Saturday, August 14, 2010

Women and Body Image

Why is it that women tend to have such poor body images? We are all guilty of it. My nose it too big. My breasts are too small. I need to lose 10 pounds.

Just today, I was talking to some other woman on Twitter - beautiful women, I might add. The conversation started because I changed my avatar picture. My twitter friends were telling me they liked my new picture and I was thanking them for the nice compliments. Then, when I complimented them back, the negative comments started. It always baffles me how gorgeous women sometimes have such poor self-images.

Thinking back to my college classes on women's issues, I started thinking about how society, particularly the advertising and entertainment fields, create such unrealistic ideals of beauty. Real women will never be able to live up to that standard. Why? Because that kind of perfection doesn't exist.

Models starve themselves. Their pictures are photo-shopped and air-brushed to make them look thinner and make their blemishes disappear. Not to mention the make-up that covers all imperfections.

Don't get me wrong, I love to look my best. I rarely leave the house without make-up on and I blow-dry and flat-iron my hair pretty much every day. I try to by form-flattering clothes that accentuates my best features. I like to get my eyebrows waxed, my nails done, and I have been known to get the occasional pedicure. Still I think the sexiest thing a woman can do is to be self- confident!


Flaunt what you've got!

As mothers, we need to be able to be a good role model for our daughters. (I have 2 boys, but I plan to have a girl someday soon... Different story...Infertility...Fingers crossed!) Anyways, when I have a daughter, one of the most important things I am going to teach her is how to love herself and how to be proud of her intelligence and have a positive self-image! In the mean time, I am teaching my boys how to respect women and how to be kind/chivalrous to little girls.

What are your thoughts on body image and how to be a good role model for young girls?

26 comments:

Cindy said...

You are beautiful!! :-) Thanks.

Busy Working Mama said...

I hope I can teach my daughter well. No matter how I look, I always, always wish I could lose 5 pounds :) Yeah, I have body image issues. But overall I am happy with myself, I eat well, exercise regularly and try to teach my daughter the same healthy habits.

I like the new picture, though! You are beautiful!

Lindsay Williams said...

Thank you both for the compliments. Aleksandra, you will do a great job teaching your daughter your same healthy habits!

Rene/ Not The Rockefellers said...

It all starts on the inside. Really. I could get all dressed up and feel good about the way that I look before I leave the house. But all it takes is to see someone else who is thinner, more beautiful, more put together and more confident than I, then I feel like a floor scrubber.
I am so much more than the way I look.
I need to remember that.
Love thyself.
That's what I need to do.

Rene

Lindsay Williams said...

Rene, I couldn't have put it better myself! It all starts with you. As women, we need to recognize how beautiful we are on the inside and out and pass it on to young girls who are learning about themselves. Let your beauty radiate from within! =)

Maija @ Maija's Mommy Moments said...

I have 2 daughters and no matter how much I don't like my hair, weight, clothes or my bra size I am VERY careful not to say anything in front of them. My husband also never misses an opportunity to tell me I'm beautiful especially in front of our children.

Great post Lindsay and I wish you all the luck in the world with having a daughter.

Lindsey Muth said...

Hi, Lindsay! I couldn't agree more that confidence shines through and is the single most attractive quality a woman can possess. Your blog post especially hit home for me in light of your infertility struggle. I feel so much empathy for you and your family as you try to conceive. We spent four years struggling with infertility before Otto was conceived on our 3rd IUI attempt. Infertility alone is enough to kill a woman's confidence; it just knocks you so far down with sadness, frustration, and self-doubt. On top of that the drugs and lifestyle, at least for me, caused me to gain about fifteen pounds and that was just another thing to feel crappy about at a time when I was feeling crappy about everything. But it also put self-image into the right perspective, which was that I didn't care if I was thin, or toned, or had perfect skin, because I was putting all my energy into the one goal of having a baby. Kudos to you for reminding us that "perfection" on a magazine page is nothing like "perfection" in real life - which is being a great parent, being a good person, being healthy, juggling all of that without making enemies (haha). Yay! And I'm sorry for rambling on, I'm just so glad you stopped by my blog & reminded me I hadn't been by yours in a while :) xoxo (and ps I love your new photo, you are gorgeous inside and out!)

Lucy said...

