Can you think of a time when you felt judged about your physical appearance? If you’re like many people, you can remember one stabbing comment, one painful glare or a debilitating teasing episode that scarred you for life. I recently had an in-depth conversation with my friend and trainer Dara Mazzie about one simple yet at the same time very complicated question: “Why do so many people care so much about the size of the pants, the number on the scale, or the flatness of the belly?” Why has this become such an obsession? What does it all mean?
One of my clients was spot on when she recommended I read Ashley Judd’s recent editorial in The Daily Beast. This beautiful and talented woman, one of my favorite actors whom I’ve admired for over 15 years, was torn apart by media critics and mainstream news outlets for appearing ‘puffy’. She was accused of “clearly having had work done” to her face, when in fact she stated the truth is she was on steroid treatment for an illness and had gained some weight over the winter.
If you haven’t read her article – and you’re a person who buys gossip magazines and absorbs what the media throws at you (I plead guilty to both) – I strongly suggest you read it. I just want you to stop for 5 minutes and let yourself understand how messed up it is – everything that is now so normal, so acceptable, so EVERYWHERE.
Our society is OUT OF CONTROL with the disgusting critical opinions, and profits from lies/opinions about who has gained too much weight, who is too thin, who has too many wrinkles or dimples on her thighs. Who are we F-ing kidding?? Not one of us reading any of this bull is perfect. Not one of those reporters or editors could stand up to their own outrageous standards that are placed on not only celebrities, but on normal, everyday people just like you and I. And the worst, most damaging part about all of this, is that over time we have come to believe it all – every last word and photoshopped image. We have grown as a society to believe (or subconsciously believe) that to be thin enough, young enough and rich enough is what we should strive for – and that, my friends, keeps you paralyzed from living your full life. I used to be as obsessed as it gets – with the ideal, the perfect body, the dieting. I get it and I get how it feels to be in deep.
It is your choice to decide to push back from what is out there. Stop buying and reading the Stars and US Weekly’s. Stop talking fat-talk and stop pinning pro-ana images. Cut short the conversations among friends when they turn to body bashing and physical critiquing. You don’t have to live in that world if you don’t want to.
Share with young girls and teens this short yet powerful video about media exposure and it’s effect on a young, impressionable person after leafing through a fashion magazine for 3 minutes.
Now, keep in mind, I’m writing this from LA, and I realize that there are many people who may not be as entrenched in this dark cloud as we are here in Southern California. I do know; however, that the women and men I work with every day are damaged, struggling, and trying to dig their ways back out from underneath all this mess. It can truly cause you to lose your sense of self, your self-respect, your confidence and your health. That’s all I need to know to get a little fired up after reading Ashley Judd’s message.
If you’re also driven to change all this madness, leave a comment and share with us your thoughts on how we can choose to live in a world that’s less concerned with body size and appearance and more focused on happiness, health and learning to thrive.
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