According to the Better Health website by the Victorian Government, "Body image issues affect people of all ages, genders and across all cultures. Recent research suggests that 80% of Australian women are dissatisfied with their bodies to some degree." I had a poor body image as a teenager and ended up with an eating disorder in my early twenties. I was under the false impression that thin people are happy. When I eventually lost weight, I was far from happy. I wish I had learned to accept my body and been kind to it by eating well and exercising moderately. You are more than a body - you also have a beautiful heart and mind.
Summer is on the way and we are constantly being reminded in the media to be 'beach body ready.' Girls and women across the country are restricting their calorie intake, and dashing to gyms and beauty salons to get their bodies ready for summer. Here is a newsflash - those girls in the swimsuit ads have been styled by a team of professionals and airbrushed to within an inch of their lives. What you see is not real. Real women have scars and birthmarks, stretch marks and cellulite, pimples and wrinkles. Don't wait to get the perfect beach body before you go to the beach - just go to the beach. Ashley Lytwyn, an eating disorder specialist said, "If you want to lose some fat, build muscle, and eat cleaner, that's great, but it's not a requirement for enjoying the warm weather and the waves."
Note, this song contains a sexual reference but it also has some great messages.
I have a pretty healthy body image but I’ve never been a big fan of my legs. They’re kind of chunky compared to the rest of my body with purple veins laced over them like streets on a road map. But these legs have carried me around California where I have explored Disneyland and Universal Studios. They have skied down mountains, trekked through the ancient temples of Cambodia, wandered the streets of Penang, climbed the gorges of Karijini and strolled along the golden sands of Cable Beach. So I’m very grateful for these legs.
Challenge: Do you have a body part that you love to hate? Write a list of things it helps you do and reasons to be thankful for it?
Summer is almost here and for some of you the thought of putting on a pair of bathers is enough to bring you out in a cold sweat. Lindsay Kite from Beauty Redefined tackled the issue of body image disruption in her recent TED Talk. Body image disruption can be sparked by a painful experience that magnifies body shame, such as trying on bathers. Women and girls respond to this by taking one of three paths:
Taryn Brumfitt has some great ideas on how to embrace your body. It was written for Valentine's Day but it's important all year round. I love these ones in particular:
I finally got around to watching the Embrace documentary on body acceptance by Taryn Brumfitt. It's rated M so you probably want to watch it with your Mum if you're under 15. Watch it with your sister or get some friends together - but just watch it. I wish I had watched it when I was a teenager. It is a bit confronting in places and nothing is out of bounds, but her message is liberating and so important in a society where we are body shamed if we don't fit the perfect body shape (and seriously, who does?). The DVD is available at JB Hi-Fi, Sanity, Big W and online at iTunes. My local library has a copy for loan as well.
This Fotoshop ad pokes fun at the beauty industry by saying that you don't need the latest miracle cream - you just need to retouch your photos. It's a timely reminder that many of the images we see on Instagram, magazines and advertisements aren't real.
I love this mantra from Beauty Redefined. They suggest focussing on how you feel and what your body can do rather than what it looks like.