As the new year begins, many people head to the gym with goals of shedding pounds and being the beautiful, thin person they’ve always imagined. Many think, this year, this year I will lose the weight and I will be beautiful!. Many find themselves over-exercising, starving/restricting their food intake, or taking diet pills like Phentermine (known to cause heart problems and addiction) while staring into photoshopped images in fashion magazines. While the pressures and demands on us to be uber thin and thus “beautiful” do have real, harmful effects on us in our realities; many of us try to increase our self-esteem by getting caught in perpetual loops of self-defeat and failure, which actually can make us feel worse about ourselves. Have you ever lost ten pounds and then re-gained it shortly after? How did you feel about yourself when you lost it? How did you feel about yourself when you gained it back? For many of us, we can feel worse about ourselves after the yoyo weight loss than before we lost any weight at all.
I am a strong advocate of health and wellness. This does not translate to thinness or manufactured beauty. In this new year, I challenge you to look within and contemplate your motivations for weight loss. Are you comparing yourself to people thinner or “more beautiful” than yourself? When did you start feeling inferior about the way you look? When do you feel best about the way you look? When do you feel worst?
For many, dieting and low self-esteem begin in early childhood. Dove produced a campaign for “real beauty” (though I might argue they too perpetuate the beauty myth to an extent by advertising gendered beauty products, but that is for a later post) that explored self-esteem, weight, and the beauty myth. Below I am attaching a video they created that interviews several young women about their self-esteem and the pressures to be attractive. I find the video to be heartbreaking. I can relate with their insecurities, and the cruelty endured by peers for not being “attractive enough.”
In 2013, I encourage you to turn off your televisions. Install ad-blocking software on your internet browser. Emotionally detach yourself from pop culture. Stop looking at beauty and gossip magazines. Stop consuming advertisements that tell your subconscious that you are not enough.
In 2013, let your goal be to fall in love with yourself. As is, right here, right now.
Be bold. Be healthy. Be yourself. You are beautiful. You are enough.