This time on CrunchyTales, we take a look in the mirror (and, hopefully, a look inside ourselves) exploring body image, ageing and acceptance. Our special edition supports the Mental Health Awareness Week Campaign; our aim is to help all those ladies fighting with themselves and the way they look.
Whether you find wisdom in Penny Pepper‘s words, enjoy the mindful healing path of Mick Rowe or nurture your soul with a dedicated Poem from Lianne Futia try to make peace with your body and avoid the Midlife Mirror Angst Syndrome, because no matter your age or where you are in life, you can create a positive body image by stopping negative self-talk, treating yourself with the same kindness and compassion that you would a loved one, and focusing on aspects of your body and looks that you do feel satisfied with.
Your body image is the view you have of your own physical features. It includes the actual way you see yourself when you look at your reflection but even more importantly, the inner view you carry around about how you appear to others. Researchers have long understood its relationship to overall feelings of identity. You are, after all, a physical being, and the awareness of how you look becomes intimately tied to your self-concept in general. To feel good about yourself, you need to feel good about your body, not just how you look when you’re dressed.
But how can we fall in love with our body if adverts constantly bombard us on social media, suggestings weight-loss apps and cosmetic procedures, undermining our self-confidence?
Let’s be straight: diets don’t always work, the perfect bodies in magazines are digitally enhanced and very few ladies over 40 looks like Victoria Beckham. However much weight we lose, it will never be enough. The only alternative is to embark on a lifetime of miserable attempts at self-improvement, regularly scattered between binges on fat and the purest despair.
How To Appreciate Your Changing Body
Bodies aren’t meant to stay the same. As we move through different stages of life our hormones alter and our body’s need for fat varies but still, middle-aged women keep fighting against gravity and weight. No matter where you are in your life, you are never too far from beginning a journey of healing and recovery. There is hope in knowing that today can mark the start of making peace with yourself and your body. It is not too late for you to overcome the challenges you may be facing and if you need serious help, seek the counsel of a health professional today, who can help guide you through the process of healing and overcoming poor body image.
Yes, your life is valuable, and it is time for you to understand the depth of your worth and beauty. So let’s get off the scale and write out positive healthy affirmations that can help us build a better body image, enhance our self-esteem, and boost our love, compassion, and respect for ourselves. We have a right to occupy space in this world, we are fantastic and our body deserves to be nourished.
This list of activities and steps to achieving a positive body image comes from the US National Eating Disorders Association and provides several good suggestions to cultivating a positive relationship with your body, including:
- Appreciate all that your body can do
- Keep a top-ten list of things you like about yourself
- Remind yourself that “true beauty” is not simply skin-deep
- Look at yourself as a whole person
- Surround yourself with positive people
- Shut down those voices in your head that tell you your body is not “right” or that you are a “bad” person
- Wear clothes that are comfortable and that make you feel good about your body
- Become a critical viewer of social and media messages
- Do something nice for yourself
- Use the time and energy that you might have spent worrying about food, calories, and your weight to do something to help others
Our bodies hurt, our bodies let us down as we age, our bodies frustrate us, but what an astonishing piece of machinery we are.
For many middle-aged women, poor body image can affect a multitude of things, including your ability to relate to others, intimacy in a relationship, self-esteem and confidence, and much more. Poor body image can increase susceptibility to eating disorders or even be related to a serious condition known as Body Dysmorphic Disorder.
A survey for the Mental Health Foundation found that one in eight adults has thought about killing themselves because they were distressed over their body image. The survey, carried out by YouGov in March, was commissioned to mark the launch of Mental Health Awareness Week, which has the theme of body image this year. Figures were weighted and representative of all UK adults. It found one in three British adults have felt anxious or depressed because of concerns about their body image. Among people aged 55 and above, the figure was one in five. One in 10 women said they had self-harmed or “deliberately hurt themselves” because of their body image, compared with one in 25 men. But there were still significant numbers of men affected, with one in four saying they have felt depressed because of concerns about their body image.
A recent study published in The Journal of Women and Aging investigated body image satisfaction in middle-aged women over 50. Using a sample of almost 1,800 American women, researchers found that just over 12% of the participants reported that they were satisfied with their current body image while 88% were unhappy with their physical appearance (eg. skin, stomach and face).
A Body Positive Poem for you
Athena Grows Grey
by Lianne Futia
Fibrous strands hang proud
But the glisten now slumbers
Downy softness hardened with colour
Sheltered shades of the life and times;
Shackles and chains
Hibernate under autumn browns
Plum, purple, and hot reds
A leaf pile scattering beneath crushed tread
She wonders if it’s her time to shine with
Titanium crown, surety of age and wisdom
To sieve and sift through redundant arrogance of youth
Pave trodden paths sass-infused
Monthly amassed confidence
In colourless stripping back to self
Unmask masked locks, bottled beauty re-shelved
To distant memory of a different effigy
Too poor in thoughts to be adorned with all that glitters
Before this day
Now she dutifully awaits to rule
By word of silvery threads
Of braille and spin of intricate web
Truth reflected in dewy shine
Hanging softly proud from greying silk
With finery and acceptance
Athena, you’ve got this.