Friday, May 25, 2012

body image.

When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
When you look in the mirror, how do you feel?

Body image is a weird thing. It has the ability to drag you down, even if things are going well otherwise. The way you look has such an impact on how you feel, and it's not even just because of your own opinion of yourself.

This website says, "Developing a positive body image and a healthy mental attitude is crucial to a woman's happiness and wellness."

This is obviously not always easy, and it's mostly because of what others tell us about our appearance.

For example, just this week in the news there was a story about Jessica Ennis, a track star in the U.K. who is heading to the Olympic Games in July, who was called fat by a senior official with U.K. Athletics. If that's fat (click the link to see her photo), what are the rest of us supposed to think?

Another Olympic-caliber athlete (in triathlon) in the U.K. retired this week and admitted that she has had issues with food and eating disorders over her career. Even though she was a stellar triathlete, she knew to be truly healthy, both physically AND mentally, she needed to stop competing.

Even celebrities like Ashley Judd are judged for appearance, something she fought back against when the media said her face was too puffy and she must have had work done.

I've kind of talked about this kind of thing before, with disordered eating, but I still think we need to talk about it.

I am not a size four. I am not even sure my body is capable of being a size four, given my bone structure. I am not concerned with being a size four. What I am concerned with is feeling healthy, being active and having fun.

Me, swimming fast (for me).
However, this doesn't mean that people see that. People can't tell by looking at me that I love to write and sing and run. People can't tell by looking at me that I have finished a half marathon, and I can swim pretty darn fast if I am trained for it. People can't tell by looking at me that I am a good person with a good heart, and that I am honest and loyal to my friends.

People likely don't see me how I see myself, because people are very quick to make assumptions about other people simply based on appearance. Especially when that person is overweight.

Now, don't get me wrong. I know being overweight or obese is not healthy. We have a growing obesity problem in our country, which is really a problem for more reasons than just a person's individual health. But does making pointed remarks or jokes about a person's appearance help them? More often than not, the comments you make to someone are things they are already self-conscious of. Even a person who is thin (at least, thinner than me!) can have body image issues.

Part of this is that we are so focused on image and looks in our society. Models are stick-thin, and actresses are so svelte and so many actors have six-packs. Everyone is so glamorous, at least that's how it seems. And most times, clothing never, ever looks bad on a famous person (which, if you read this fantastic post you will see why that is and why I want a sewing machine or a tailor). People go on crash diets and cleanses and subscribe to other unhealthy ideas of nutrition, just to look like these "beautiful people."

Are our looks really more important than our feelings? Should someone be considered a bad person because of how their jeans fit, or the size they wear? It just doesn't seem right. I want my other accomplishments to mean something more than what you think of how my shirt fits.

Instead of making remarks about how someone looks, why don't we ask how people are feeling? Instead of telling someone "You look great" or "You look so thin!" maybe we should consider asking them how they are feeling and how they have been. Maybe we should be proud of people for accomplishing all their goals, from weight loss to fitness to professional to others, and not just the goals related to what they look like.

Sure, it makes me feel good when you tell me I look nice. It can definitely be a confidence boost. But I also want you to know about this great story I wrote, and the trips I earned for working hard, and the master's degree I plan on starting in the fall. I want you to know that I like to write poems and draw pictures and cook new, interesting things.

I want my interests and my abilities to be just as important as what you see, if not more so, and I'm 100 percent sure I am not the only one to feel this way. Especially on those days when we look in the mirror and don't necessarily like what we see. Even when I have those days, I still know I have a lot more going on for me that makes me a good person.

I'm never going to be a size four, but I'm always going to be LindsAy. And I'm okay with that.


  1. Such a great post! Thanks for encouraging us to look inward! Gonna pass this one along!

  2. From one LindsAy to another, thank you. It's so damn hard to be comfortable in your (my) own skin!