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Women at War with their Bodies

February 3, 2012

Women of all ages are at war with their bodies.  We seem to spend a disproportionate amount of time thinking and talking about what we should and shouldn’t do to look and feel better. What we talk about may vary with age but what doesn’t change is the pervasive sense that something is wrong with what is.

A culture of in-your-face advertising has affected a whole generation of women and threatens to level another one.  Many boomer women began dieting before puberty and have gained and lost the same ten, twenty or thirty pounds repeatedly for twenty or more years.  In seeking the “perfect body”, as defined by a culture that idolizes the ultra thin woman, we have heaped insult upon injury. Not only is our self-imaged damaged but our metabolic functions are broken.

Body dysmorphia is a pervasive condition among women in our culture.  As described by the Mayo Clinic, “Body dysmorphic disorder is a type of chronic mental illness in which you can’t stop thinking about a flaw with your appearance – a flaw that is either minor or imagined.”  An individual suffering from dysmorphia cannot discern whether they are too heavy, too thin, or in fact, just right. They see only the imperfections, focusing only on the slightly too large hips, slightly too small breasts, stretch marks, you name it. I don’t think I know a single woman who doesn’t suffer from some degree of dysmorphia.

Our culture suffers from the same condition. An article published by Plus Model Magazine reveals just how distorted our perceptions of the healthy female body have become. While attempting to strike a blow at mainstream thinking by touting that “Plus size women are beautiful”, the article falls prey to the same skewed, unhealthy perspective that they are railing against. The model presented as plus size is not what the average woman would consider a plus size.  See for yourself.   

Women reacted strongly to the article and even began to clash with each other. The most common complaint was that models, the very women our culture wants us to “model” ourselves after, are held to a different, higher standard. In the modeling world, a size 12 is considered a plus size. That alone speaks volumes to cultural dismorphia.

As long as women continue to allow the culture to dictate to them what is beautiful and what is not, what is healthy for them personally and what is not, what they should look like, smell like, act like, etc. we will continue to be at war with a very important part of ourselves.  We can begin to correct our own dismorphia by recognizing how out of whack our culture has become.  By setting our own standards, our own healthy norm, one that silences the internal battle and does not intensify it, we will find that we feel better. We will also likely find we quit talking about diet, exercise and health and start loving who we are.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. February 3, 2012 1:57 pm

    I could not agree more – or more vehemently.

    We need to look at ourselves rationally, realistically, with an eye toward health, and healthy beauty. And encourage those who love us to do the same.

    http://dailyplateofcrazy.com/2012/01/26/getting-naked/

  2. February 3, 2012 9:15 pm

    you said it sister!!! vicki 🙂

  3. February 17, 2012 8:34 pm

    Very well said, specially this: “As long as women continue to allow the culture to dictate to them what is beautiful and what is not, what is healthy for them personally and what is not, what they should look like, smell like, act like, etc. we will continue to be at war with a very important part of ourselves.”

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