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Deborah Bailey

It’s My Time Now Life Coaching


Body Image
Body image involves our perception, imagination,
emotions and physical sensations of and about Body image is:
our bodies. It’s not static but ever changing; • How you see yourself when you
sensitive to changes in mood, environment, and look in the mirror or when you
physical experience. It’s not based on fact. It’s
psychological in nature, and much more picture yourself in your mind
influenced by self-esteem than by actual physical • What you believe about your
attractiveness as judged by others. It’s not inborn, own appearance (including
but learned. This learning occurs in the family
and among peers, but these only reinforce what
memories, assumptions and
is learned and expected culturally. generalizations)
• How you feel about your body,
When you look in the mirror, what do you see? including your height, weight,
Your perception of how your body looks forms
your body image. Interestingly, a perfectly-toned and shape
20 year old fitness model could have a very poor • How you sense and control
body image, while an average-shaped 50 year your body as you move…how
old man or woman could have a great body
image. Regardless of how closely your actual
you feel in your body, not just
figure resembles your perception, your body about your body
image can affect your self-esteem, your eating • How you feel others perceive
and exercise behaviors, and your relationships you
with others.

Here are some staggering statistics:

• 80% of women are dissatisfied with their bodies and appearance
• 63% of women identified weight as biggest factor in how they feel about themselves
• 38% of men and 69% of women are dieting
• 98% of all dieters gain the weight back after 5 years (if not incorporate exercise and life style
• 25% of all dieters progress to an eating disorder
• The average model is 5’10 and weighs 110 pounds
• The average women is 5’4” and weights 149 pounds
• Only 4% of women are genetically predisposed to what the media shows as the ideal body

Notes for Deborah’s 9/04/08 Summer of Support Meeting Segment Page 1 of 9

Deborah Bailey
It’s My Time Now Life Coaching


Body Image
• The media is the main source of information
feeding how women feel about their bodies Body Image Questionnaire:
• 1 out of every 3.8 advertisements sends
some kind of “attractiveness message” telling 1. Have you avoided sports or working
us what is or is not attractive and will land us out because you didn’t want to be
the perfect job, mate, and happiness seen in gym clothes?
• Cosmetic surgery procedures have increased 2. Does eating even a small amount of
by 457% in the last 10 years food make you feel fat?
• $13.2 billion was spent on cosmetic
3. Do you avoid going places because
procedures in the US last year
you feel fat or don’t have anything
• 1.1 million men had cosmetic procedures in
you like that fits to wear?
• The diet industry is over $100 billion a year 4. Do you worry or obsess about your
body not being small, thin or good
5. Are you concerned your body is not
Why are so many people unhappy with
muscular or strong enough?
their bodies?
6. Do you avoid wearing certain clothes
Size Prejudice because they make you feel fat?
7. Do you wear certain clothes to hide
the fact that you think you are fat?
8. Do you feel badly about yourself
In American culture, there is a lot of emphasis because you don’t like your body?
placed on body weight, size, and appearance. 9. Do you dislike your body?
We are conditioned from a very young age to 10.Do you want to change something
believe that self-worth is derived from these about your body?
external characteristics. For example, being 11.Do you compare yourself to others
thin and/or muscular is associated with being and “come up short?”
“hard-working, successful, popular, beautiful,
strong, and self-disciplined.” On the other
If you answered yes to 3 or more of
hand, being “fat” is associated with being “lazy,
ignorant, hated, ugly, weak, and lacking will-
these questions, you may have a
power.” These stereotypes are prevalent in our negative body
society; and they are reinforced by the media, image.

Notes for Deborah’s 9/04/08 Summer of Support Meeting Segment Page 2 of 9

Deborah Bailey
It’s My Time Now Life Coaching


Body Image
our family and friends, and even well-respected health professionals. As a result, we often unfairly
judge others and label them based on their weight and size alone. We feel great anxiety and
pressure to achieve and/or maintain a very lean physique. And, we believe that if we can just be
thinner or more muscular, we can be happier, more successful, and more accepted by society.

