A few days ago on good old Facebook, the top 2 trending stories were Jessica Simpson in a bikini and Gwyneth Paltrow in a bikini. Sometimes a single palm to forehead just doesn’t cut it…
And although I did several of these, I have to admit, I was super tempted to click on the link to see the paparazzi pictures.
The second I saw those two stories in the right side column of my Facebook newsfeed my curiosity heightened and I instantly had an overwhelming urge to click and take a peek. Very similar to the urge I get when I catch a glimpse of a tabloid magazine’s celebrity-body-shocker headline in the checkout aisle at the super market or notice a copy of In Touch magazine innocently sitting on the table next to me at my doctor’s office. Why yes, I would love to check out the top 10 celebrity beach bodies of the year!
As much work as I’ve done on my own body image and eating disorder recovery, I still get the urge to look, analyze, compare and ultimately judge (myself) from time to time. And as much as I wish more would be done by the publishing companies that are responsible for selling this instant helping of negative body image, I know that ultimately it’s my own decision to look or not to look.
When I do give into the urge to look, I’m never happy with my end result.
First I look at the photo and instantly begin to analyze the body; completely objectifying the shape and size of the woman. Next comes the fun of comparison. “Her thighs are so much smaller than mine. Her waist is so perfect! Mine will never get that small.” And finally the self-judgment and ultimately self shaming kicks in (the best part of all). “I’m so fat. I’m so gross. I will never look like that and I know I would be so much happier with myself if I did.”
Like I said, not a happy ending. May be you can relate?
And when I don’t give into my urge, the nagging feeling of curiosity might still linger in my mind for a few minutes, but eventually I forget and move on (usually with help from my 3-year-old son). No body shaming and no self-loathing.
This took a lot of diligent practice, awareness and yes, yoga.
The truth is, we always have a choice. The problem is that most of the time we automatically look without even comprehending the insidious messages we’re absorbing (and eventually telling ourselves) from what we’re observing. It is a knee-jerk reaction that ends up biting us in the ass.
Earlier this month, Women’s Health magazine announced that they will no longer be using the words “Bikini Body” and “drop 2 sizes”, and although this is a step in the right direction, it’s a miniscule drop in an overwhelmingly larger issue of how women are displayed in the media and portrayed in marketing.
I do believe that Women’s Health magazine definitely made a positive move. In fact, I must admit I was surprised to even hear it was a reality. But if we’re really going for a change, the focus also needs to be on the images themselves, not just the words.
A picture paints a thousand words and Woman’s Health got rid of 5…
So until that blissful (and most likely very distant) day arrives when we no longer have photos of celebrities looking flawless and carefree while prancing on the white sands of some tropical island, the best weapon we have is our power of choice.
So did I give into the urge to take a peek and ultimately end up in a body hatred carnival? I’m happy to say I did not. Years and years of repeating the same self imposed torture has finally sunk in and I know now it’s better just to move along.
If you’re one of the lucky few that are unaffected by such pictures, I bow down to you and envy your mind’s genetic make up. However, if you happen to fall into the same body-shaming downward spiral I mentioned above, I feel you.
But I also write this today to remind you that you are far from powerless.