As your local weight loss clinic, we think it’s important to address ‘Body kindness.’ This is a term we hear left and right, night and day, in our world today. But do we truly understand what it means and how essential it is to invest in our own body kindness? We typically view our bodies in two ways: 1) how our body looks and 2) what our bodies can do. The topic of body kindness affects both men and women alike. While this is a universal struggle, there is an unfortunate prevalence of this concept among the female demographic. And here’s why…
The Impact of Cultural Imaging and Beauty Sickness
Women, specifically, are much more likely than men to be targeted by body kindness antagonists. Consequently, it is more often women who must endure the lifelong toll it can take on their bodies and spirit. This heavy toll is all thanks to what we call cultural imaging and a concept known as ‘beauty sickness.’ This refers to what happens when a woman’s emotional energy gets so tied up with what they see in the mirror that it becomes harder for them to see other aspects of their life. Even if women know at their core that they are smart, strong, and can achieve anything, beauty sickness can become a set of blinders that keep them from focusing on their deepest values. Most of our society seems designed to cause confusion or doubt with regard to these values or the truths we hold dear. We begin to question those values when what we ought to be striving for is the assurance that our body is not for looking at; our body is for doing things.
Startling Statistics and Real Consequences
It’s easy to feel alone in our bodies and struggles, but the reality is that we’ve likely hopped on the same bandwagon as most other women. In fact, 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies. 1 in 3 young women are also highly concerned with how their body looks. 58% of college-aged women feel pressured to be a certain weight. Did you know that body size is the number one obsession of women? Or that 54% of women would rather be hit by a truck than be fat? These statistics are shockingly high when we remember that only 5% of the population naturally possess a body that meets cultural beauty standards. These numbers are heartbreaking, especially because most of the women who embody them have a cognitive understanding of how wrong this way of thinking is. We know that women on TV have spent hours having their hair and makeup done by professionals. We know images are perfected by Photoshop. We know that the 5% of women who fit into our current beauty standards are statistical outliers (not to exclude their feelings around their own body confidence, either). Yet there remains a profound struggle to both acknowledge and accept that it is okay to look different.
Now, these statistics go far beyond being shocking numbers on a page. They lead to very real, very palpable consequences in how women use their time, their resources, and their lives. 90% of cosmetic procedures are performed on women. Most beauty advertisements are targeted toward women. Women are also 10 times more likely to develop an eating disorder than men. Quantifying these realities is vital to developing a better understanding of how body messaging affects us. The impact has far more gravity than just impacting weight loss journeys; this is about real women and real lives.
The Beauty Sickness Spectrum
This journey is not black and white, either. There is a beauty sickness spectrum, ranging from minor body discomfort to psychologically diagnosable body dysmorphia. Women, starting from a young age, will respond in varying degrees of severity as society subjects them to forms of sexism and expectations of what a ‘woman’ ought to be. While men are subject to similar pressures, women are notably more likely to receive comments on their appearance, their clothes, their hair, their choice of beauty products, their weight loss, etc. This commentary on their outward appearance insinuates a complete lack of regard for their knowledge, talents, or abilities. The intentional targeting of young women in magazines, advertising, and social media implies a contorted notion that “if you buy this product, you will finally feel normal.”
Sexual and emotional trauma also plays a hefty role. Adverse childhood events and abuse will cause women to pursue options that reestablish control over their own bodies. Emotional eating, weight gain, and eating disorders can also be manifestations of an abusive past. Other common manifestations include frequently checking your body in the mirror, keeping tabs on how clothes fit, and even pinching areas you want to change. More serious manifestations include restricted eating (especially for reasons other than health), avoiding social situations, avoiding intimate situations, and experiencing embarrassment or shame in relation to your appearance. Even with these telltale signs of beauty sickness, women tend to internalize these symptoms as a coping mechanism to maintain control.