The Media
The media sets unrealistic standards for what body weight and appearance is considered “normal.”
Girls are indoctrinated at a very young age that Barbie is how a woman is supposed to look (i.e. no
fat anywhere on your body, but huge breasts). NOTE: If Barbie were life-size, she would stand
5’9” and weigh 110 lb. (only 76% of what is considered a healthy weight for her height). Her
measurements would be 39-18-33, and she would not menstruate due to inadequate levels of fat
on her body. Similarly, boys are given the impression that men naturally have muscles bulging all
over their bodies. Take a look at their plastic action-figures (like GI Joe Extreme) in toy stores. If
GI Joe Extreme were life-size, he would have a 55-inch chest and a 27-inch bicep. In other words,
his bicep would be almost as big as his waist and bigger than most competitive body builders’.
These body ideals are reinforced every day on TV shows, movies, magazine covers, and even
video games.

And the media’s portrayal of what is “normal” keeps getting thinner and thinner for women and
more muscular and ripped for men. Twenty-five years ago, the average female model weighed 8%
less than the average American woman. Currently, the average female model weighs 23% below
her average weight. Similar trends are seen with men. The average Playgirl centerfold man has
shed about 12 lbs. of fat, while putting on approximately 27 lb. of muscle over the past 25 years.

With these media images and body ideals, it’s little wonder that women and men feel inadequate,
ashamed, and dissatisfied with how they look. Only about 5% of women have the genetic make up
to ever achieve the ultra-long and thin model body type so pervasive in the media. Yet that is the
only body type that women see and can compare themselves to. Similarly, all boys see is a body
ideal that for most men is impossible to achieve without illegal anabolic steroids. There is a
physiological limit to how much muscle a man can attain naturally, given his height, frame, and
body fat percentage. Unfortunately, however, the action figure heroes on toy store shelves and
male fitness models on magazine covers and ads suggest otherwise.

Notes for Deborah’s 9/04/08 Summer of Support Meeting Segment Page 3 of 9

Deborah Bailey
It’s My Time Now Life Coaching


Body Image
Early Family messages
You may feel great pressure to be thin or super muscular in order to be accepted by your peers and
attractive to potential romantic partners. Your mother, or other family member, may have negatively
influenced your self-image while you were growing up by making constant comments about her own
weight (or yours) and enforcing lots of food restrictions on herself (or you). Early on, you may have
gotten the message that you need to be thin in order to be accepted and loved by your parents.

Beauty & Attractiveness

While body size and shape certainly contribute to physical
attractiveness, they are not the only factors, and they
A DIFFERENT certainly are not the most important ones! How you
present yourself in social settings also plays a big role.
WAY TO LOOK Are you outgoing and upbeat, with a friendly smile and
welcoming posture that attracts people to you? Do you
AT YOURSELF dress to impress, have a unique style, stand tall, and
carry yourself with pride and confidence? All of these
characteristics also contribute to your physical

Imagine a pair of twins standing across the room. One is smiling and dancing and exuding a sense
of confidence and openness. The other is standing with his/her arms crossed and has a disgusted,
angry expression on his/her face. Which one would you think was more attractive?

It's not uncommon for people to think that they would be so much happier if only they could lose
weight or have a more muscular physique. After all, our society equates thinness and extreme
leanness with happiness. Logically then, people turn to diets as the solution to all their life problems.
Unfortunately, however, weight is not the problem, and dieting is not the answer. True happiness
comes from within. It comes from nurturing your soul and spirit with healthy relationships,
communication, boundary setting, and relaxation. While finding true happiness internally can often
result in better self-care of the external body (i.e. healthier eating and physical activity patterns),
focusing only on the self-care of the external body will do nothing to heal the inside pain.

Notes for Deborah’s 9/04/08 Summer of Support Meeting Segment Page 4 of 9

Deborah Bailey
It’s My Time Now Life Coaching


Body Image
What can you do to improve your body image?

• De-emphasize weight. Don’t get hung up on numbers. Weight doesn’t tell you much. Is it
muscle, bone, or fat? Muscle weighs more than fat. Weight isn’t the best indicator of health or
fitness. Your eating habits, exercise patterns, and other lifestyle choices are more important.
Weight doesn’t define who you are or what you are worth as a person.

