The Twisted Dichotomy of Body Image

Why is it, that when I feel bad about my body image, my girl friends are the first to tell me I am beautiful, vibrant, and powerful; and my guy friends will say, ” yeah, I know that feeling. It sucks.”

Men interested in being my lover, will respond much like my girl friends.  Combating my personal displeasure with compliments.

The other day, my friend Brandon and  I were talking on the phone for an hour and a half.  We spoke about dating and sexual relationships that we have had.

He recently met a girl through the internet dating app, Tinder.

I expressed a desire to get laid, but not in that willy nilly way that unaware people often do, by lowering their personal standards.  And  yet I see my own oxymoron by feeling I have already lowered my standards by “letting myself go.” Feeling sick of my body lends me no courage to be naked with anyone, strangers and myself included.

He told me to “just do it!”  And when I explained I feel fat and gross, he said “that sucks.”

Perhaps it is my idealism getting out of control, but I want my male friends to respond with the same compassion as my female friends.  I want my male friends to reassert that they find beauty in me… even if I will have a hard time swallowing it in the moment.

Now, just maybe that is too much to ask.

Our society has been brainwashed by unreasonable expectations.  The thigh gap, a flat stomach, no extra pounds to be found; ignoring how those traits aren’t always heredity or healthy in how they are acquired.

Brandon’s mother Trish, who is a friend of mine, admitted that she unknowingly at the time, raised her sons to be “fatist.”

She admits now that in her youth, she would constantly harp out loud about strangers and even her husbands fat, and their need to lose weight.

For her, I believe this is a byproduct of living in Southern California, home of unreasonable aesthetic expectation.  Land of hopefuls wanting acting roles, and modeling gigs.

I have never been a skinny Minnie, and I admit, I too have been “fatist.”  Not so much about other people, but for myself.  When asked my greatest fear, I would respond, “getting fat.”

I would say I have an average middle American body.  I can still see my private parts despite my belly pooch, and my boobs stick out further than the pooch.  So that’s good, right?

In the last three years of living rather sedentary while taking care of my grandmother, that pooch has become more defined, and this scares the shit out of me.  I can’t find a pair of jeans that will fit appropriately over my thick thighs and my ghetto booty.  I find myself at the brink, of fat.

I recollect the quote, “If you want to know how you’ll feel tomorrow, pay attention to what you are thinking today;  If you want to know why you feel the way you do today, pay attention to what you were thinking about yesterday.”

It’s like the body has a 24 hours process time to manifest thoughts into physical proof.

Have you ever spent the day obsessing on a pimple, telling yourself “My skin is suck a wreck!”  Only to wake up the next day to find the condition has gotten worse?

I have.

There is much to say about loving and appreciating oneself.

The first thing I can say, however, is we are not taught to appreciate ourselves or our adaptability.  We live in a society  that seeks stable permanence and actively believes “pain is gain.”

We are taught to seek external praise and appreciation, and in return we are not taught to believe it.  Only to skeptically accept it.  No wonder people feel so unfulfilled.

Some of my previous responses to the compliment, “You look pretty.”

“No, I don’t.”   Denial

“Ohhhhhhkay…” Sarcasm

“Whatever.”  Brush off

“So what do you want to eat later?”  Change the subject

*Blank stare, silence, walk away*  Avoidance

“Uhh, if you find cows pretty.”  Self Deprication

How hard is it to just say, “Thank you”?  Really hard.

How hard is it to say, ” Damn straight!  Thank you!” ?  Damn near impossible.

No wonder our male friends find hesitation in complimenting.  We find far more negative responses toward kindness and appreciation than we do positive responses.  That’s got to get old and tiresome.  And for me, it has.

There is a resurgence of people who want to celebrate the divine feminine.  Most of them are considered “new age hippie types.”

The Dove company has created an ad campaign attempting to get women to see their true inner beauty, while selling soap and body products.  Needless to say, I am skeptical of their real agenda.

Advertisers don’t advertise because they genuinely care about making people feel better or live better.  They advertise to sell products and illusionary life styles.  They advertise to make money.

A tried and true method of advertising to make money is to either make people feel worse about themselves for not using a specific product, or to give a false sense of security that is held in place by using a specific product.

