Tag Archive: Eating Disorders



Why ‘Love Your Body’ Campaigns Aren’t Working

Posted: 07/18/2013 10:38 am                                                                                      
 
Body Image, Eating Disorders, Lena Dunham, Dieting, Eating Disorder, Ideal Body Weight, Love Your Body Campaigns, Self-Acceptance, Self-Love, Women And Self-Confidence, Women And Self-Esteem,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Women News                                

                    

Real Beauty

 

Like an unfortunately large percentage of women in the U.S., I grew up criticizing my body and dieting regularly from a young age. I spent years of my life terrified I would never get “there,” the place where my weight and all perceived rewards of thinness would finally fall into place. Getting thin was the only answer I could think of to most of my problems, and conversely, “being fat” or gaining weight, meant “losing–” it meant never achieving, never being loved, never “having it all.”

I remember seeing body-positive campaigns like Dove’s Real Beauty or Victoria Secret’s Love Your Body — campaigns that encourage women to “love the skin they’re in” — and thinking “that’s nice, but I still wish I was thinner.”

I would see images of “real women” and think to myself, I don’t want to be one. I wanted to get ahead, stand out, be special, and I didn’t see how accepting my body the way it was would get me “there” — the place where my life would begin. I believed my dreams were 20 lbs. away from me, and what seemed like a forced, new ideal of beauty on a billboard didn’t seem to change that.

Eventually my relationship with my body did start to change… when I finally realized I can get the guy, the job, the cute clothes in the window right now, regardless of my weight. Women with “non-traditional body types” are not disabled from creating what they want in the world, we’re just taught that they are.

I learned by working with countless women around body image that helping women “unlearn” the rewards and punishments they experienced around weight as children or were made to fear by the mainstream media (which, by the way, doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon) is more powerful than simply telling someone “your body is beautiful the way it is.” While changing the figures and images in the media is an important and wonderful first step (particularly for building new beliefs in younger generations), it may fall on deaf ears amongst those who have already been brainwashed that “thin” is where life happens.

One could argue that’s why Lena Dunham is so successful — she’s not just saying “beauty at any size;” she’s saying “you can have it all at any size.” After all, our insecurity is not just about our bodies at its core — it’s about creating and feeling deserving of the life we want to live.

If we don’t actively dismantle the myths that have been embedded into women’s psyche around weight historically, those myths will linger, regardless of how many plus-sized models they see on billboards (again, important first step, but not necessarily the “answer” for women suffering from body hatred now).

In reality, women want to experience, they want to feel, they want to be… far more than they want to look. Unfortunately, we’ve been taught that looking a certain way is a prerequisite for “achieving” throughout the rest of our lives. If body-positive messages were effectively combating that myth, women’s beliefs systems about weight would be shaken at its roots, rather than its petals.

In other words, instead of simply shifting the global paradigm of beauty, we need to start exploring why those paradigms are meaningful to begin with, and challenge the validity of those beliefs.

What are YOU making “fat” mean?

Are you making fat mean that you’ll never find a suitable partner?

That you’re unworthy of the respect of your peers?

That you’ll never “make it” professionally?

That no one will take you seriously?

CHALLENGE THAT.

If we don’t address those underlying fears, few women will gain the confidence needed to say “F YOU” to a body paradigm that doesn’t serve them. Women need to believe that their body shape does not dictate their success in relationships, their success in the workplace, their social mobility, etc.

When our belief systems around weight change — that is, when we challenge the “meaning” we give to weight or body shape — our bodies naturally become our allies in achievement, rather than an obstacle to overcome.

For more information on overcoming negative body image or emotional behaviors around food, visit www.isabelfoxenduke.com and download “How To Not Eat Chocolate Cake… Really Fast, Standing Up, When Nobody’s Looking.”

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Why Self Esteem? Experts appear to agree that a healthy sense os self worth and value helps contribute to better health, physically and emotionally, improves cognitive function, and general performance, while a lack of self esteem, or low self-worth, or even self-hatred, contribute to a host of problem areas, including:

Depression
Stress & Anxiety
Entering into abusive or unhealthy relationships
Alcohol Abuse
Eating Disorders & Unhealthy Dieting
Poor communication
Hostility
Low performance & achievement
Dependency
Withdrawal, Isolation & Loneliness
Preoccupation with Problems.

It’s amazing how the way we view ourselves can affect so many areas of our life. It also amazes me how many of us struggle with being our own worst internal critic, sabotaging ourselves by believing messages that simply aren’t true of ourselves, and judging ourselves harshly and over-critically, rather than showing ourselves compassion.