• There is no such thing as one “ideal body weight” based on your height. Each one of us has a
healthy weight based on our body type, bone structure, muscle mass, genetics, what weight we
feel our best at, and what weight our body tends to want to maintain at.

• There is a physiological limit to how muscular you can get naturally. Many of the super-muscular
male bodies you see in the media are just the products of drugs. It is not possible to be that
muscular and that lean without chemical assistance. Instead of thinking of it as a limit, think of it
as your personal best.

• Realize that you cannot change your body type. Learn to love and respect your body and to
work with what you have.

• Invest time and money in yourself, rather than the diet and supplement industry. Spend your
extra money on flattering clothes, fitness equipment, haircuts, massages, and other personal
indulgences--not on diets.

• Focus on how your clothes fit and how you feel. If you keep trying to achieve an unrealistically
low body weight for you, you’re setting yourself up for failure, depression, disordered eating, and
decreased quality of life.

• Stop comparing yourself to others.

• Celebrate your body and the marvelous things it can do when you are fit and well-nourished. So
often, we take these things for granted.

• Move and enjoy your body. Go walking, swimming, biking, and dancing. Do yoga, aerobics, and
weight training…. not because you have to, but because it makes you feel strong and energized.

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Deborah Bailey
It’s My Time Now Life Coaching


Body Image
• Surround yourself with people who have a healthy relationship with food, weight, and their
bodies. It will make a difference in how you feel about yourself. Also, remember to set a good
example for others by refraining from “fat talk” when you’re with friends and family.

• Stop your negative thoughts and statements about yourself. Focus on what you love about
yourself. Compliment yourself. Talk to your body the way you would talk to a good friend.

• Reclaim your own inner strength. Focus on the unique qualities and personality traits that make
you a special and successful person.

• Nurture your inner self. Enjoy things you find relaxing (e.g. music, bubble baths, fragrances,
candles, massages, reading, writing, napping), be close to nature (e.g. garden, sunsets, beach,
stars), and/or seek spiritual connection (e.g. prayer, meditation, inspirational reading, reflection).
Feeling good on the inside is key to feeling good on the outside.

• Examine the degree to which your self-esteem depends upon your appearance. Although it may
seem natural to wish you looked like a fashion model or a body builder, basing your happiness
on this desire may lead to failure. Unrealistic goals can prevent you from exploring ways to
enhance your life.

• Broaden your perspective. Talk to people you trust, read books about body image, or write in a
journal. These activities may help you to recognize emotionally destructive thoughts and put
body image into perspective.

• Recognize that “fat-ism” is a form of discrimination similar to sexism, racism, and classism.
Assumptions that body shape determines attractiveness, personality, and success are incorrect
and unjust. Combat discrimination when possible. Question assumptions and generalizations
which promote the belief that one “type” of person is better than another.

• Try becoming more present in your body, more inside your own skin. Take a deep breath and
feel your feet on the floor, your butt on the chair, the way your ribcage moves as you breathe.
Really notice how you feel. Try to eat mindfully—notice the food in your mouth, the flavor and
texture, how it feels when it goes down your throat and into your stomach. You may want to take
a meditation or tai chi class, or try exercising or stretching, and noticing how you feel in your

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Deborah Bailey
It’s My Time Now Life Coaching


Body Image
body. Being connected to your body can help diminish the distance that allows you to criticize
your body, or see it as other.

• Surround yourself with positive images of women that reflect the different sizes and shapes
women are. It's important to have images that reflect the reality of women's different sizes and
shapes, and that show the beauty of those different sizes and shapes. To change the way you
see your body, it's important to see different images of women's bodies, not the unrealistic
images that the media presents us with.

• Try to limit the number of negative messages you receive about your body. This means keeping
away from many fashion and "women's" magazines, and advertisements. Try reading magazines
and books that make you feel good about who you are, instead of magazines that try to diminish
you or make you panic so you run out and buy a product. You may also want to tape TV shows
and fast forward the ads, or turn off the sound and not watch while they are playing. And if there
are people who repeatedly give you negative messages, try talking to them about this, or finding
ways to ignore them or to counteract their messages inside your head.

