Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it. - Confucius
“Mommy, I love you,” my daughter Sienna said. “And I love myself too.” I was overjoyed to hear this healthy talk coming from my three-year-old, especially after I’d read some recent statistics on the difficulties women have in loving ourselves.
As we all know, beauty issues, dieting, health and self-esteem are all tangled up in the impossible expectations we have for ourselves. These shattered images of beauty begin early in life, when media bombardment starts, targeting pre-schoolers with ideals of beauty that simply don’t exist.
Most models weigh 23% less than average-sized women, and actually meet the clinical criteria for anorexia. And even then, swimsuit models’ figures are often airbrushed to look even more frighteningly thin than they already do.
According to a recent study, moms, on average, worry more about their bodies than women who have not had children, in addition to worrying about passing on that poor self-image banter to their children. So what’s a body to do?
1. Spend less time looking in the mirror, and more time doing what you love.
How much time do women spend looking in the mirror? On average, women dedicate 55 minutes a day to their appearance, or a full two weeks a year. Almost double the male average of 4.5 hours a week. And guess what? So much facetime can negatively impact your self image. 60% of adult women have negative thoughts about themselves at least once a week, compared to 36% of men. The figures are higher for teenage girls. 78% reported having negative thoughts about their looks at least once a week, while spending 7.7 hours a week on their appearance. Reverse those numbers by spending more time actively engaged in your passions and talents, and less time looking at your wrinkles! Odds are, you’ll feel better and worry less.
2. If you are obsessing, change your priorities.
67% of adult women regularly worry about their appearance, more than finances, career, health or relationships. Images of impossible beauty ideals are everywhere, and even though we are aware they are impossible, there seems to be a connection in how we see ourselves. Women obsess over body “trouble spots” twice as much as men. Apparently women have 6 “trouble spots” compared to only 3 for men: Tummy, skin, thighs, hair, cellulite and butt. Creating healthy habits such as nutritious eats and regular exercise will not only boost your metabolism (and your butt), it will increase self-esteem and your sense of well-being.
3. Talk yourself up, not down.
Negative talk about our bodies or age is common. Nearly 80% of women engage in what the media has nicknamed “fat talk” and “old talk.” But studies show it only makes you feel worse. Ruminating over body issues creates anxiety. Try instead to notice the wonderful things about yourself—both inside and out. Count your blessings and sing your praises, for we are all beautiful in a thousand different ways.
4. Accept yourself.
No matter what your body type is, you are the perfect you. Or as Dr. Seuss so wisely put it; “There is no one alive who is youer than you!”
5. Remember: you are a model, a role model.
What is the most important thing we can teach our daughters? Love yourself!