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Build Body Esteem


Your Next Step in Feeling Good About Yourself

By Tory Butterworth, Ph.D, LPC

body-esteem new-directions-counselingSelf-esteem is a big topic. But what about Body Esteem? Most women in our society are unhappy with their bodies. In fact, approximately 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies and resort to dieting to achieve their ideal body shape. Surprisingly, only 5% of women naturally possess the body type often portrayed by Americans in the media. Women often compensate by losing weight, undertaking grueling exercise regimens, or spending thousands of dollars on bariatric or plastic surgery. A lot of effort in order to feel better about themselves. In other scenarios, women give up and isolate or deny themselves many of the simple pleasures of life. Some can end up sinking into a pit of shame, feeling disgust towards their bodies and themselves.

The Game is Rigged

Most women don’t recognize that the game is rigged. They are comparing themselves to pictures in the media of an exceptional group of women who have been picked and groomed to meet extreme standards of beauty. Starting with a rare genetic composition, these women may spend eight to ten hours a day working on their looks. Their pictures are then “photo-shopped” until the models are barely recognizable to their original self.

Ordinary women with a full-life of work, family, and childcare compare themselves to these pictures in the magazines and find themselves wanting.

When comparing overweight women who binge versus those who don’t, research shows that binge eaters look at themselves more negatively. Overweight women who don’t binge are able to focus on their strengths outside of appearance. They don’t let their self-esteem plunge based on where they want their bodies to be. Meanwhile, binge eaters’ self-perception can interfere with their daily routines, leading to decreased ability to work, care for their children, and socialize.

Ways women can take back their power and be less affected by their view of self:

  • Becoming clear on your values is an important first step. Few of us, deep down, would want our obituary to read, “Above all, she looked good.” What is most important to you? Being a good mother, spouse, professional? Give yourself a pat on the back for the daily things you do. Imagine what would happen if they didn’t get done. Counter your self-blame and shame. Because only the few look like Charlize Theron.
  • Focusing on how our bodies feel on the inside rather than how they look on the outside can reduce our negative thoughts about ourselves. Many eating plans purport to be about health but are actually about losing weight. Think about how you’d eat if you focused only on what was good for your body and how your body felt after you ate. How would you exercise if you were more concerned about feeling good inside than how you looked on the outside?
  • Choosing who we allow to influence our self-worth can be central to how we see ourselves. Each of us has an “Inner circle” of those closest to us. They remain there (hopefully) because they care about us and share our values. What if we listened to them rather than a random group of strangers on the internet?

By recognizing the dangers of body insecurity and taking active steps to focus positively on themselves, women can begin to feel good about their bodies once again and get on with the fulfilling aspects of their lives.

Would you like additional support? Participate in our BODY ESTEEM Workshop: Find Yourself Again. Saturday, March 7 from 9am – 12pm. Click here for more information.