• Find and wear clothes that compliment the body size and shape you have, not the body size or
shape that you want. Wearing clothes that fit your body type, that you are comfortable in, and
that make you look good, can help you feel good. External beauty is not about body size. Any
body size can look beautiful, and many women that society would label "beautiful" have major
issues and hang ups about their bodies. External beauty is more about how we carry ourselves,
and how we feel about ourselves. And true beauty, the beauty that matters the most, is the
beauty of our souls.

• Remember a moment when you were a child, when you felt good about your body, or a part of
your body, no matter how small that moment was. Really remember how good you felt. Try to
recapture that feeling in things you do now. Did you love how your body felt, so free and alive, as
you ran across a field? Run to the bus stop, feel the wind against your face, really be in the
moment. Or go running in a park on the weekend or at lunch. Did you love the feeling of
snuggling under a warm blanket on a cold night or sipping a cold drink on a hot one? Make time
for that, and try to be present in your body, enjoying the sensation.

• Make sure you get safe touch that feels good. Hold hands with a child, a friend, your lover. Ask
for a hug or give one. Ask your lover to stroke your hair or gently touch your face. Lean against

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Deborah Bailey
It’s My Time Now Life Coaching


Body Image
your friend. Safe touch is a way to nurture your body and your emotions—and it can help you feel
good about yourself and your body. There have been lots of studies that show we need positive
physical touch; it's part of staying healthy.

• Treat your body gently, the way you would treat someone you love. The way we treat ourselves
can impact how we feel. Let yourself have those extra few minutes in bed in the morning, or
linger over a cup of tea. Have a hot relaxing bath or shower, spend calm moments in nature, get
a massage, use essential oils or natural creams that make you feel good. Really pamper
yourself, and notice how you feel in your body as you do so.

• Pay attention to an area of your body that you like, and focus on that for as long as you can. This
can be something as small as your nose, or as large as your whole body. Look at that part of
your body, touch that area of your body gently, and let yourself see its beauty. Think of that area
of your body often, with pride or good feeling, and gradually try to increase the amount of your
body that you like.

• Make a list of all the ways your body has helped you, and thank your body. This can be
something like being grateful for the way your body's kept you healthy, the way your body runs
when you ask it to, the way your body's given you pleasure, or how your body helped you survive
your childhood. Try to thank your body in a heartfelt way, and really notice and appreciate it.

• Listen to what you're saying to your body through your thoughts, and give yourself some
compassion. Try really listening to yourself for a whole day. You'll probably find you criticize and
put down your body a lot more than you thought you do. If you catch yourself being negative,
criticizing your body, putting your body down, take note of that, and then try to give yourself
compassionate, loving messages about your body. If you have trouble doing this, try to imagine a
friend with you, looking at you with love in her or his eyes. What would she or he say about your
body? As often as possible, try to give yourself deliberate positive messages about your body—
messages that counteract the negative ones you give yourself or are given, and messages that
celebrate your body. Even if you don't believe them at first, keep saying them. Repeated often
enough, they will eventually sink in. Affirmations are a good way to give yourself those positive

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Deborah Bailey
It’s My Time Now Life Coaching


Body Image
• Listen to what you're saying to your body through your actions, and give yourself compassion.
For instance, do you treat your body roughly (bumping into things often, drying your body roughly
after a shower); ignore your body (not going to the bathroom when you have to, not get yourself
something to drink when you're thirsty)? Try to listen to your body, and what it needs. Notice the
ways you aren't being gentle with your body. Then try to imagine your body as the child you once
were, or a child you love. Would you treat a child that way? You don't deserve to be treated that
way, either.

• Remember that people love you for who you are and how you act, not for what your body looks
like. True friendship and love come from how we are with others, what we share with them about
ourselves, and the way we are inside—not how we look. You deserve to love your body, and to
feel good about your body—and yourself.

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