This is a post I’ve been putting off writing just because it’s a little hard to articulate and I’m far from being an expert on the subject, but it’s something that’s been on my mind recently. The best blogging advice I’ve gotten is to write a blog that I myself would want to read, and I know that I appreciate when people open up in their writing, so here goes!
Body image is something that I (and SO many other girls) struggle with. Since 91% (!!) of women aren’t satisfied with their bodies, it’s definitely worth talking about.
As girls, we’re our own worst critics. We tell ourselves that our stomach isn’t flat enough, our nose is too big, our chest is too small, our arms are too jiggly, our thighs are too “thunder-y,” and about 320,948 other criticisms. We pick ourself apart both in pictures and in the mirror. Seriously, if we had a friend who treated us the way we treat ourselves sometimes, we’d end that friendship in a second!
I think that being naturally self-conscious about some parts of yourself is unescapable. For one example, I’ve never been a huge fan of my hips, and I was self-conscious about them for a long time. To me, they’ve always seemed disproportionately big compared to the rest of my body. Since I got them in 7th or 8th grade, I didn’t like how they looked. I’ve come a long way since then, but since I’m being honest, even when I took this picture last summer, my first thought was, “Yikes, my hips look huge.”
The crazy thing is that when I see another girl with hips, I think she looks awesome– totally feminine, curvy, and beautiful. My cousin is built a lot like me– tall, long legs, and some serious hips– and I think she looks incredible!! I’m the first one to tell friends they’re perfect and beautiful when they start to pick themselves apart, but I don’t naturally tell myself the same thing.
We have this crazy double standard where we are SO tough on ourselves. I think a big part of it is because we’re perfectionists, and we can’t live up to our own impossible standards.
And then of course, a lot of it is because of the “ideal body” we see portrayed in the media. Tina Fey says it the best:The only person I can think of who even comes close to this is a Victoria’s Secret model. On a recent run, my friend and I were talking about the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. There are lots of mixed opinions about the show and you can feel free to disagree, but we both agreed that the model’s bodies promote an unrealistic and unhealthy fitness standard.
In an interview, model Adriana Lima dished on what her pre-fashion show routine is: six weeks before the show, she cuts almost all carbs and fat from her diet, while also working out two hours per day. Nine days before the show, she cuts out all solid food and consumes only liquids, while increasing her workouts to two per day. 12 hours before the show, she cuts out liquids entirely. It’s a model’s full-time job to strictly plan their meals (or lack of meals…) and do long workouts with personal trainers, not to mention the fact that they naturally hit the genetic lottery…
…And then we, as full-time college students (or businesswomen, high school students, moms, etc.) will compare ourselves to them? Uh, what? (If you don’t believe me, watch the Victoria’s Secret “fashion” show with some girls next year.)
What if we could just strive to live an active lifestyle and fuel our bodies with (mostly) healthy food, and then be happy with how they look? What if we could start embracing our bodies, with their imperfections and all? How would that change things?
Like I mentioned before, I’ve come a long way in being able to be happy with the way I look, and it’s so freeing! Of course, we all have those days where we feel less-than-attractive, but they’re happening much less often for me because guess what I’ve realized? No one else cares about my hips. I enjoy eating in a way that makes me feel good, not in a way that’s restrictive. And most importantly, no one is harder on me than myself, and I’m the one who has the power over myself.
And even beyond that, we don’t have to let our bodies define how we feel about ourselves and our value. We have SO much more to offer the world than just our appearance. We can choose not to let our insecurities consume us. Think of how much good we could accomplish when we choose to focus our energy outwards, rather than inwards!
And most of all, we (myself definitely included) can work on being our own best friend instead of our worst enemy.
What do you think? I’d love to hear from you!
Courtney @ Running For Cupcakes says
I think the VS models are gorgeous but I definitely could never follow that strict diet and exercise plan to look like that and I am completely fine with that. I also will never be tall enough to be a VS angel haha!
They ARE gorgeous! Reading about what they do to get ready for the fashion show reminded me of wrestlers who have to slim down before a match or something. They’re like tall, skinny, elite wrestlers haha!
Wow…91%. I knew it was the majority of women, but not that high! So sad :(. I relate to the hip insecurity, that’s ALWAYS been my insecurity…hips and butt haha but I would have never guessed you would be insecure about yours! I guess that’s proof of how we perceive ourselves, right there. I didn’t truly struggle with body image until I got into college. For cross country and track we had to get our body fat tested and it was awful and made me insecure about my whole entire body because I wondered if I would be faster if I was smaller. Even though there were girls of ALL shapes and sizes kicking my butt haha.I loved college and my team, but I am so glad that I’m no longer in that type of environment and no longer subjected to that. I have such a different mindset now.
I was shocked by the 91%, too! It made me so sad to think about how many girls are insecure about their body.
It’s so awesome that you ran for your college, but wow, that’s tough that they made you get your body fat tested! It’d be so hard not to wonder if you should lose body fat when you’re in that kind of environment, even if you’re already at a healthy weight. I’m so happy for you that your mindset’s changed since then!
