Half of 9- and 10-year-old girls say they feel better about themselves if they are on a diet, and 81 percent of them are afraid of being fat. And this body image issue does not get better as we get older. The average woman is 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 140 pounds, yet many wish they looked like the average model, who is 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighs 117 pounds.
It seems that many women are permanently unsatisfied with themselves. 50 percent of all women are on a diet at any given time, and 90 percent of teenagers diet regularly. It is estimated that between 15 and 25 percent of women struggle from disordered eating.
We try so hard to mold ourselves into some image we hold in our imaginations. But wanting to reshape ourselves stems from feelings of dissatisfaction, shame and negativity, so is it any wonder that all our diets leave us feeling miserable? An unhealthy ideal sets us up for pain, and discontent nurtures self-loathing rather than positivity and change. Shame may spur us into action, but it cannot enact lasting transformation.
Rather, what we need to transform is our attitude toward ourselves. We do not have to accept all aspects of our bodies and health forever, but we do have to love ourselves. When we learn to nurture our bodies and emotions, we learn to view ourselves with love and acceptance.
When we cultivate positive self-talk, reach for healthy goals rather than restrictive ideals, and view ourselves with love rather than with hate, we feel good. We begin a routine of healthy action toward ourselves. Thoughts of love and care means that we turn to healthy foods that make us feel good and begin the first steps to nourishing our bodies and minds correctly and without deprivation.
There is no need to crush our bodies into a mold someone else fitted for us. We are all unique and different, and there is much happiness to be had in learning to appreciate the infinite facets and capabilities of our unique form.
With love and acceptance comes positive, lasting change that is easy to continue. Which aspects of your lifestyle could stand to change for the better? What could you learn to accept? What habits could be modified for a healthier, better cared-for you?