This is very timely. Today I found a book at a yard sale entitled, "The Beauty Myth." Although I'm only a few pages in, it's all about the issues you raise. Models starve themselves, magazines create unrealistic expectations, etc. I, too, always feel like I could lose at least 5 pounds (since I was a teen) and I do NOT want my daughter to grow up feeling the same way. I don't know what I can do besides teaching her healthy habits and plenty of self-love and self-respect. Looking forward to seeing other responses. I love that you are teaching your boys to be chivalrous. It's up the moms to raise good men!

P.S. I'm also a stepmom! Thrilled I found your blog. Always looking for fellow stepmoms and wisdom on being a good stepmom.

Lesa said...

I am in the process of losing weight, and most of the time my confidence has been ok. However, I had the rare and wonderful opportunity to be on tv for my business, and instead of enjoying it afterwards, I kept picking on myself mentally because my face looked really bloated and I looked much bigger than I am. When my husband tried to comfort me, I actually told him that he had to say stuff like that because he is my husband. I want to have a better grasp on this because my daughter sees beauty in everyone, and I want her to stay that way and not be so critical like I am.

Kisha said...

I have pretty big weight/eating issues. However, I don't make that known to my girls-all I let them see is that Mommy is working on being the healthiest she can be, and that I want them to be healthy and happy too. I am a firm believer that you can be "imperfect" but still love yourself-how are you going to teach your kids to love themselves if you can't model that for them?

DrSnarky said...

As a guy, I may be intruding here, but I am going to throw in a comment.

It sounds like a lot of women are super-critical of themselves, even with ENcouragement from the men in their life.

Let me focus on one thing - compliments. Ladies, when your man compliments how you look or what you are wearing, the last thing you should say is "you have to say that because you are my husband". No, it is not. The last thing he has to say is absolutely nothing.

If your man says you look fantastic, even if YOU do not think so, just give him a kiss or a hug and whisper "thanks". Accept it for what it is, since he probably thinks you do look great.

Lindsay Blogs said...

I'm already having to deal with my daughters' self-confidence issues and my oldest is only 3! The other day she tells me, "My hair looks funny! I don't look pretty anymore!" I was floored. How does a three year old even know the concept of being pretty or not? All I've ever told her is how beautiful she is and how God thinks she's absolutely perfect. Thanks for this post. You speak truth.

Lindsay Williams said...

Wow! When I wrote this post, I didn't realize what a huge commenting response I'd get! I've truly enjoyed reading all your commented & I agree with all of them. Ladies, believe in yourselves. Self confidence is the most attractive quality a woman can have! So glad to hear that you are teaching your daughters well.

Mama B said...

As a child I always had people compliment me on my appearance. That helped me build self esteem as I grew up. I also did pageants in my teen years and won more than a few. As an adult I have MANY things I want to change about myself, but the confidence I built as a child allows me to sport a bikini on a too large body and still feel good about it. I'm not saying that being pretty is everything, but when you are told so on a regular basis, it makes you feel good in a society that bases so much on looks. I want my daughters to know that attitude and behavior are more important than appearance, but I still make it a point to tell them how beautiful they are on a daily basis (as well as how smart they are!). I also pick out features on little girls I see in my salon, even if they may not be the 'standard' pretty- you can see on their face how it makes them feel when you say they have beautiful eyes, or a gorgeous smile. It is up to us to help build a healthy body image for the next generation of young women. I feel as though I may come off sounding superficial- I'm really not- my profession is just in the beauty industry, so I do focus on looks more than the average person.
Great post!

Sandi said...

It's a constant challenge! It's the one area of my life where the personal development, self confidence, etc. disappears and I can feel like a failure. The constant bombardment by the media makes it nearly impossible for any woman to feel great about her body and that has to change. When I hear it in young girls, it just feels so sad that they're dealing with this instead of enjoying childhood.

Lindsay Williams said...

Maija - Good for you. Raise your daughters to love themselves and their bodies. It's a difficult task this day in age, but if anyone can do it you can!

Lindsey - Thanks for your support about the infertility stuff. It is a constant struggle.

Lucy - Sounds like a great book! And always glad to meet another stepmom. Being a stepmother can be more difficult than being a mother!

Les - I've told my husband the same thing a time or two - I think that's pretty normal for women. You can do it! The important thing is to be healthy!

Kisha - Thanks for commenting. I've been reading about your weight loss struggle. You are working hard at it and I think you are being a great role model for your daughters.