GiGi Eats says
I used to be really mean to myself, always throwing myself down a flight of stairs, thinking I am not good enough, etc, etc. But I have gotten over that, I am officially secure with who I am and what I look like. Sure there are flaws, but flaws are what make people special and we fail to realize that there truly is no definition of perfection because perfection is perceived differently in everyone’s eyes.
GiGi! So happy for you that you’ve been able to become secure in who you are! That’s such a great reminder that perfectionism is perceived so differently in everyone’s eyes, which is just another reason that perfectionism is an impossible goal 🙂
Tom @ Raise Your Garden says
How true. The media is always trying to get people to try and “look” a certain way. I have two girls 4 and 2 and pray that there security will be internal. Thanks for your honesty.
Thanks for reading, Tom!!
Alison @ Daily Moves and Grooves says
AMEN. Holy smokes, I love this, Liv. I most definitely agree that we are our own worst enemies and that the ideal body according to our culture is unattainable and unhealthy for most. The diversity in our world is what’s beautiful, but we try so hard to make everyone the same.
And you’re right— we have so much more to offer than our looks. Health is not (or at least should not be) equated with a “perfect” body, whatever that is. Our bodies are temporary, but our attitudes and gifts to the world are lasting and impacting.
Great post, girl!
So true, the diversity in our world IS what makes it so beautiful! I love how you said that!
And “our bodies are temporary, but our attitudes and gifts to the world are lasting and impacting.” You have such a way with words 🙂
And thanks so much, Alison!
Girl!! Let me start by saying… you look amazing!! Seriously, I would have never guessed that you had insecurities because you’re just so cute and pretty!! …but isn’t that how we ALL tend to be as woman- being soooo hard on ourselves! I know I beat myself up so much!! I mean, now I’m a lot better about it… but man, the struggle is real!! Thanks for the encouraging post!!
You’re so sweet, Cailee! I think I’m starting to realize that pretty much every girl has her insecurities, although I’m still always shocked when I find out that a beautiful friend who seems to have it all together is insecure about herself. So glad the post was encouraging to you! You’re beautiful and seriously such an inspiration! Definitely don’t be too hard on yourself 🙂
Liz @ A Latte Running says
Thank you, thank you, thank you. You are truly such a talented and eloquent writer and every single point is spot on. It’s so incredibly hard not to tear ourselves apart! I’m naturally muscular and more compact than most girls, so I’m always self-conscious about my thighs and waist. Thank you for writing such a great post with an excellent reminder to love our own bodies.
FYI, you look gorgeous in your suit <3
Liz! Your comment just made my day!! Thanks so much girl!
Great post, Liv! I truly believe that every single woman has put them self down at least a handful of times in their life. If they disagreed, I wouldn’t believe them in a split second. It happens – were women. It’s like we are prone to do that. Is it right? Absolutely not! For two years I would critize myself almost daily about something regarding my appearance. I can honestly say though that since becoming pregnant, my view has completely changed. Would I of been happy having stretch marks 9 months ago? Probably not! But today, I’m loving them. We as women need to just take a deep breath & accept ourselves (especially our bodies) for what THEY CAN DO aka working out, everyday housework, getting up in the morning, etc..
I love your point about focusing on what our bodies CAN do, instead of what they CAN’T do or DON”T look like. Thanks so much for your insight, Jessie!
Lacey @ Runs and Roses says
Great post! I 100% agree with everything you said. The thing that gets me most is the tv shows we watch, where 30 year olds are playing high schoolers and we grow up expecting we’re going to be fully matured (with a smokin hot boyfriend)… in 10th grade. The media definitely has a huge role in how we view ourselves and our bodies, which is so not ok!
You’re so right! In shows like One Tree Hill or even movies like High School Musical, the characters are in high school, but they’re actually all in their mid to late twenties and they’re so much more grown up than actual high schoolers. It’s a tad misleading, for sure!
Nicole @fitnessfatale.com says
Great post! The Victoria secret runway show prep is crazy!
And for the record I think your hips are hot and feminine. I’d love to have those curves! 🙂
Haha!! Thanks so much, Nicole! 🙂
Jen @ Bagels to Broccoli says
I just came across this post – and your blog! – and I so appreciate your sentiment! It’s true; we are way too hard on ourselves and most people aren’t looking at us to judge except to compare themselves in one way or another. I’ve never seen the VS Fashion Show, and to be honest, I’m not sure it would be all that helpful to my mindset anyway! Thanks for your articulate and honest thoughts!
Thanks, Jen!! So glad the post resonated with you. We’re definitely way too hard on ourselves sometimes!
I can totally relate to this. I’ve had a lot of image and wright issues in the past, but have gotten so much better. It really is freeing to not think about it so much. I realized there are SOO many more important things to think about, and that negative energy is so harmful. I love this post. You are beautiful, including your hips! Thank you for sharing 🙂
Thanks so much, Danielle!! So happy for you that you’ve been freed from some of those struggles 🙂
Angela Han says
Also,why do we all have to be so vain? There are a million things more important than body shape/size to think about. If everyone invested the same amount of resources and time dedicated to social issues rather than physical appearances the world would be a much better place right now. The majority of us are not models (whose JOB it is to look good); we should focus our attention on other things.
It’s definitely true that our appearances shouldn’t be our main focus! There are lots of other more important things to focus on 🙂