I read a book years ago, You Can't Buy My Love, that explains how advertising actually creates addiction to seeking love from external sources - the ads we are exposed to over and over every day are carefully designed to make us think products or things will give us love and satisfaction, but instead leave us hungry for more of said objects.
The deeper I go with my coaching clients and my work helping women from emotional eating I can't help but think about the book again... My clients are strong, smart, funny, ambitious, and basically AMAZING women - but these lines of self sabotage still exist despite how incredibly AWESOME these woman are!!! I can relate, because we've ALL been there... every single woman, and maybe every single person... It takes work to let go of the grip, but it can be done, and it is so freeing!
I'm really excited about the quiz I announced last month - don't worry it's fun and even funny, but it does help identify when media/society has inundated our thoughts about ourselves and our lives...
AND my goal is to of course help you say, "Fuck you, ads!" at the same time you say, "Fuck you, cookies!" ;)
I've had these thoughts rumbling around in my head for a while. I haven't really know exactly how to talk about them in the context of me as "me" and me as "health coach."
But I'm going to go for it anyway!
Media Controls Our Body Image
I sometimes get pretty riled up when it comes to how media affects us in our day to day. There is the incessant marketing of processed junk "food" products, often targeting children, low income, and other more susceptible markets.
There is the deception across the board of how healthy a food is (or usually ISN'T), in marketing from the ads to the packages.
Then there is the one I want to talk about today: objectification of women and how that affects our body image.
Because I thought for a VERY long time that I had sheltered myself from the effects of the objectification of women in media (and the world at large). I thought because I avoided a lot of mainstream media, having watched little TV most of my life, surrounding myself with communities of true health like the YMCA, and just generally thinking that I'd kicked that bullshit out of my life.
Because there is a lot of crap we have to avoid. The extremely limited scope of what "beautiful" is, the putting of certain phenotypes and cultural heritage on a pedestal of beauty, the shame and degradation of others that don't fit this type.
We Are Oversexualized
And there is more! The over sexualization of women, starting a woefully young age... I got some hand me down girl clothes, thinking I'd be a bit gender neutral with my two boys, I kept some of the shirts ... the girls t-shirts were all TIGHT. Why does a 3, 4, 5 year old need to wear TIGHT clothes? It disturbed me.
And here is where my own relationship with body image gets complicated. I am healthy, I eat well, I exercise... and I'm also naturally thin, and tall. Just by default I somewhat "fit the mold" of what is considered the most "beautiful" or "sexy."
I know in my teenage years and even young adulthood, I fell into what was expected, wearing tight, revealing clothes, etc. And I'm not against making yourself feel beautiful or desirable, I'm actually totally in favor of it.
And yet the objectified version of it is so intertwined with the authentic version of it, it's completely confusing.
Having Kids Is Like WTF
So here I was, thinking that I was in control of that definition, thinking that I wasn't confused at all, that I was only doing exactly what I wanted to be doing, that I knew I didn't care about this societal pressure, I was being authentic to just what felt good to ME!
And then I had kids.
And while to an outsider I probably looked like I lost the baby weight fairly easily/quickly, my body changed. Lots of subtle, but pervasive changes. I'm not going to list them all out here, because I'm not trying to show how so many things went downhill.
I'm trying to grapple with the fact that I thought I was free from this objectification/social expectation of beauty, when I wasn't.
Because I think the one change, no matter how naturally thin or traditionally beautiful you may be, no matter how hard yo try to preserve whatever desired qualities you have... there is ONE thing that NO ONE can avoid.
And that is leaving youth behind.
Media is Obsessed With Youth
I've been mourning leaving behind the maiden phase.
And I've been working on embracing my growth into mother, and eventually, I know, grandmother and crone. Because I know there is a lot to embrace and admire.
And yet, all the things I thought I'd been immune to all my life about beauty, I realize had a place in me that I didn't know existed. I think it's fine to mourn a life change. And yet it's become complicated because I've also discovered all this baggage that I didn't even know I had, that society's perception of beauty HAD, indeed, set firm root inside me. So I am working to untangle the judgement and objectification from my authentic self.
I share this here to let you know that I know personal health can be complicated. Our beliefs about ourselves and our body change and evolve over time, as we age, as we leave life phases behind, as we come to realizations about ourselves we didn't even know we had!
As a health coach, most people want practical information they can apply in the day to day. And that is totally my jam! I LOVE talking health and solving logistical problems with health.
And at the same time, if we unearth complicated, tangled up things, I want you to know that our time together is a safe space to be honest about things that are affecting our lives and our health.
Find out how big an influence media has been on your healthy body image with my awesome quiz.
And then of course let me know, what do you think about media and body image?