"Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.” Marilyn Monroe
'Our body and physical shape represents who and what we are to the world. It is a fundamental part of our sense of self. Body image always is and always has been shaped according to the specific cultural moment. Bodies have always been an expression of a specific period, geography and cultural place. Our world is an increasingly visual one with images fast becoming the most powerful form of communication. Our digital and hyper saturated image culture has given rise to a narrowing aesthetic and the tyranny of the ideal flawless image of beauty and body image.
Body preoccupation and a relentless desire to reshape the body is evident everywhere, we live in a cultural climate that promotes a belief that the body is almost infinitely modifiable. It is as if the body has become a canvas to be fixed, remade, enhanced, reshaped and updated. In order to navigate these pressures it is helpful to become more self-aware in how you think of yourself as a woman. An important question for women to ask of themselves is “do I believe I am enough as I am?” To acknowledge and value what defines us as women beyond our appearance such as; intellect, emotional intelligence, professional success, loving relationships, creativity, capacity for empathy and compassion, resilience and strength, loyalty and leadership, kindness and love, health and vitality.
There is a craziness in society to look the same; you “should” look like this, you “should” look like that. Ultimately the message is you “should” look like someone else. Losing our sense of individuality in this way reduces self-esteem, creates insecurity, causes self-devaluation and leads to shame and guilt. Avoid subscribing to someone else’s reality in terms of what defines who you are as a woman. Embrace your sense of individuality and uniqueness – it is time to unlearn one way of being and develop another more sustainable one.
Society’s obsession with looks coupled with the chronic observation of our appearance – is extremely detrimental to our self-esteem and can leave us feeling powerless. We are bombarded by images telling us what’s most important about us is how we look. Employ a media and social media detox to avoid getting caught in the toxic trap of comparison.
Women live in a world where they are often taught that their primary form of currency is their appearance, and you can’t escape it. We have become prey to industries and practices which frequently increase our sense of insecurity. Every week there is a new fad diet, celebrity trainer or wellness “expert” offering us the latest regime – this constant stream of often contradictory information is confusing and exhausting.
- Ditch the fad diets and choose to eat mindfully and intuitively.
- Focus on healthy living and wellbeing over weight loss and appearance.
- Trust that your space in the world is assured and believe that you are enough as you are.
- Being perfect and flawless is a myth – it does not exist. True beauty lies in our flaws and imperfections – they are what make us unique.'
Elaine is a Psychologist and Psychotherapeutic Counsellor. She is registered with The United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy and is a member of The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.