As a psychologist, I am painfully aware of the statistics about women and their dissatisfaction with their bodies. Glamour magazine did a survey a few years back. Fully 75% of women surveyed believed they were too fat, with at least 60% being unhappy with or ashamed of the real body trouble zones: hips, thighs, and stomach. Sure, we all know that our culture, particularly the fashion industry, reinforces this locked-in pattern with airbrushing and wafer-thin models. I was pleased recently to see that Israel has banned the use of ultra-skinny models.
This is small progress women need, whatever the age. But the biggest, most inspiring, “who knew?” surprise on the body image front is this week’s interview with Christiane Northrup, MD, by Jean Fain, LICSW, MSW, on Huffington Post. Dr. Northrup is the foremost champion for women’s health, challenging women to seize control of their own bodies. And, gasp, she reveals that she didn’t come to truly accept and love her body until she was 55! Who says it’s an easy battle to overcome the deeply-ingrained biases and inaccurate body image perceptions that plague women? Dr. Northrup’s admission of this challenge is incredible validation for all women. Look how powerful the cultural forces are! None of us are immune. Even highly-educated experts are real people!
Thank you, Dr. Northrup and Ms. Fain. Midlife is not too late to overcome these shoulds in our heads–or our mirrors. At any age, we can embrace the power and beauty of our bodies, loving any shape or form. Size really just is a random number! We need not be Twiggy-skinny (on another note, just like Kim France, I’m glad to write for a place where we all get that reference!) to feel good about the skin we’re in.
What has helped you to accept and love your body? Has it gotten easier with time, simply because the expectations are more realistic and you no longer use the supermodel template? Has the strength you’ve gained with maturity generalized to body love? Share your strategies here, and let’s join with Dr. Northrup in honesty on this touchy topic.