June 28, 2012

Tough Topic: Body Image

As a woman who has struggled with body image since age 5, this subject is a little difficult for me to write about.  This is not a topic that I like or enjoy discussing, but I feel like it needs to be done in hopes of maybe helping others.

I remember the first time I was told that I was fat.  I was 5 years old.  It was absolutely devastating, and there hasn't been a moment since then that I haven't thought about it.  In 1970, the average age that a woman started a diet was 14.  In 1990, it was 8, and in 2009, the average age girls began to worry about being fat was between 3 and 6.  (I guess I was a little before my time.)

Me at age 5

Y'all! Those numbers are STAGGERING.  There are three year olds out there who worry about getting fat!  How have we let it get this far, and how do we ever expect our children and grandchildren to make it in this world if they're thinking like that?  Now don't get me wrong, I definitely think we, as women, should be conscious of our health so we can live long and enjoy life, but there is a very fine line. 

 Did you know that the average size woman is 162.9 pounds and a size 14?  The average fashion model, however, weighs 23% less than the average woman.  This is up from 8% 20 years ago.  10 years ago, plus size models averaged between size 12 and 18.  Today, the majority of plus sized models on agency boards are between a size 6 and 14.

This is what we, as women, are staring at day in and day out in magazines, advertisements, and media.  It's all around us.  No wonder women's views of themselves are HORRIBLE.  How do we fix this?  Where do we go from here?  How do I keep my children from worrying about being fat every day of their lives, like I have?  We have to let our children and women across the country know that their beauty has NOTHING to do with their size.  It comes from the inside and radiates on the outside.  It comes from who they are as people, not the number on the scale.  It's time for us to stand up to the fashion industry (as much as I love it) and let it be known that beauty does not equal a size 2.

So, I've a compiled a list of things that help me put my body image in perspective when I'm feeling down.

1.  Take care of yourself.
Eat healthy, exercise, and drink lots of water.  Don't do this to be skinny or to lose weight, do this to be the best YOU that you possibly can.  When you take care of yourself, you feel better about yourself.  It's just a fact.  Also, it sets a good example for your family and shows that you care about the one life and body you have been given and that you want to take care of it.

2.  Surround yourself with positive people.
We all know those people who constantly complain about how fat or ugly they think they are.  It wears us out, and half the time they're only fishing for compliments and not actually believing these things about themselves.  Don't surround yourself with these types of people.  Be around those who build you up, and in turn, build them up.  If by chance your best friend, sister, or family member is one of these people, sit down and politely ask them to stop this negativity.  Tell them how it makes you feel and ask them to start working on positivity with you.  Chances are, if they really care about you, they'll do their best to stop.

3.  Make a list of 10 things you love about yourself and read it often.
These things should have absolutely NOTHING to do with weight or how you look.  These should be things like, I graduated from college or I'm a wonderful wife/mother/girlfriend/etc. This is a reminder to yourself that beauty comes from inside.

4.  Be a critical viewer of media messages.
Remember that the models you're seeing day in and day out are not real.  Airbrushing and Photoshop exist for a reason--because no one is perfect!  When looking at fashion ads, appreciate the clothes for their artistic qualities, not because their on a size 2 model.

5.  Do things for others.
Use your extra time and energy to give back to the world around you.  Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity,become a tutor or mentor for a child.  Channel the negative feelings you have towards yourself into helping others.  Doing this usually puts your own life into perspective, and you begin to appreciate who you are and what you have.  Most likely, you will realize that you are blessed beyond belief, and those negative body images will melt away in comparison to what others have gone through.

I sure hope these few things work for y'all as much as they do for me.  I want to leave you guys with a few pictures of what REAL and BEAUTIFUL women look like.

Love yourself.  We were made in our Creator's perfect image.  My mother gave me the cutest little wall hanger when I was little.  It had a picture of a sad little boy.  On it, it read "I know I'm somebody, cause God don't make no junk."  Cheesy, but it's so true.  You are loved so much by our Savior, and if everything I said before didn't hit home, maybe that will.

The weekend is upon us, hippies!  Only one more day to go!

xoxo-Chelsea Eli

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