Are You Your Own Worst Enemy?

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When was the last time you thought something like:

  • I am not pretty enough because I weigh too much (when really you likely you are not as heavy as you think you are!).
  • I am just a complete failure, because I cannot stick to any diet.
  • Once I have lost that weight, everything will be better.
  • It’s not worth buying new jeans, until I have lost that weight.

I’d say there is a high likelihood that you regularly have thoughts alongside those lines. It’s not surprising that you have had and are having those thoughts. After all, the ideal body image driven by the media makes any ‘normal’ looking guy or gal look pretty shoddy, be it weight-wise (too fat or too thin – you cannot get it right anyway!) or beauty-wise (sometimes one actress is praised for going out of the house with no make up, at other times she is hounded over it!). One way or the other, the main focus is usually weight in those scenarios and is totally driven by the media. And let’s not forget…

“A culture fixated on female thinness is not an obsession about female beauty; it is an obsession about female obedience. {Weight stigma} is the most potent political sedative in women’s history; a quietly {shameful} population is a tractable one.” – Naomi Wolf

It’s an extremely strong statement and I don’t believe the whole hype has come about because there is an intentional plan by the men of this world to get such a culture going (particularly because we women amongst each other feed this culture a lot ourselves by our prejudices, etc.), but strangely now that this culture exists a lot of people make a lot of money of it, so why not keep it and feed it?! If you look in women’s weekly magazines you find on one page how to treat yourself to the newest beauty products (it appears that we are not naturally beautiful, we always have to enhance ourselves), on the following page what the newest crash diet is because there is always some more weight that needs loosing (oh, and if someone is skinny it’s because they have ‘good genes’ that women will not get complimented, but bitched about) and on yet another page it is negative self-talk about other womankind usually with unchanged pictures and arrows pointing at ‘problem zones’ (when all other pictures are diligently airbrushed to the n-th degree).

I don’t actually believe there was a conscious drive behind driving such a body image by anyone in particular, it is just something that sold initially and had quite an amazing side effect. Why? Maybe because it distracted us from our own problems. Maybe because it focused on someone else, not us. Maybe because it showed that we are not the only one, not having a perfect life even if it looked like it on the outside. The reason is not really that important, but what is important is that it lead to is a generation of disempowered women! Disempowered also, because we do not know anymore what is actually right for us. Sometimes people are being dissed for being too skinny, sometimes because they carry a bit of extra weight around. So skinny is not good enough, big is not good enough. Well, what IS good enough? Why is there such a huge pressure to look normal a day after giving birth (did you see all the press coverage about the Duchess of Cambridge – poor girl!)? Why is there such a huge pressure to be thin, when at the same time we are told to eat McDonalds to make us happy? Why do we judge someone else to be too thin in the same breath, when we don’t see that this person has just survived a life-threatening illness? We envy women who we feel can eat whatever they want. We bitch over women who make the effort to look after themselves.

Let’s face it, the worst thing about the media driving an unrealistic body image is that most of us jumped onto that band wagon at one point or the other. We readily judge others and how they look with no compassion for them or how they are, because it distracts us from our own problems and insecurities. It provides a wall behind which we can hide, because we know deep down in ourselves we are not enough, either. I know I did that for a long time. It’s time we changed this. It’s time we took our bodies back, our thoughts back and supported each other!

I know that it is still so ingrained in my brain that sometimes I register a bigger body just because it appears in my line of sight. Because somewhere deep in me, despite all my self-development work, there is still some conditioning that reacts to the trigger. Nowadays I recognize when it happens. Nowadays I recognize WHAT happens and I consciously choose to react differently compared to before. Nowadays I look up and see so much beauty in all types of bodies, fat or thin, perfect or non-perfect, tussled or not, made up or not… Before seeing people that did not fit the norm and did not dress according to the latest fashion it helped me feel superior because I myself got plenty of compliments from others about how pretty and sporty I am, because I ticked all the ideals of an intelligent girl for society! Yeah, external valuation works a charm. Every single time! It has a downside, though… you guessed it – it can also disempower us!

It’s about time we let it go. It’s about time we started honouring and respecting each other. It’s about time we acknowledge that we are only human and embrace our womanhood. It’s about time we started being NICE to and SUPPORTIVE of each other. So, I want you to take a moment to embrace yourself and acknowledge what an amazing woman you are because you light up someone’s day as their mother, as their daughter, as their nan, as their nurturer, as their friend, as their support every SINGLE day! Make it a daily ritual to take a moment and think what is so amazing about you. Stop the negative self talk. And now go out, treat yourself to a nice cup of coffee or a bunch of flowers and compliment three women along the way! You have got this. We have got this!

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