Unveiling the Control: Choosing Your Ideal
The first step to making change is recognizing that we have control over where we stand on the beauty sickness spectrum. Take a step back and focus on the inside first. Ask yourself, what does “ideal” look like for you? Will losing that 5 lbs. really improve your life and bring you happiness? Will larger breasts and curvier hips make you more lovable, likable, and respectable? The cold, hard reality is that the opposite is typically true. Whether consciously or unconsciously, any belief or hope that looking prettier will fix your problems is a blatant perpetuation of what we hate in our culture. Beauty sickness consumes us, and we recoil at its power over us, yet we are the ones who ultimately allow it to thrive within us.
Rewriting the Internal Mantra: Transitioning to Body Kindness
Overcoming such an intangible sickness starts with the basics. Knowing how harsh and cruel your self-judgment can be, consider whether you would ever say these things to your best friend. The answer is most likely a resounding ‘no.’ So why are we so quick to bash ourselves? This is a form of abuse and self-abuse. What we think and say about ourselves, if said and thought about often enough, will become our grounding beliefs. These beliefs can be changed and rewritten, but only if we change our internal mantra. Think of your true values rather than those of the world. What do you hold dear? What is truly important to you? Allow those answers to guide how you feel about yourself.
Embracing the Journey: Body Kindness and Authenticity
We want you to try your best to transition away from all negative thoughts toward your bodies. Whether it’s a thought, a phrase, or a belief. These distortions and ideas of what the “perfect body” is were created by a handful of individuals and have changed over the years. Choosing to shame yourself in long-term change or self-acceptance will never work and never has. The world you see through the lenses of beauty sickness is not reality. Let’s start giving ourselves and future generations a chance to feel good in our own skin. Remind yourself often that you are a long way from who you were as a child. Yes, childhood experiences have contributed to who we are, but they do not limit who we still have the potential to become. Remember, you are a spiritual being having a mortal journey. We overly identify with our bodies and too often cast aside the spirit. Like it or not, you will age, sag, and wrinkle. But this is only a temporary state. As you begin your journey of body kindness, it is crucial that the spirit changes first, or at least simultaneously with, the body. We are here for a mental, physical, and spiritual journey that must be honored, regardless of how our path unfolds. Be kind to your body because, at the end of the day, it has nothing to do with how we look. What others see when they look at us will ultimately be determined by who we are.
Learn to love yourself. Learn to offer yourself grace. Know that this journey will be hard but worth it. We are all strong individuals with emotional needs that take a lifetime to navigate. Do not forget that beyond accepting your shape, size, and features, body kindness also focuses on health and functionality, coming out on top of appearance. Our health is the most important thing we have. Find what grounds you to what is most important and contributes to the core of who you are. Get outside in nature, spend time with family, record moments of increased wisdom, and devote your energy to nourishing the love in your life. Doing so will set in motion a liberating recovery from beauty sickness and allow you to live as your most authentic self.
Have You Been Struggling To Lose Weight? Dr. Kells’ Weight Loss Clinic Can Help!
Here at Dr. Kells’ DC, Weight Loss, we understand that it can seem daunting to tackle a weight loss program on your own. Having a partner to support you through the journey can make all the difference in helping you stay motivated and driven as you set your goals. That is why our clinic offers medical weight loss programs that don’t involve dangerous dieting fads or stressful exercise regimes. Rather than providing a generic program for every patient, our staff takes the time to get to know each individual’s lifestyle and needs to develop an effective weight loss plan tailored specifically for them – one designed with achievable goals and lasting results.
What is our approach to healthy weight loss?
- Meal Planning (smaller meals, avoiding prepackaged foods, etc.)
- Diet Plans Focusing on Nutritious Foods
- Detecting Hormone Imbalances
- Addressing Toxicity
- And much more!
With our help, even clients that have struggled with attempts at weight loss in the past are able to find success through commitment and dedication!
If you are ready to transform your life, you can schedule an appointment online or call us at: