The Body Image Battle

Good morning and Happy Friday my friends!

I hope that you have all had a great week. What week are we on of the pandemic now? Is it week 563? I'm sure it must be at least that, if not more.

I wanted to take a minute to chat about a topic that has always spoken to me: self-esteem.

By definition, Self-Esteem is "confidence in one's own worth or abilities; self-respect" (Oxford Languages, 2020).

Let's break it down into keywords: confidence, worth, self-respect.

These are three perfectly simple concepts, yet so many of us genuinely struggle with them, myself included. Why is that?

I'm not a trained therapist and I don't have all the textbook answers. However, as a woman who has gone through life double-checking her appearance in the mirror and being afraid to go swimming because I thought my body wasn't suitable for a bathing suit, I can speak on this issue.

Time and time again, we point at the media. We look at magazines, TV shows, and movies and we see beautiful women. They are a certain size, with a certain type of hair, and any women who look different than these portrayals might feel inferior.

Sure, we can stake blame to the media . . . but are we to blame too?

Absolutely. Our negative self-talk, in my opinion, is an even bigger contributing factor to the spread of low self-esteem than media. Media is undoubtedly a culprit. But, even people who are not big into reading magazines or watching shows are privy to how they are "supposed to look". This isn't a media problem; this is a societal problem.

Media is simply one piece of the puzzle, but if you have noticed, things are getting better. Various shapes, sizes, and colors of women are being hired to model clothes, bathing suits, and makeup. Actresses from all backgrounds are making their debuts on screens, both big and small. It's a wonderful, welcome change, though it is always a work in progress.

A huge problem stems from how we treat ourselves. How come it is so easy to give a compliment to a friend, but when they give us a compliment, we sluff it off and become embarrassed.

"Hey, I love your new haircut! It really suits you".

"Oh, this? I just quickly got it done. I needed a change. It doesn't look like Kim K's hair, but it'll do".

Instead of accepting a compliment from a kind person, and simply saying "thank you", we oftentimes try to minimize it, as if we are not worthy of such a thing.

The change begins with us. We need to be the first ones to demand respect, not only from others but from ourselves. If we can love ourselves and realize our worth, then seeing beautiful women on TV won't make us say "ugh, she's so friggen skinny and her skin is too perfect", spreading body hatred to someone we don't even know. When we are given the gift of a sincere compliment, we will beam with pride, rather than become embarrassed that somebody acknowledged us. Be confident instead of jealous. Be loving instead of resentful. Practice gratitude for yourself every day. You have been graciously given one body to use on Earth, to respect, and to nourish.

We need to teach our daughters.

I have a daughter. Never in a million years do I want her to look in the mirror and compare herself to someone on TV. I also don't ever want her to feel like she needs to see a certain number on the scale before she considers herself to be beautiful, or that she needs to wear makeup because she isn't pretty enough. It would honestly break my heart.

We are not born hating ourselves; this is learned. When my little girl sees me putting on makeup, she always says, "Mommy, what's that". I always tell her that it's makeup and that I wear it sometimes because it's fun to put on. I NEVER tell her that I wear it to look prettier. When she is in the room, I am careful with how much I look in the mirror. I do my best to pick my clothes, put them on, and confidently say "I'm ready for the day". Of course, when she is not in the room I stand in front of my mirror and double-check everything. I'm only human. But this is something that I am working on, without a doubt. When she points to my faded stretch marks and says "Mommy, what are those", I tell her that they are lines that developed on my tummy after being fortunate enough to carry not one, but two babies. I tell her that I am so lucky to have those lines because it means that I have her. She smiles because she is so proud to be my baby. I truly pray that her generation of girls is the beginning of a new and positive change for self-love and self-esteem, and it is our responsibility as mothers to make sure this happens. Nobody will do this for us.

So wear makeup, but wear it because you enjoy it and it lifts your spirit. Don't wear it because you feel like you need to mask your appearance in order to be acceptable for the eyes of other people. Workout, but do it because it is good for your physical and mental health, not because others may judge you for having an extra roll of human skin that developed after birthing your children. Wear a bikini if you want, because who the hell cares? The people who do care what YOU look like in a bikini seriously need to find business of their own. Do whatever you'd like to do, whatever you feel needs to be done for you to be your best self. Please, please, please just make sure that it is in your highest good, and that it has nothing to do with seeking acceptance. The only acceptance you need is your own.

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