I can’t actually place the exact afternoon in time-space, but I was going through old photographs and saw ones of me in my earlier days. In my 30’s, 40’s, and early 50’s. I expected to see the same unattractive, awkward, unshapely woman I had always seen when I looked in the mirror.
I couldn’t believe my eyes! Actually, I had been beautiful. Not Cover Girl beautiful, but no one else is either. Quite attractive though. If I had only seen myself then as I actually was, what a difference it would have made in both my personal life and my work life! The song above still makes me cry every time I hear it.
“Female dissatisfaction with appearance – poor body image – begins at a very early age. Human infants begin to recognize themselves in mirrors at about two years old. Female humans begin to dislike what they see only a few years later.” Social Issues Research Center
Studies show I was not alone in my distorted body image. In study after study, between 80 and up to 97% of women hate what they see in the mirror and criticize themselves for being too fat, too skinny, too full-breasted, too small-breasted, nose too big or too small or too straight or too hooked, tummy too fat (even rail-thin anorexics say that), hips too wide or too skinny, eyes too small, lips too thin or too full, face too round or too square…and on and on. What’s more, increasingly more and more MEN feel the same way about their bodies.
We all think we are unattractive “ in comparison to others,” that is in comparison to some inner ideal we hold of what beautiful should look like. Then our own personal inner bully calls us ugly names we would never accept from anyone else and we slink out the door to meet imagined inner slurs from everyone we meet as we compare ourselves physically to everyone else walking down the street.
Now, it’s most excellent to want to be healthy and fit and live a long time, but this obsession to meet some unattainable inner ideal of beauty eats away at our self-esteem and destroys lives.
Did you know some size 0 models eat tissue paper when they can’t stand being hungry, or live in hospitals on IV drips to keep their jobs?
“It’s getting very serious,” (a leading agent for models) said. She lowered her tone and glanced around to see if anyone at the nearby tables could hear. ‘The top casting directors are demanding that they be thinner and thinner. I’ve got four girls in hospital. And a couple of the others have resorted to eating tissues. Apparently they swell up and fill your stomach.’” Former Vogue editor: The truth about size zero
Who would do that to themselves for a JOB?
Here’s the real secret as to why we are attractive or not. It isn’t our features or our body shape. It’s our own confidence and belief about how attractive we are! Really! Just as soon as we believe that we are attractive the whole world will reflect that belief back. Your confidence shines forth in the way you carry yourself – in how you walk, the way you dance, the way you look at other people, the clothing you wear.
Some people did an experiment where they asked some men to wear a deodorant that supposedly had pheromones that attracted women, and others were not given such an option. They photographed both groups of men, and wouldn’t you know that, even though the photographs smelled the same, the women viewing the photos rated the men with the “special” deodorant as more attractive? This could only be because the men FELT more attractive, and thus looked the part.
So, if you knew for sure you were beautiful, would you give up drab brown and navy for bright pink with flowers? How would you use your eyes? How would you walk? How would you fix your hair? What would you wear? Try some of them.
Let’s look at Oprah Winfrey for a moment, because we all know her. Just Google her images and you’ll find hundreds. We have watched her struggle with her weight over her public lifetime, sometimes heavier, sometimes lighter, NEVER a size 2 – and yet, always beautiful.
You see some of us are roses, some are lilies, some are daisies, and some are orchids. Some have vibrant color, some are pale, some grow tall, some much closer to the ground. They are each beautiful. Fortunately flowers aren’t self-conscious, or the gladiola would destroy it’s beauty cutting and bleaching herself to have bright white petals like a daisy and the daisy would twist herself out of shape trying to be a rose.
We should be concerned about our health and self-discipline is a great quality, but our choices around diet and exercise should be because we love ourselves, not because we hate ourselves.
Let us want to be healthy so we can enjoy our bodies, have energy to be productive at work and relaxed at home, take pleasure in time with our family and friends. And let us work to be happy with the beautiful body we have been given, walk proudly and confidently whether we are pansies or buttercups or iris.