Posts Categorized: body image

This Week I Love …

… this quote that perfectly summarizes both how the press writes about powerful women, and how pointless it is for any of us to get all judgy about how women look or what they choose to wear.

 

“You may not agree with a woman, but to criticize her appearance — as opposed to her ideas or actions — isn’t doing anyone any favors, least of all you. Insulting a woman’s looks when they have nothing to do with the issue at hand implies a lack of comprehension on your part, an inability to engage in high-level thinking. You may think she’s ugly, but everyone else thinks you’re an idiot.”

~ Hillary Clinton

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Fear Not the Jiggle

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I wear shapewear. Not often, but I do. I’ve got a few clingy, slinky, jersey-knit dresses that show every crinkle and dimple in my backside, and I just feel more confident wearing them after I’ve shoehorned myself into … well, let’s just call a spade a spade … my girdle.

I wear compression-based fitness clothes. I don’t actively seek them out, but my preferred brands just include that feature for most of their pants. And some tops. And mostly it just makes me feel like I’m wearing extremely tight stuff when I exercise, but it also adds a bit of welcome firmness.

I wear bras. And yeah, I know that bras are essentially a social must for many women, but here’s the thing: My boobs don’t drape. If you try that whole “tuck a pencil under ’em” test on me, my boobs and I will LAUGH at you as the pencil plummets to the floor. If I didn’t have perpetually perky nipples, I could probably go braless and no one would be the wiser. But I like the girls to feel secure and supported. (Those are the lingerie-industry-sanctioned terms, right?)

In my opinion, looking good is essentially useless if you don’t feel good, too. If you go through the motions of getting gussied, but you feel uncomfortable or anxious or fraudulent, you’ll never look as smashing as you would if you felt comfortable, confident, and like a gloriously gussied version of yourself. And the fact is that shape wear and compression and lingerie can help make an otherwise panic-inducing dress feel natural. Gorgeous, even.

The dark side of these items is that they teach us to fear and loathe The Jiggle. There is a big, powerful, money-making industry out there based on Jiggle Fear. It gives us products that eliminate “back fat.” It gives us creams that supposedly alleviate the appearance of cellulite. It gives us Control Top Pantyhose. There are so many products out there designed to keep The Jiggle to a minimum and so many messages about how The Jiggle is shameful, disgraceful, awful.

But friends, humans jiggle. And, generally speaking, women jiggle more than men. Our anatomy has several features that are delightfully, naturally jiggly, and there’s no denying it. But regardless of sex, gender, and anatomy, we are not carved from marble, we are not made entirely from hard muscle and taut sinew, we are not meant to appear as still photographs of ourselves when we are in motion. And, perhaps most importantly, we are not all lithe teenagers and we are not all slender. Jiggle Fear is tied directly to Age Fear and Fat Fear, both of which are extremely effective tools for oppressing women, instilling the belief that diversity is undesirable and bodies should all be exactly the same.

So what do we do? Do we embrace The Jiggle with open arms, and wear our clingy, slinky, jersey-knit dresses sans shape wear even if it makes us feel afraid and miserable? Do we accept Jiggle Fear as relatively harmless and keep our personal jiggle perpetually in check? I don’t think there’s a single, sweeping answer that can be applied to every person and ever situation. I honestly don’t. Again, you must feel confident and fabulous in your clothes, and if some Jiggle mitigation furthers that goal, I can understand that. Each person must deal with The Jiggle one situation at a time, and own that process.

But the next time a new product is developed to quash The Jiggle, the next time you see your own Jiggle and feel anxiety or loathing, the next time you overhear someone kvetching about “bingo wings” or “fat rolls,” just remember: Humans jiggle. Natural, normal, nothing to be ashamed of.

This is a refreshed and revived post from the archive
Image courtesy (who else?) Spanx

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Find the Why

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Learning to quiet or cease negative self-talk is a worthy goal, but it can be a lot harder to reach if you attack it without any background information. Do you know when you started hearing these hurtful things rattling around in your head? Do they come louder or more frequently at certain times or around certain people? Why do you think your internal monologue sounds this way?

Finding the why of negative behaviors can be a long, challenging process, but it’s nearly always worthwhile. Margarita Tartakovsky has a fabulous suggestion for kick-starting the process in a gentle, caring way.

Instead of getting frustrated with our bodies, our reactions or our feelings, we can get curious. Instead of berating ourselves, we can dig deeper. We can explore why we’re having certain emotions and reactions. We can scour our mistakes for lessons. 

I love the concept of curiosity because it’s a powerful way to engage with ourselves and our environment. When we’re curious, we’re more present. We’re more open to learning. We get to know our needs. We get to know ourselves. We can use the information we learn to truly nourish ourselves.

The great thing is that we know how to be curious. We perfected it as kids. All of us. We tried to get to the bottom of mystifying things. We persisted until we knew the facts, until we understood. And, today, we can sharpen our sense of curiosity. We can cultivate a thirst for new knowledge and insight.

She goes on to list more than 20 exploratory questions that can be used to examine our histories, motives, and influences. Questions like, “What have I learned from the times I haven’t treated myself well?” and “What does my inner critic usually say when I try something new?” Even taking the time to address two or three of these questions could provide insights that would otherwise remain buried or obscured.

Sometimes it takes a helpful therapist or trusted friend to find the why. Sometimes it takes many months or years to find the why. But even if you need a guide for a journey that proves to be long, you can take the first steps yourself. You can begin the process of understanding your reasons for negative self-talk.

What are you criticizing yourself for today that you can get curious about instead?

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