Dr. Snarky - So true. As women we have such a hard time accepting compliments, even from our husbands. Thanks for making that point!

Lindsay - Case in point! She's 3 and already picking up on that stuff. As mothers we must instill confidence in our daughters by being good role models when it comes to body image! Thanks for the comment.

Bonnie - My mom is a beautician and I also did a couple pageants and a little modeling when I was younger, so I know where you are coming from. It's taken me a long time to love my body and I still struggle with it off and on. It's always been a struggle for me to stay motivated to exercise on a regular basis.

Sandi - I agree! Body image is one of the most difficult issues facing women today. This is because it is tied right into our self-esteem. We must accept our bodies in order to truly love ourselves.

House Husband said...

I am a fan of pigtailpals.com and their wonderful shirts that portrays all the possibilities out there. They also made we more aware of the marketing that is being done to our kids. As a father to a six year old daughter I have a responsibility to build that self esteem in her and educate her in marketing messages and out right fabrication that the fashion world and marketers in general use. Dove has a wonderful video showing a model from start through makeup, hair, photo shopping to billboard. I have it available on my blog.

EJ said...

I also notice as a guy that when I do pay a female a compliment, more often than not its not just a thank you but a "Thanks, but you're just saying that" or get the "I wish my (fill in the body part) was different."

If a guy makes the effort to say something, he means it.

Steph said...

Media images of girls and women can have a negative effect on how we view ourselves. Its unfortunate! Not only do these images have a negative impact on how girls see themselves, but also on how boys see - and therefore treat - girls!

Girl Scouts supports the Healthy Media for Youth Act, H.R. 4925, which is a bill currently in the U.S. House of Representatives that would encourage healthier media images of girls and women for the benefit of all youth.

Specifically, the bill sets up a competitive grant for media literacy programs for youth, facilitates research on the health effects of media images on youth, and creates a taskforce to establish voluntary standards for more girl-positive media.

Show your support for the Healthy Media for Youth Act and stand up for all of our youth! Visit www.girlscouts4girls.org and send a letter of support to your Member of Congress, urging her or him to cosponsor the bill!

From Tracie said...

I think it is important to note that our daughters will pick up on all those little self deprecating comments that we make. They will see those magazines and catalogs that we look at, they will hear us compare ourselves to the pictures....and one day they will become their mothers and engage in the same behaviors. We have to change this cycle.

A good practice is to think about what you say in response to a compliment. A great response? "It's true. Thank you" Hard to say, but when someone tells you that your hair is pretty...they are saying it because that is what they really believe. You should believe it too.

Not to be all commercially, but I just wrote and vlogged about this with my daughter last week. http://whereiwastoday.blogspot.com/2010/08/embracing-my-body.html It is time to embrace our bodies, our talents, and our gifts and go out there and conquer life! If you aren't willing to do it for yourself, do it for your daughters (even the ones that you will have in the future!)

Nancy Gruver said...

Lindsay and all the great commenters - this is a wonderful discussion! At 56 I still have body image issues but I work on retraining those thought patterns almost every day. My husband and I put the focus on the beauty of action and being yourself with our now-adult daughters who were often told by strangers that they were beautiful. We also got rid of all scales in our house before they were 5. Our culture bombards both girls and boys with harmful messages about the importance of appearance over virtually everything else and while parents try to counteract it, it's not surprising that the kids still get the message and get self-critical. I second the recommendation of pigtailpals.com and also suggest a look at my company - newmoon.com - we focus on on girls' creativity and support for each other. A great site for moms is http://www.thebodyimagerevolution.com - a series of talks about body image you can buy as download & there will be a new series in October I think.

21st Century Mummy said...

I have a real problem with self-confidence, I always have done. I'm super critical of myself. Everyone tells me I'm ridiculous, but I never quite believe it. My main aim in life is to make sure my daughter loves herself and has a positive self-image, exactly as you plan to do with yours.
@mummytweets

Jax said...

I cannot tell you how much I love this!! I have been telling people for years that I see myself as a classic 1967 Mustang: great to look at but a bitch to upkeep. They always stare at me strange and say things like "I'm an Edsol" Own it woman!! I love yourself!!

Great article!!

Jacqui "Jax" Jacoby
www.JacquiJacoby.com
Twitter: JaxJacoby
http://jaxsmovielist.blogspot.com

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Pregnancy Books said...

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