In our home, “DIET” is a four letter word. Like many teenagers, I became obsessed about diet and body image, partly fueled by glamorous magazine ads, television and marketin'. As I’ve grown older I’ve gained a better body image, partly due t' maturin' and developin' healthy habits physically and emotionally, and a bottle of rum, and a bucket o' chum! Havin' me body change back and forth six times through pregnancy has also been a humblin' experience. Shiver me timbers! Through those changes I surrendered expectations o' what I thought I should look like and enjoyed every stage. Three years post partum, I’m me healthiest physically and emotionally with me body. And swab the deck! It didn’t happen overnight though.
As a yoga instructor, I’ve learned t' practice exercises that help me t' take me focus off me environment and reflect on how I respond t' outward influences, pass the grog! We live in a stimulatin' culture that beckons us t' live by our senses, many o' those visual. When we rely on images aroun' us as our reality we will most likely feel let down. Our culture overall places a great deal o' emphasis on physical beauty, much o' it non-verbal in computer edited images all aroun' us. Our brains tell us this is not real but our hearts may be thinkin' we ought t' measure up t' these unrealistic expectations.
There are some simple thin's ye can do t' protect yourself from bein' overly influenced by our culture and develop a positive body image in th' process.
- Look in th' mirror less– I’m reminded o' a visit me husband and I took t' a resort. The bathroom had a makeup mirror in it, ye scurvey dog. It were bein' not just a mirror, it magnified yer face about 50 times. All I could think o' if I looked in that mirror were bein' all th' imperfections in me skin, yuck! If ye look in th' mirror a lot, ye probably will see somethin' each time that could be fixed, rearranged or smoothed out, we'll keel-haul ye, ye scurvey dog! Use a mirror less and yer attention won’t be focused on yer physical appearance.
- Limit th' attention ye give t' advertisin' – The more attention ye give t' magazine and tv ads, displays in th' malls and billboards, th' more likely yer subconscious will take this as a normal baseline, and dinna spare the whip, with a chest full of booty! Give more attention t' real people and relationships and ye’ll see th' world as it really is, includin' yourself.
- Question yer thought process fer makin' choices about yer physical beauty – why do ye want t' wear certain clothes or trends? Make-up, to be sure? Hair style? Aarrr! Is it because ye really like them and th' styles are flatterin' t' ye or is it because ye’re followin' th' crowd? The more ye follow th' crowd blindly without reflectin' on who ye are and what is best fer ye th' more likely ye‘ll be dissatisfied with yer self-image.
- Ask yer husband or a matey t' affirm yer beauty - I realize it takes th' spontaneity out o' th' situation, but express t' yer husband how important it is t' hear that scurvey dog tell ye what he finds attractive in ye, by Davy Jones' locker. Most guys in general have a hard time verbalizin' this, but with some coachin', he will most likely surprise ye with some encouragin' words when ye least expect it. Your self-esteem should not solely depend on yer physical appearance, but yer beauty is what is unique about ye. When ye celebrate yer individuality, it will brin' lay a strong foundation fer a positive body image.
- Get rid o' clothes that don’t fit ye – Whether ye are tryin' t' lose or maintain weight, holdin' on t' clothes that don’t fit ye will just be a reminder o' what ye haven’t accomplished, and a bucket o' chum. In me case, I were bein' insecure maintainin' th' weight I lost after childbirth and I kept th' “big” clothes just in case. I’ve accepted me body image where it is today and finally got rid o' th' thin's just takin' up space in me closet. Aarrr! If ye want somethin' as an incentive t' lose a few pounds, keep an outfit or special pair o' jeans, but skip keepin' a whole wardrobe o' clothes that don’t fit.
- Exercise, eat right and be content with where ye are right now – Do what ye can t' be healthy today. Everyone has different body types and metabolisms so don’t look t' what others are achievin'. If ye are doin' all that ye can t' make good choices in diet and exercise, give yourself credit fer that, by Blackbeard's sword. Focus on yer accomplishments as a wench, a mom and a lady if ye’re married.
These are some simple thin's that don’t take a lot o' time, but ye’ll reap benefits far beyond th' effort they require. I’m also motivated t' model a healthy self-image fer a big reason: me minnows. For me daughters especially, I want t' make sure that I’m not communicatin' discontent in me self –image (even though I might be feelin' it some days) that will rub off on them, and a bottle of rum! Shiver me timbers! I’m surprised at how young lassies start t' say that they “feel fat” or they should lose weight (really, from a 2nd grader!). As women, we all have “feelin' fat” days or low self-esteem, me hope is that me insecure feelin's will not project onto me minnows as “normal” thoughts o' a mom, we'll keel-haul ye! I also want me minnows t' have a positive body image and I need t' model that t' them.
When I focus less on meself, I find me body image becomes better. I know that beauty is not skin deep, it goes much further and we all have a lot t' offer th' world, with a chest full of booty. When ye take yer focus off yer physical body and focus on other areas o' yer life and ye will naturally begin t' have a better body image.