The Biggest (and most over looked) Way to Improve Body Image
The other morning I was watching the morning news and wanted to slap my hand against my forehead. The 6AM news led their broadcast by what apparently was more important than any health, political or national security issue. The story was on Rene Zellweger and her publically deemed “bad” plastic surgery. Yes, that was the most important thing the general public needed to be aware of that morning. And of course it was all over Facebook with way too many people weighing in on the issue with their posts and comments. The comments ranged from if they thought she looked good, if they thought she looked bad, trying to guess what procedure she had done, and even people saying how stupid this is because she is such an out of work actress. Seriously - ENOUGH ALREADY!
Ok, Ok… I’m calming down… Deep breath…
There are certain times when I'm embarrassed to be a part of modern society and this week definitely qualifies as one of those times.
This entitled attitude on sharing opinions regarding other people’s appearance is downright exhausting. It is everywhere from social media, to magazine covers, to the morning news and even within my own family; what other people look like is a fixation that carries such immense importance. It is down right depressing and destructive. But we all participate in this name-calling game. Yes, even me.
A few years ago when I was working at Equinox I was really put off by a coworker, I mean REALLY put off. I did not like this girl and it all started because I didn’t like the way she looked. This was obviously not one of my prouder moments. Physically, she was everything I was not nor would I ever be because it ain’t in my gene pool.
The more and more critical I became about her appearance, the worse and worse I felt about myself. You know what I am talking about.
Yes, I was jealous but what was even more harmful was the inner dialogue that was attacking her was also attacking me right back. It wasn’t until years later that I finally realized that the more and more I would criticize this girl’s appearance or anyone’s appearance for that matter, the more and more my inner critic would attack me. You see, when we fire off negative comments (verbal or nonverbal) toward others they inevitably come back to us and slowly but surely our self-perception becomes more and more negative. This circular repercussion of negativity becomes a vicious cycle unless we consciously and mindfully put a stop to it.
So how do you stop it?
After the birth of my son I made a conscious decision to stop commenting on other people’s appearance. I did this not only because I didn’t want him to grow up and do the same thing but I also knew it would be good for my well being and peace of mind. My goal was to stop giving both positive and negative comments on appearance. Why both? Because regardless of the comment being positive or negative, any comment referring to how a person looks would still give power and importance to their appearance.
Did you know that 80% of 10 year olds are more afraid of being fat than anything else? yeah, kind of sad, huh? If we ultimately want to live in a world where statistics like this don’t exist then we need to change the conversation and take power away from appearance.
I’m still working on abstaining from appearance comments. I don’t always succeed, but I make a big effort. So my question for you is this, on days when your body image is neck deep in negativity, check in with yourself. How often do you make comments (positive or negative) on other people’s appearance? Make a goal to limit or even eliminate these types of comments from your daily conversations. The biggest way to feel good about you is to first make someone else feel good about themselves.