 10-year-olds are afraid of becoming fat.
- 51 percent of 9- and 10-year-old girls say they feel better about themselves when they are on a diet.
This weekend I attended a modern dance performance called Justice for Some. Throughout the performance, issues such as gay teen suicide, body rights, bullying, marriage rights and the right to vote were highlighted through dance, architecture, video, and music composition. There was also a large focus on body image.
They shared the horrifying statistic that 42% of kids in first through third grades wish they were thinner. I was shocked that a child that young would care about weight, until I remembered weighing myself when I was 9 and 10 and writing it the magic number in my diary. I wasn’t overweight, but I wanted to be thinner.
Why was I thinking about how much I weighed when I was 9 years old, and why haven’t I ever stopped thinking about it? I consider myself to be well adjusted and health focused, but that number on the scale has always been important. I know it’s important for many of you too. Then again, how can it not be when every magazine headline we read says things like….
- “Flat Tummy Tips” – 17 magazine
- “I Lost 107 lbs. for Good” – Allure magazine
- “Your Fastest Way to Lose Weight” – Glamour magazine
Weight loss tips are on every cover of every beauty, fashion and health magazine along with other helpful recommendations about how to make your eyes look bigger, butt look smaller, and what shoes to wear to make your legs look longer. You don’t even have to read magazines to be bombarded with these messages that scream at you when you checkout at the grocery store. Why do we continue to be slaves to media manipulation?
What could we do with the time and energy we spend hating our thighs? What could we do with the money we spend trying to look younger and thinner? What could we do with the attention we give to our mirrors?
One thing I’ve learned from fashion Project 333, in wearing only 33 items for 3 months, is that no one notices or cares if I wear the same dress more than once a week and the same few pairs of shoes over and over again. No one notices if I forget mascara, or wear a different color lipstick.
If you’ve ever tried on more than one outfit, analyzing different angles in the mirror, trying to decide if you fit the part, you know that kind of self absorbed behavior is not healthy. Natural, maybe. Healthy, no.
Why do we compare ourselves to other people we see every day and even worse to fake magazine cover bodies?
My daughter is a dancer, and I wonder if body issues are magnified for her and other teen dancers. She tells me her dance teacher tells her students they are beautiful, almost every day. Some parents are cautious about telling their children they are beautiful because they don’t want to put too much importance on looks. I disagree wholeheartedly. Tell your children they are beautiful every day, and let them know what beauty really is.
Karen Walrond, a beautiful mother, writer and photographer wrote The Beauty of Different. This book and her blog is a perfect demonstration that beauty is in everything and everyone. Karen reminds us that Beauty is in the different.
Cyclists and other athletes admit to using performance enhancing drugs, often not to be the best version of themselves, but to keep up with the other drugged athletes. When we synthetically change ourselves, we change the whole playing field. It makes me wonder how we will we keep up with our Botoxed, liposucked, lifted society? Measuring up, in terms of size and looks is exhausting. 40 is not the new 20 and 50 is not the new 30.
To alleviate body image issues in children, teens, and men & women of all ages…
- Notice the beauty in everyone you meet.
- Tell your children they are beautiful.
- Stop asking if you look fat in that.
- Find the beauty in different.
- Reflect on something more important than the image in the mirror.
- Do something beautiful for someone else.
- Create beautiful art to be a beautiful artist.
- Treat your partner beautifully to become a beautiful partner.
- Stop comparing.
- Stop believing that the answer is on a magazine cover.
- Know that nothing you buy will make you feel beautiful for very long.
No outfit, haircut or new pair of heels has ever made me feel as beautiful as I do when I am giving, creating, collaborating and connecting with other beautiful people.
When you recognize that you are paying a little too much attention to how you look, think about how you can give some of your beauty to the world. When you give your beauty away, you only get more beautiful.