People in advertisements are paid.  Most likely paid actors.  There have been Vegan actors in McDonalds commercials; “rehabilitated” fat women with low self esteems staring in Jenny Craig ads.

It’s all an illusion.

Personally my confidence and esteem don’t come from any product I can buy.  I see through the illusion of advertising, and my confidence comes from within my skin.

My confidence on a daily basis lays on the contingency of how my hair, body and skin look to me at the time.  Whether or not I can pull my outfit together, or if my hair will curl, or if I can cover up my blemishes with out exacerbating my flakey broken out skin.

At the end of the day, the only products that will help, are wholesome natural foods.  Not make up or clothing, or weight loss pills..

I, like many women, cave at times to the illusion of advertising.  Hoping for a quick fix and a boost of instant gratification.

If I become more aware of myself and the situation, I see that I should be able to muster up my own instant gratification.

I am alive, I am mobile and malleable.

I am not advertisement “perfection,” but I am, the perfect me.  The one and only, (at least so far as I know in this dimension).

If I am able to breathe, move and think; then I am able to change and adapt.  Adaptability becomes illusive when we keep ourselves boxed into who we think we are.   The walls of illusion are permanence.

I have had the blessing of living many different lives in this one life time.  My body and mind have adapted to each newness, not always in my perception as “positive,” but adaptable change nonetheless.

Most of the changes I’ve deemed  “negative” have been a byproduct of negative self talk.  A gut reaction that is usually in the vein of denial; sarcasm, self deprecation, avoidance or ignoring.

We ALL want to feel good about ourselves and each other, but the programs we’ve been fitted with support competition and comparison.

We are not taught to look in the mirror and see the positive.  We are taught to focus on the flaws and then to unabashedly pick at them; to confirm what we see with negative self talk.  Only then do we walk away feeling shitty; full of self doubt ready to be shared amongst humanity like contamination.

We know we don’t like how it feels and yet we don’t know how to eradicate the problem.

I am reminded of a viral video called “Jessica’s Affirmations.”  The cute little curly haired blonde girl standing on the counter top in her bathroom, in front of the mirror.

“I love my hair, I love my mother, I love my sisters…”

” I can do anything. I can do anything good.  I can do anything better!”

That video went viral not only because it is cute, but because it was the actions of a Master.  It was how we all wish we could be, but what we do not allow ourselves; the freedom to be, based off of a life time of stored apprehensions and self loathing.

We accept little Jessica, positively affirming because four year olds are cute and they don’t have the same acquired emotional baggage as an adult.

We laugh and cheer her on because we’ve lost some hope for ourselves, but we can believe in a child.  A child like that, is bound to “do” or “be” somebody, someday.

I have written about emotional baggage a lot over the years.  How we carry it with us though it no longer serves our best interests.  Baggage can become it’s own addiction.  Emotional hoarding.  Or emotional masochism.  Tearing and picking at ourselves when we look in the mirror, and hating ourselves for it long down the line.  Unknowingly adopting attitudes and belief systems that support self abuse and self suppression.

How cool it seems, to be to appear coy, withdrawn and disinterested.  Emotionally caving to a pervasive belief that “IF it SEEMS too good to be true, it probably IS.”   The old adage, “Don’t get your hopes up.”

So we have stopped hoping so much .  We redirect our energy in to squelching our own excitement for fear it will all fall through, and fall apart.  We become accustomed to mundane.  Thinking magic only happens to beautiful, wealthy movers and shakers.

But not for us, normal, average people.

Most people just want to fit in; to not feel left out.  And in that, they compromise their own unique magic, mystique and specialness.  No one wants to stand out too much, fearing that if they do, they’ll be made fun of or isolated.

So we throw ourselves into any sort of conformity and find ourselves still feeling wanting, and dissatisfied.

Would I feel perfect if I weighed 125 pounds?  I don’t know, I’ve never been there.

Do I think I would feel better about myself?  Probably, there are a lot of clothes a girl my size should not wear, that 125 lb me would love to strut around in.  But I know even that would not be enough.

To not worry about my weight, or how I look would inevitably trade off into some other mental fixation, whether it would be the process of maintenance, or perfecting other issues I find with myself.

