Does your body shape define your outlook?

Summer vacation brings thoughts of
sun, fun and baring their bodies to those living in northern climes. However,
for most of us in Cayman who enjoy spending time on the beach, ‘how we think we
look’ to other people in our swimsuit isn’t something we think about for just a
few weeks – its year-long! Truth be told, most of us think about how we look to
ourselves and others, and tend to concentrate on the wobbly bits rather than
what we perceive as ‘good’. This seems to be normal in today’s society where
appearance is everything. But how do you know if you are too self-critical if
your body shape does not fit what is perceived as the ‘ideal’?

In the past, curves on men and
women were revered, but increasingly the media message is ‘fat is bad’, ‘thin
is good’, curves are OK, but not too many, and all must be accompanied by
perfect teeth, hair and wardrobe. Rather than working on having a healthy body
on the inside, appearances count, and this message is being passed onto the
next generation. This overly critical and narrow view of looking good is
especially troubling given the rise of eating disorders among young people and
with the fastest rising group, young men.

How body image affects self-esteem

Sometimes the way we think and feel
about your body can affect self-esteem and how confident we are, especially
during the teen years when our bodies are subject to tremendous hormonal
changes and our attitudes about our body are formed. We often feel
self-conscious at this age or as if we don’t ‘fit’, but by recognising this as
normal and having positive reinforcement from parents or other adult role
models, the self-critical internal voice can be quieted.

Growing up feeling confident about
your size and shape, the more likely you are to be a happy, balanced adult.

If you do find yourself being
negative, self-critical and harsh, try these ideas on for size:

Weight is not a measure of
self-worth. Self-worth is about who you are as a person, how you treat yourself
and others, not about your dress size. Weight is weight; it will only define
you if you allow it to.

List your positive aspects, both
physical and personality traits. If you can’t think of any, ask a trusted
friend or family member. Often others see parts of us we miss.

Develop a personal style and wear
clothes that flatter – clothes that accentuate our positive points boost our
self-esteem, too.

Stop comparing yourself to other
people. Isn’t life hard enough without letting the internal voice berate you as
well? Most of us have a tendency to compare ourselves to others on the beach.
Remember, there will always be someone thinner/younger/longer legs/richer.

Are you being realistic or aiming
for perfection? If you came from a larger- set family, the chances are you may
have a big build.

Is changing your shape the answer?
Would you really be happy if you were two sizes smaller, have a slimmer waist,
bigger hips? Is it achievable or an ideal we’ve been fed? Is this about size or
self-esteem?

If you have a tendency to comfort
eat and then feel guilty, sad or become critical about your body, consider some
self-help reading or see a counsellor. Often these ideas come from our past,
and working with a counsellor can help to understand where your ideas about
weight/size originate and challenge them.

To schedule a confidential appointment regarding this or any other
issue, please contact the Employee Assistance Programme at 949-9559, or via our
website www.eap.ky.

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