I just finished watching “America The Beautiful”, a documentary about America’s obsession with outer beauty. There wasn’t much that surprised me. I already knew things were bad. But it did inspire me to write.
I’ve written before about the myth of beauty, and the dysfunction of unrealistic beauty (photoshop-ing, airbrushing etc.). I think this time I really just want to talk about how we can change it within our own lives. I always considered myself to have a healthy self-esteem. But when I read a book recently called “God Loves Ugly, & love makes beautiful”* written by my friend Christa Black, I realized that I still have a lot of negative self-talk and negative energy surrounding the topic of my body. And now after having four children, it’s on my mind even more when I see my stretch marks and the scars of going through those pregnancies. So if I, who considered myself to pretty much like my body just fine, realized how much I still struggle….it got me thinking about those out there who have extremely low self-esteem, or worse, self-hatred.
Don’t get me wrong ladies. I know we all want to be beautiful. We like our fake nails, our colored hair, our MAC makeup, or a nice tan every now and then. Some of us have a few pounds we want to lose or 100 pounds we want to lose. Some of us have some cosmetic surgery we hope to get or some work with the orthodontist or the dermatologist. I understand that we all enjoy enhancing ourselves. And I’m not against any of those desires if they stem from a healthy place of “I love myself.”
What frustrates me so much about our culture is that the definition of beauty is so narrow and so unrealistic that it causes many women to have self-destructive behaviors. Listen to this short excerpt summarized by me from the documentary mentioned earlier: Prior to 1995 the country of Figi had not been exposed to television. Their body image was opposite of ours here in America. To have a larger body, and to have some significant size was a symbol of prosperity. It meant that your tribe was able to feed you well. Before exposing them to television, the young women of Figi were interviewed to find out how many of them had used vomiting as a form of controlling their weight, and none of them had admitted to such behavior. In 1998 after 3 years of exposure to television, that number rose from 0 to 11%. 11% is comparable to any high school here in America….shocking.
Also in the documentary, 3 minutes of looking at a fashion magazine makes 70% of women of all ages feel depressed, guilty and shameful. I can attest to that! Thankfully I have never purchased subscriptions to these magazines and therefore paid them money to make me feel depressed!
I think we’ve been fed lies for such a long time that we don’t know the truth anymore. One answer I propose for this problem is to promise something every week. The challenge is to choose something that bothers you, and vow to change your mind until your negative emotions change to positive emotions. So, here is my promise this week; “I promise from here on out, whenever I look at my stretch marks, to think fondly of each one of my children and a special memory I have of their birth.” (and nothing else, no negative thoughts!!!!) I’m going to practice thinking those thoughts until it becomes as natural as breathing. I hope you join me!! I would love to hear your promise in the comment section of this blog!
*I highly recommend this heartfelt book by my friend. Check out the reviews on amazon.com and order it, you won’t be disappointed!