Saturday, July 18, 2009

Self Image - Body Image.

Lets take a break from all the really interesting stuff, like diet and exercise and get serious. I am sure you found those stats particularly interesting, but it is time to discuss the real issues.

Today, I want to talk about self image and body image because in my opinion the two go hand in hand and I am wise in such matters.

As you can probably tell I have a pretty good self image, I am pretty comfortable in my skin and generally like myself. I am after all a 5 foot 2 Amazon, what isn't there to like?

I guess, I have few different self images. There is of course the "mum" image of myself, the "wife", the "daughter", the "sucessful career woman" image. Yeah I have a few, I have listed all my favourite ones because I feel pretty good about those ones.

I have a few unfavourite ones, the "selfish fat bitch" one for instance. The "mentally disturbed, nobody could love me" one. I don't really want to list all of negative ones. They make me feel ick just thinking of listing them, but they are there.

So, I have a few images of myself, with those images I build a picture of what that person looks like. That is my Body image.

Now if I paid particular notice to my self images that were negative, I might not think that I should look attractive. I might think that I should have greasy hair and be fat because I don't like myself.

Lets say that I do have greasy hair and I am fat and I have these negative thoughts about who I am, that say I am bad, that I am selfish and that I am fat. Sure enough when I look in the mirror, I look like that person.

The way I look reinforces that negative self image. More importantly the people I meet, see me this way and will treat me like that sort of person. Again reinforcing my negative self image.

So lets say, you finally bite the bullet and lose the weight, but don't do anything about the way you feel about yourself. You look in the mirror and you now don't look like the person you think you are. This could be a good thing. Your appearance no longer reinforces your negative self image and you might start to think of yourself in a positive way. This is what I tend to do, being the model of great mental health, Amazons don't hate themselves (much).

But, some people have such little self confidence that they just don't believe what they see.
This is really unhealthy, the worst. It can lead to eating disorders or unconsciously sabotaging all your good work. The way we treat ourselves is reflected in the way we look.

So what am I trying to say?

You need to have a positive self image. You need to feel good about yourself. This doesn't necessarily happen before you lose weight (or gain weight or whatever you are changing), but if you are going to keep it off you need to have a positive self image.

My problem wasn't that I had a bad self image, not always anyway. Positive self image didn't stop me from being overweight. I was pretty happy with my self and my life, until I saw a picture of myself and then I was saddened. Not because I looked unattractive, but because I didn't look like how I thought I looked. I didn't look like the person I felt like.

Around this time I had just had my second child. I strongly identified with being a mother and being maternal and caring. I had an image in my mind of what that would look like. It wasn't slim as such, but it was curving and voluptuous. Nigella Lawson is a pretty good example of how I wanted to look.

Did I mention, that I have size A breasts? For those of you who don't know Australian measurements, that means I have teeny tiny boobs.

For the longest time I wanted to lose a bit of weight and get breast implants, so that my body image reflected my self image. For about 10 years I wanted bigger breasts. Even when I was down to my ideal weight, I still wanted bigger breasts. I am after all a bottom heavy kind a gal.

You know what, if I had the money I would have done it and I think it is perfectly acceptable to get plastic surgery to make the changes to your body, that you can't get any other way, so that your outside matches your inside. So that you look like who you are.

Strange thing is just recently I haven't wanted breast implants any more.

Two things changed. Firstly, I have been able to maintain my ideal body weight improving, the way I look and improving my mood.

The second thing is; My self image has changed. I am now connecting more to the Tom Boy inside of me. The girl who loves to play with action figures, is good at math and is now in the army.

I don't want to be the mother figure anymore, now I want to look more like Zeva from NCIS.

No oversized mamory glands there.

Which makes me think, so while it is ok to get plastic surgery if there is no other way to look like the person you are, perhaps you should also consider changing your self image slightly.

You think you are sex on legs, but you don't have the legs? Perhaps you need to see yourself more as a Marilyn-esque style siren or let go of that image altogether, surely you have worth other than being sexy?

Body image is all about being yourself. Self image is all about choosing to be your greatest self.

Those inner demons that tell us we aren't beautiful or aren't deserving of being beautiful need to be exorcised. Do they have priests for that?

"My name is Father Dominique, I am here to tell you that you are beautiful, you are kind, you are smart and you don't need chocolate to help you get over a heartbreak."

No, I guess they don't.

How we feel about ourselves determines how well we treat ourselves. How we treat ourselves changes the way we look. How we look affects our body image and how we feel about our body image affects how we feel about ourselves. It's one big circle or is it a spiral? Either way we get to choose which direction we head in and you can change direction at any of the points.

Know yourself, your true self. Love yourself. Be your greatest self, don't settle for less. Be prepared to learn.

I said I was wise. Wise as a woman who has stuggled with her body image since she was in puberty.

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