Body Image. A Look at Perception Vs Reality

it's what you see

This is a post that I’ve started to write about a dozen times, each time deleting and starting over.  It’s a tough subject, in part – because I feel a bit hypocritical since I too struggle with this. However, I feel like I need to jump in and write this thing already because it keeps gnawing at me and is dieing to come out!

Body image!  I realize it’s a tired topic, but there’s so much to be dissected here. I want to at least ATTEMPT to tackle this …… issue, …..for lack of a better term.

Let me start off with a story.  Wake up! I’ll keep it short(ish)!

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When I was in 6th grade, I moved to a new school and was having a sleep over with my new friend, Abby. I was blown away by how close she was with her father (in a beautiful way). At one point after confiding in me the identity of her secret crush, she announced “now only you and my father have this classified information!”. Totally baffled and confused, I bursted with, “Huh? What? Come again? Your dad knows? Like, …. you told your DAD about your crush?”. To my surprise, she went on to tell me that she’s close with her dad and tells him EVERYTHING! In fact, she told me she isn’t close with her mom, that her mom isn’t “warm and fuzzy”, and blah blah blah blah….. you get the picture.

See, in MY life, which I just figured was the exact same for everyone ELSE in the world, kids are close and snuggly and gushy with their MOMS. Dads aren’t into kids. They just don’t DO that. You don’t have dialogue with dads cuz they’re too busy, angry, hot-tempered….   but she schooled me that night! THAT was the moment I came to realize that MY experience and MY norm, did not apply to 100% of the population. Wow! My life had been changed at that moment – for the good. And now let me relate that to my “today”, and to YOU – and to why it is SO important that you fully understand and digest this concept…..

Have you ever thought about YOUR reality, and how THAT came to be? Have you ever questioned it? Did your parents obsess over looking like supermodels and berate themselves (in front of you) if they thought they needed to lose a few pounds? OR, did they actually point out pictures of GQ men in magazines and comment that those images were not in fact, reality?

How might you question what you take for granted as TRUTH in order to have achievable and realistic goals? When I work with people who want to achieve supermodel status, reshaping their reality is key. Shooting for an unhealthy and unrealistic body type that can only be achieved in photo shop does NOT lead to a healthy self-esteem.

It is so important when feeling down about your appearance, to really take stock in WHAT IS REAL. I often hear beautiful, healthy women tell me that they cannot even stand to look at themselves undressed. I always ask, “who are you comparing yourself to?”.

So now I ask you! Who the hell are you comparing yourself to? Look around you! Chances are you are NOT the biggest person in the room – AND – people may even kill to have YOUR figure. Just throwing that out there as a possibility. For real though, BECAUSE I hear so many healthy-looking people tell me that they’re so uncomfortable socially due to their weight, I really wonder how their reality came to be. Just like MY upbringing where I was 100% sure that dad’s don’t like kids, what other “REALITIES” might you question? Maybe body image is a good place to start.

(And you know what? What if you ARE the biggest person in the room? Shoot for health and make this your first day of the NEW YOU where you get yourself HEALTHY. Thin naturally follows. And I am happy to help GET you there!)

Another reality check that is so important to note…..  When you DO see people with killer bodies, do you assume they’re happy as can be? Living the perfect lives? Chances are, they have their struggles too and maybe they’d swap struggles with you in a MINUTE!  Obviously everyone has stuff they have to contend with.  That is life.  Choosing to focus on what you need to fix all of the time takes away from the REALITY of what ‘you got goin’ on’. 

One last story and then I’ll let you go. I promise.

Growing up, I had always placed crazy importance on being thin. My mother, a really beautiful and very successful attorney and columnist, stressed appearance to an unhealthy degree. You’d think that being as accomplished as she WAS, that she’d be pushing her daughters’ academics more than our physical appearance.

She was always quick to attribute everything to her children’s weight. If I had a date that was BLAH, she’d say “well Avril, that’s because you can stand to lose a few pounds”. If I had an awesome day at school, she’d say “and you look great! What a figure!”.  My reality was SO THROWN OFF! Everything, good or bad, came down to the number on a scale. It was incredibly F’d UP! Now, as a mom, I can understand why my mother wanted me to be the very best I can be (in EVERY way, and that extends to physical appearance). But seriously? If something doesn’t go my way it’s because I need to lose a few pounds? Yet, that was my reality and I STILL catch myself going to that place when things don’t go well. In reality, sh** happens. And my scale had nothing to do with it. But my GO TO instinct is to think otherwise. Thankfully, I’ve gotten really good at questioning that reality and adjusting accordingly.  Although, as I said…..it’s still a constant struggle.  But being AWARE of this has been a tremendous game-changer in my life.

If you find yourself feeling down about your appearance – or uncomfortable being social, ask yourself this question: Do I look at each person I come across and initially notice and critique their physique? I hope your answer to that is NO (I’m sure there are some YESSES out there tho 😈 ). If not, know that people aren’t seizing YOU up either! You are NOT your weight. And if the answer is YES, you would greatly benefit from really looking into YOUR reality and what shaped YOUR perception of the need to be perfect in this way. 

To sum up… obviously it’s important to keep weight in check for your health.  But if you are uncomfortable socially to the extent that it keeps you from engaging more in life, really try to look at that.  In all aspects of life it’s helpful to be open to the FACT that what is true for you, may not actually be grounded in reality.  (ie – people aren’t all noticing your weight when you enter a room.)  It’s incredibly freeing to be open to looking at what may be perception verses reality – and to apply that questioning any time you are truly conflicted.  Question your expectations of yourself.  And do not compare yourself to others – in order to enjoy being……..uniquely YOU!

That’s it! Now I can move on. Have a great week.

 

 

 

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