For each thing we fixate or obsess about, and then remedy; there are three new concerns that are ready to take its place.  Let’s face it, we all want to be, do and enjoy more than we allow ourselves.  It can turn into a stew of self regulation.

“I can’t eat that.”

“I can’t go there.”

“I can’t do that.”

Really?  Is there a force field keeping you from it?

We create our own mental force fields.  We reinforce them with our negative affirmations and synthesized mental stresses.

Why do we do this?

A fear of unconditional love seems to me, to be the culprit.

There is a lot of talk about a need for self love, unconditionally.  However, our society has such distorted views of love to begin with.  It is a struggle to know exactly how love, especially unconditional love, feels.

We mistake lust for love; liking for love, abuse for love, restriction for love, and jealousy for love.

I like the adaptation on the golden rule, ” Treat others the way you want to be treated,” into ” Treat yourself the way you would have others treat you.”

Meaning to me, why would we shit talk ourselves, if we hate the idea of others shit talking us?

We dive head first into self deprecation almost as if to beat others to the punch.  It is an overused modality in stand up comedy.  To be the first one to talk down about ourselves in order to shelter our hearts and egos from the disaster of the potential observations of our fellow humans.

In so doing, we ignore the fact that EVERYONE has their own special set of insecurities and fixations.  We ignore that everyone is capable of  self effacing grandiose

Each one of us is the center of our own universe, and under the microscope of our own insecurity we are blinded to the peripheral view that deep down there is nothing extremely different about anyone, unless we deem them that credit as an individual.

We all struggle with fear and self doubt.  We isolate ourselves in the illusion that everyone is better or more adaptable, or magical than the “I” who stares in the mirror.

Everyone is taking an individual path leading to the same place.  That place is the understanding of infinite self love.

We want to love and be loved, we just don’t know how to do it, find it, or feel it.  We are not programed for easy acceptance of it.

When I try to imagine what self love looks and feels like, I think it comes with the appreciation of waking up alive everyday.  Looking in the mirror and saying “Hey Beautiful, I love you!  Today is going to be a great day because you are in it!”

It is the self encouragement to be courageous and do what is best for the self, because we all want the best, but we have horrible role models and frankly, we don’t feel like we deserve it.

There is a common misconception that we have to earn what we deserve.  That there are some illusive hoops we have to jump through in order to prove to someone outside of ourselves that we are worthy.

Each of us are born with the gift of life.  Within that gift we are ENTITLED love.  Some of us start with really rough beginnings which makes that path to Love a bit more rocky.  Especially loss or abuse in the formative years before self awareness comes to play.

These can be amazing learning curves that catalyze the question of what love, actually is, and how it is asking to be expressed.

Learning curves can be amazing teachers that show us what Love is not, and how to recognize it through feeling and reflection.

Sadly though, those same learning curves can also lead to a life time of turmoil and self doubt.  Extra long term baggage.  It is easy for some people to get caught in the eddy of victimhood.  To swirl in an endless circle of self effacing pain.

“No one likes me.”

“I’ll never find love.”

” No one will ever love me.”

“Nothing ever works out for me.”

“I am a failure at life.”

“I am shit.”

“I am ugly and fat.”

“I hate myself.”

“I am so fucked up, no one will ever want to be with me.”

“It’s just the way I am.”

“Nothing will ever change.”

Most of that is spoken through the unhealed wounds of childhood.  The broken inner child whose faith in Love was derailed before it had a chance to mature.

These are the sins of our forefathers and the examples set by our foremothers.

There are people in this world very aware of these facts and products of our history.  These are the people actively seeking to remedy hundreds if not thousands of years of passed down self hating logic.  These are the people seeking to teach the next generation a more positive and fruitful way of living and loving.  I think they will succeed.

As a whole, humanity is sick of oppression both internal and external. We WANT to see the magic in ourselves and each other.  We want to thrive together with out the insanity of comparative competition.  We want to live without the fear of loving ourselves and each other.

Deep down we want what is best for everyone.

Ubuntu.

Advertisements

One thought on “The Twisted Dichotomy of Body Image”

  1. I want to say your words gave me and continue to give me great emotions and they improve my days during my riappropriation of things I strongly denied to myself in the past. Thanks a lot, essence of Madge.
    Ale, Italy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s