Everyone has a body image or a way in which they see their own body. It could be poor or good, depending on one’s perceptions. Poor body image translates to "I’m ugly" or "I’m too fat," whereas good body image translates to "I’m attractive" or "I’m a good person."
Body image doesn’t necessarily equate to objective measures of attractiveness or subjective opinions of others. For example, someone might see me as attractive but I might have a poor body image. I might see someone whom I consider extremely unattractive but they might have a good body image.
As I was going through the family photo albums in preparation for my Dad’s recent celebration of life, I found many photos of myself as a child, teenager, and young adult. Most of my life I didn’t give my body or face much thought but as I got older, I thought of myself as too fat and just average looking. Now, looking at these photos, I can’t imagine where those images came from. I look at myself at age 19 and think "Wow, I was really slim and I had great legs!" At age 22, in a photo where I was caught off guard, I see a hip and pretty young woman with beautiful long dark hair and dressed in the latest styles.
So, why then did I imagine myself to be plain and fat? Well, truth be told, I did gain weight a couple of times in my life. First, after my back surgery in ’86, we moved to Ottawa where we didn’t know anyone. It took about a year to completely heal but in the lonely meantime, I hibernated at home while the kids were at school and hubby was at work. Over time, the weight came on. Dear hubby never said one word about my weight gain – ever! And it did come off, finally. The second time I gained weight was after my husband died. Food became my comfort as I avoided people and any activities where I thought everyone would be staring at me and thinking "poor Leslie." For me depression, anxiety, and emotional stress were the root causes of my poor body image.
I found that I needed to develop a positive body image and a healthy mental attitude towards myself as a woman. I had to accept that I’d gained weight and for health reasons I needed to get it off. I didn’t like my teeth, so I got them fixed.
I must remind myself that I am attractive to some and not so attractive to others. I should only care about how someone sees my heart and soul. I surround myself with people who influence my body image with positive comments.
If only we could see ourselves as others see us. It could be a great motivator to either help us improve our character or relieve us of our insecurities.
- Delta, British Columbia, Canada
- I took very early retirement from teaching in '06 and did some traveling in Europe and the UK before settling down to do some private tutoring. As a voracious reader, I have many books waiting in line for me to read. Tell me I shouldn't read something, and I will. I'm a happy, optimistic person and I love to travel and through that believe that life can be a continuous learning experience. I'm looking forward to traveling more some day. I enjoy walking, cycling, water aerobics & and sports like tennis, volleyball, and fastpitch/baseball. I'm just getting into photography as a hobby and I'm enjoying learning all the bits and bobs of my digital camera. My family is everything to me and I'm delighted to be the mother of two girls and the Gramma of a boy and a girl. I may be a Gramma, but I'm at heart just a girl who wants to have fun.