Full Life Reflections

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

In my last post, I wrote about a few of my personal “body image role models,” women who embody healthy body attitudes and are helping me to cultivate similar perspectives. Now it’s time to consider the celebrities…

We often hear about the negative effects of the media and the damage created by trying to live up to celebrities in terms of beauty and thinness. While it’s true that many stars are not good role models for young (and older) women, there are some who buck that trend. I have written about a few of them in previous posts and will continue to share stories of women in the limelight who possess refreshingly positive attitudes related to the topics addressed in this blog.

I also keep a file of positive quotes from famous women on the topics of body image and self-esteem. Today’s post shares a few of these quotes from celebrity body image role models, as well as my commentary on what they have to say. The women quoted represent various professions – an athlete, a model, a singer, and a reality TV star – but they all have powerful insights to share with those of us who are working to rehabilitate a negative body image. It is my hope that you will gain a few tidbits of wisdom or “aha moments” from reading the quotes below.

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.

I always love when a woman with an alternate body type rises to fame in film or television. When I say “alternate body type,” I’m referring to a woman who does not possess the standard Hollywood stick-thin figure embodied by most starlets today. I think it’s good for young girls to witness other types of bodies on the big or small screen, especially since most women are not naturally a size 2 or 4. It’s healthy for them to see stars that have curvier bodies but are still regarded as beautiful by society at large.

One such woman who has recently risen to fame is Christina Hendricks, the lovely actress who plays Joan Holloway on “Mad Men.” Christina has flowing flame-colored hair, alabaster skin, glowing blue eyes, and a bombshell figure which evokes comparisons to Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield. Her shape is a pronounced hourglass and she proudly shows off all of her gorgeous curves, both on “Mad Men” and on the red carpet. She stands out not only because she’s stunningly beautiful, but also because she looks different from most of the other women we see in Hollywood today.

I recently found a journal entry I made following an interesting shopping experience I had back in 2004. I titled my journal entry “Perspective.” I am sharing what I wrote six years ago because I feel it is timeless and highly relevant to the “body image rehab” process. I have modified the original text slightly for the sake of clarity. I also removed references to specific sizes, as that information may be “triggering” to some people and is not really pertinent to the overall message.

I was in a department store buying clothes the other day. While waiting in line to pay, I overheard a conversation a lot of new clothes and told the saleswoman it was because she had recently lost quite a bit of weight. I noticed that the clothes she was buying were all several sizes larger than my current size; a size which I feel is unacceptable. I also noted that this woman was approximately six inches shorter than me. While I would have been horrified to be purchasing those larger sizes at my height, this woman was absolutely thrilled to be wearing that same size.

It struck me at that moment that it is all about perspective. I hate wearing my current size now because I used to wear two sizes smaller (or even four or five sizes smaller during my anorexic years). In contrast, the woman in front of me loved the fact that she was buying her current size because she used to wear a much larger size. What disgusts me thrills her. Interesting how perspective affects how we feel about our size – and ourselves.

For as long as I can remember, there has been at least one part of my body which I have found completely unacceptable. This hated body part hasn’t always been the same, but I can’t remember a time when I was not obsessing about some aspect of my body. It is extremely difficult for me to inhabit my body and not be roiling against some part of it. I do not feel fully comfortable in my own skin and this leads me to feel hopeless and despondent at times.

I can remember hating my hips, calves, tummy, butt, nose, and hair at different times over the years. While I am still not thrilled with any of those parts, I no longer obsess over them. At the present time (and for a number of years now), my most hated body part is my thighs. I don’t think a day goes by when I don’t find myself cursing the size of my legs, wishing they could miraculously be smaller, and trying to find a way to camouflage what I consider to be their tremendous girth.