I have never really been comfortable in my own skin. I can remember as early as 13 years old feeling self conscious as I watched my body go through the changes that happen for girls around that age. It was always very uncomfortable for me even with a very loving family who never made me feel anything other than beautiful.
It’s interesting how much you take in from the media when you’re growing up, even without realizing it. I would compare my curvier body to the popular Victoria’s Secret models and wonder how I could change my body to be more like theirs. I would find myself restricting what I ate thinking maybe that was the secret to finally being able to accept my body, but it never worked.
Over the years I battled a secret dislike for what I saw staring back at me in the mirror and a desire to look more like the mainstream ideal of beauty. I was never completely unhappy, but to say I was never pressured by what I saw around me would be a lie.
As I grew older and more comfortable in my own skin, the media obsession over weight and body shape shifted – in some ways for the better and other ways far worse than before. I began to see similar body shapes in the media being glamorized and uplifted for their curves, but at the same time I saw a lot more negativity starting to enter the conversations – picking apart celebrity weight and shapes.
Since becoming a mother I think I am even more hyper-aware of how the media has grown this unhealthy obsession with weight. I am the mom of two daughters and my goal is to raise them loving their body and not feeling the way I did about mine growing up. I make conscious efforts in my own life to speak better of myself and to model healthy self-talk for my girls.
But, I wonder if that will ever be enough? The media is not going anywhere and my girls are bombarded daily with images that could help or hinder their own sense of self. I also wonder, if it’s this bad now – what will it be like when they are more impressionable?
Recently, there was a story about Jessica Simpson ‘possibly’ being pregnant again because although she gave birth 3-months ago, she hasn’t lost the 70 pounds from pregnancy yet. There are stories that focus more on celebrating weight loss and being slimmer verses accomplishments that are far more important. Celebrity moms are feeling the pressure to lose the weight after giving birth far quicker than ever before and they’re being ripped apart if they don’t do it ‘fast enough’. We idolize and celebrate celebrities who lose the weight fast enough to walk a Victoria’s Secret fashion show – those women I felt so inferior to when I was a young girl.
I worry for my girls and their self-esteem and body image. I worry that with the rate the media is going, the pressure to be thin will be much stronger though I can’t even imaging it getting worse than it is now (I know it probably will). I worry that since I am susceptible to the pressure that I won’t be a strong enough role model for my girls to develop a healthy sense of body image and self esteem outside all the media noise.
I do know that something needs to change. We need to start respecting each other and stop putting our own self worth on the size and shape of our body. I am going to make this change in my own self-talk and in the way I talk about other women’s bodies.
:: Do you think the media will change for the better? Do you believe it’s possible to raise girls with healthy-self esteem in this culture? ::
Photo credit: modified from SashaW / Flickr
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