Full Life Reflections

Striving for happiness, peace, and fulfillment in a chaotic world

A lot of attention is given to celebrities who have enviable figures. We’ve all seen the magazine articles with such titles as “The Hottest Hollywood Bodies,” “Body after Baby,” and a multitude of other stories chronicling celebrity weight loss and the body ideals showcased by the stars. Similarly, many of us know “real people” with amazing physiques and we may compare our own bodies to theirs and find ourselves coming up short. Seeing beautiful bodies can either motivate us or deflate our spirits, depending upon our mindsets and how we feel about our chances of achieving our body goals.

While it can be helpful to have body role models, it is even better to have body image role models, especially for those of us who are working to rehabilitate a negative body concept. This post will highlight a few of my personal body image role models and show what I have learned from the women in my life who embody healthy attitudes toward their bodies.

There have been many books written on the topics of eating issues and body image, and I have read a number of them. When a new book in that genre is released these days, it has to be very special in order to catch my attention, if only for the reason that I must have read at least a hundred such books in my lifetime. One book which I can wholeheartedly recommend is “Unbearable Lightness” by Portia de Rossi. Although I have only read half of this book thus far, I have no hesitation in recommending it for the readers of “Body Image Rehab.”

Portia de Rossi is best known for her role on “Ally McBeal” and for being the wife of comedienne and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres. Although she looks healthy and vibrant today, what many people didn’t know until recently was that she suffered from severe anorexia and bulimia for many years. She details her struggle in highly open, honest, and poignant terms in her new book.

For most of my adult life, I’ve either weighed too much or too little. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve been at a happy, healthy, and comfortable weight. I want to believe that I can turn this around and find balance in this area of my life, but sometimes it’s difficult to remain optimistic. This post focuses on my struggle to maintain my weight and looks at some of the potential reasons for this phenomenon. I also explore ways to achieve balance in terms of both weight and self-image.

I’ve lost a bit of weight lately… I’m not sure how much since I don’t weigh myself very often, but my clothes are looser and my stomach is surprisingly flat. While I am happy to be feeling leaner, my weight loss is somewhat of a “hollow victory” and I find myself having mixed feelings about it. I’ve lost the weight as a result of a health condition that has been causing me a great deal of distress in recent weeks (and the reason why I didn’t post a blog entry last week).

This is different from “one stomach flu away from goal weight” a la Emily in “The Devil Wears Prada.” While it’s decidedly no fun to have the flu, one knows that it will eventually end and she will be back to feeling like her normal self in a matter of days. Unfortunately, I’m not sure when I’ll be back to my “normal self.” Instead, it’s entirely possible that I will end up with a new definition for normal. My condition has a tendency to be chronic and difficult to treat, and it’s made it challenging for me to eat all that much food for a number of days now. In fact, I may end up losing more weight than I ideally want to lose as a result of my being on a continuous diet of sorts.

Are you obsessed with the sizes of your clothing? Do you refuse to buy an item if it is a larger size than you normally wear? A recent article on the Weight Watchers website (posted by a fellow member of the “Let’s Fashion Talk” forum) describes this phenomenon. Many women have a specific size in mind when shopping for clothing, and they are extremely hesitant to buy anything larger than that “magic” size.

Some highlights of the article include:

* There is no standard sizing convention among women’s clothing manufacturers. Often, the more high-end the designer, the smaller the size. Even within a single brand, there are disparities.
* “Vanity sizing,” in which measurements run larger than standard, is used by the majority of manufacturers today. One exception is the dress-pattern market, in which the measurements for the McCall’s size 8 correspond to the current 0 or 00 on the Banana Republic website!
* Vanity sizing is driven entirely by marketing psychology. Women like to fit into a smaller size and single digits sound better than double digits.
* The average American woman is 5’4.5” and wears a size 12 top and a size 14 bottom.
* The dream size for most women on the Weight Watchers plan hovers between an 8 and a 10.