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The Pressure to be Thin

Posted Mar 04 2010 9:37pm

Body image, diet pushing Japanese women to lose weight

This article highlights the dangers of the media’s pressure on women to be too thin.  Japanese women are feeling the pressure that American women have experienced for years. Instead of embracing their natural bodies, women around the world are striving to be underweight.

This has serious health implications.  Not only does it drive eating disorders, but it is also correlated with a rise in weight in the general population.  The effect of media is that women learn to dislike their natural forms.

Pressure to diet (which is often disguised as healthy eating) causes people to distrust their body’s ability to regulate itself.  Our bodies are born wanting to be a certain size, and will stay within that range if allowed.  Once dieting and external regulations are used, problems arise.

When you use your head to determine what to eat and how much of it to eat and even when to eat it, you become disconnected from your inner cues. Eating is a biological process, like breathing and going to the bathroom. It does not need the brain to be involved.

In fact, the brain makes things worse.  Due to the overwhelming amount of nutrition advice available, you become paralyzed with confusion. Pretty soon every time you eat you are filled with guilt over your choices.  Feeling bad about your body just perpetuates this cycle.

The problem lies in the thinking, not in our bodies.  Your body is perfect, just as it is. I don’t need to know how much you weigh or what size you wear to come to this conclusion.

It is a waste of life to make your body your focus. If you will listen to your hunger and fullness cues and eliminate guilt, your body will take care of the rest.  It doesn’t need your help or your vigilance.

I think most people would look at this situation with Japanese women and feel sad.  It is such a shame they are not accepting their bodies. You might say their bodies are naturally fine.

Look in the mirror…it is a sad situation here, too. What you may not notice is it is just as much a shame that the American culture has fallen into this trap.  Body dissatisfaction leads to an unhealthy relationship with food.  It makes everything worse.

There is a cool project called Operation Beautiful at  http://operationbeautiful.com/ .  It is guerrilla warfare on negative body image. I encourage you to do it, and in turn, appreciate your own body more.

Research has shown just 15-25 minutes of exposure to TV or magazines has a negative impact on body image. This is because we believe what we see.  Even if it is a lie.

Just Google the term celebrities with eating disorders and you will find an exhaustive list.  The people you are trying to look like either don’t exist or are often using unhealthy measures to be underweight.

If you would like to learn more about body image, you can check out The Body Image Workbook: An Eight-Step Program for Learning to Like Your Looks . I like using this book with clients.  Most importantly remember this:  What you see in the media is unhealthy and is usually not even real.

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