On Susun Weed’s Wise Woman Forum, there is sometimes talk about how women feel about their body image. It is such a tragedy that virtually all the women participating say they don’t like the way they look. They feel shame over how they view their bodies. Too fat. Too short. Breasts too big. Breasts too small. Big bellies. Cellulite. Growing old. The list of self-criticism is endless. The shame goes all the way through their souls. They feel they just are not good enough because of the way they look. They feel shame over their looks. Then they feel shame because they are ashamed of the way they look. Shame. Guilt. Despair. All feelings that do nothing but damage the core of a woman’s soul. Why are looks so much more important to society than what is in a person’s heart? I remember when I was a child I too suffered with low self esteem and hating my body and my looks. I was 5’5” and barely weighted 110 pounds and I thought I was fat. I hated the way my belly pouched out. I hated that I was not built like a super model. I hated that I did not weigh less than 100 pounds. I thought if I was thinner and prettier I would have more friends and I would finally be happy. So I starved myself and hated myself and was on a never ending diet for the first forty years of my life. I thought if I could just find a man who thought I was pretty and worthwhile would make me feel pretty and worthwhile. I gave my personal power to others so they could make me feel valuable and worthwhile. Unfortunately I found men who only magnified my feelings of self hatred. I gave them my personal power so they could make me feel valuable and worthwhile. I starved myself to a size five so I would be thin enough for them. I wanted to be as thin and as pretty as all the beautiful women I saw in the media. What a way to spend the first half of my life. Unfortunately I have lots of company. Here is a question recently posted on the Wise Woman Forum:
“So I am standing in front of the mirror yesterday, I have gained 10 lbs. and I feel fat. My stomach is not flat enough, my thigh muscles are undefined. And then comes the guilt, I should not feel this way, I am just a puppet playing intoHollywoodstereotypes. If I were really an enlightened and wise woman I would be able to accept mybodyas beautiful/natural/goddess like. And now I feel even worse, having failed both to meet society's stereotypes and to reject them as well. Is it even possible to be ashamed of your body and ashamed to be ashamed of your body at the same time? I feel like on one hand, I am being told that I am not thin enough, my stomach is not flat enough, and my hips are too big. I feel ashamed of my body the way it is. We all know now as women that these are messages we are bombarded with, but is it any better, any more reasonable to tell ourselves that we should be able to ignore this constant bombardment and rise above it to accept ourselves? Or is it just one more on top of a list of unreasonable expectations that we as women to try to meet?”
While I have finally reached a point where I finally realize the impossible standard society has set for women, it is hard to undo decades of negative conditioning. While I know I am not fat and ugly, I sometimes still feel like I am, especially when I see the ideal in the media or when I’m out in public. It is a knee jerk reaction to decades of negative conditioning. One of the responses to this post gave me an ‘Ah-HA’ moment that I would like to share:
“Over and over I kept hearing the phrase *a woman's problem areas--the tummy, hips, and thighs.* and then I remembered ancient fertility goddess images--big belly, hips, and thighs. And I was like *wait a second!* and I realized that women don't have 'problem areas'--that these are culturally created in the modern era. These areas are naturally curvy, voluptuous, etc. and even my own muscle shape depicts this. “
Of course women are going to be curvy in the ‘problem’ areas. It is our sacred duty to carry and protect the unborn in our wombs! Our bodies put more padding in these areas to ensure the protection of the children we are carrying/going to carry in our bodies. Our ‘problem’ areas are Nature’s way of protecting the unborn and ourselves. How has that become something undesirable? Something ugly? Why do we women believe it? Why do men? There was a time when luscious, curvy women were reveled and considered the ideal. One can see this in the paintings of the great artists such as Michelangelo. What happened to that ideal? When did stick thin, anorexic women/girls become the ideal? When will women take back their power and stop feeding into all the negative hype and crap society feeds us? We are the way we are for a reason. A sacred reason. Not to be eye-candy for the opposite sex. Not to be pleasing for a materialistic, superficial, and phony society. Not to conform to an impossible and unhealthy ideal. When will women stop chasing a sick fantasy? When will women redirect all the energy they pour into trying to achieve the impossible, to changing the world for the better? When will we use all that energy to end war, child abuse and violence? We could literally change the world if we would pour all that energy into worthwhile causes instead of into beating ourselves up over our looks! What a complete and total waste of valuable energy! We have the power to change the world. Instead, we use our own power against ourselves and each other. I now weigh about 145 pounds. My job keeps my muscles relatively toned. I eat healthy (for the most partJ). I sometimes still struggle accepting the way my stomach pooches but I can now catch my negative thinking and I can change my thoughts. When I change my thoughts I change my life. Now there more are days when I feel I am pretty and ‘not fat.’ I use to dread turning forty. How silly of me! Now I LOVE being forty and menopausal! I feel better about my looks today than I did when I was at my thinnest, and the wisdom I have gained over the years is worth more than my previous size five figure. And that feeling is priceless.