Kristin Neff, author of the book, “Self Compassion”, suggests that when wrongdoers are treated with compassion rather than harsh condemnation, cycles of conflict and suffering can be broken!” She also openly claims that “if we were perfect, we wouldn’t be human; we’d be Barbie & Ken.” acknowledging the weakness and imperfections of our humanity. She sites Jesus as an example when he said “Let him without sin cast the first stone’, and later, as he hung dying on the cross, he said, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ The message was clear: we need to have understanding and compassion for even the worst wrongdoers, ourselves included.”

Why are we such harsh critics of our weaknesses, failings and mistakes? Doing so only leads to greater depression, self hatred, addictions, and further self sabotage and pain. When we grow up in a less than thriving environment, it is as if our brains are hard wired to be drawn to repeat those same patterns throughout life. Abused, we either become abusive or look for abusive relationships, subconsciously, as an example. While this is not always the case, as there are exceptions, generally if we grew up with a lack of nurture, sense of safety, role reversal relationships, abuse, excessive alcohol use, we grow up in an environment that lacks the proper breeding ground for our brains to function with a positive self image. See my previous articles on brain re-training to understand how our brains work and the information they take in, and how they are able to re-wire previous negative circuitry of the brain to involve higher brain functioning to overcome the negative patterns of thinking that decrease our sense of self worth. While this is a fascinating subject to me, and I will likely blog more on this topic in coming months, I do not want to get too far of track by getting too technical in this blog!

Here’s a little self esteem checkup taken from the book, “The Self Esteem Workbook”, which I highly recommend you to read if you struggle at all with self esteem.

Rate from 0-10 how much you believe the following statements. This will give you an idea of where you are currently in you sense of self esteem.

1. I am a worthwhile person.
2. I am as valuable as a person as anyone else.
3. I have the qualities I need to live well.
4. When I look into my eyes in the mirror I have a pleasant feeling.
5. I don’t feel like an overall failure.
6. I can laugh at myself.
7. I am happy to be me.
8. I like myself, even when others reject me.
9. I love and support myself, regardless of what happens.
10. I am generally satisfied with the way I am developing as a person.
11. I respect myself.
12. I’d rather be me than anyone else.

Next rate yourself from 0-100 on a scale from total lack of self esteem, to total fullness of self esteem.

Where does you gut tell you you fit on that scale? Now ask yourself why that is. See what answers come to the surface. This is the beginning of paying attention to what your core needs are.

For the next month, I will be spending every Friday blogging about self image and self worth.

Today is simply an intro on how to build self esteem.

I will leave you today with a definition of what self esteem is, and the foundations of building self esteem. Next Friday we will delve a little deeper.

What is Self Esteem?

“Self Esteem is a realistic, appreciative liking of oneself. Realistic means accurate and honest. Appreciative implies positive feelings and liking.” – The Self Esteem Workbook

Self Esteem involves self confidence. A belief in one’s abilities. It involves accepting yourself, having compassion for yourself, looking at yourself as neither less than or greater than others, with proper humility and awareness that all of humanity involves weakness and imperfections, with grace for both ourselves and others mistakes.

The Foundation of self esteem involves three things; like building blocks, these three attributes build self esteem:

1. Unconditional Worth.
2. Love
3. Growing

These three building blocks help build a proper, healthy working sense of self esteem.

Stay tuned. Over the next few weeks I hope to equip you with some solid tools to get your sense of self worth out of the gutter, and moving in a more positive direction! It IS possible to retrain our brains, it’s just like physical exercise, it takes work to examine what we are thinking, and consciously taking an effort to think more positively of ourselves. Visualize yourself in the ideal situation, that your needs are met, that you are happy and fulfilled… Apparently, according to research, simple exercises like this DO help. Even if you don’t believe it, spending a few minutes thinking like this, empowers our brain to feel happier, in just the same way that smiling, even if forced, “activates significant areas of the brain – good mental therapy. So at least once in a while, force yourself to laugh or smile, even if you…are smiling through your tears… Get your facial muscles moving!” – Susan Anderson, Taming the Outer Child, A revolutionary program to overcome self-defeating patterns. (Also another highly recommended read!)

That’s it for today, so go ahead… Smile. Even if it’s forced, it triggers neurons in your brain that help the process of retraining our brains to live a healthier lifestyle, and move up the ladder of self esteem.

I will leave you with one last piece of food for thought… To get you thinking about your needs and how to show self compassion to those needs. Take a look at the photo below from Maslov’s hierarchy of needs:

Have a great day!

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