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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Accepting and Loving Our Bodies Ourselves

This young woman, Julia Bluhm, saw a problem and did something about it. At 14, and a reader of Seventeen magazine, she was struck but the way all the models looked in the magazine - perfect.Knowing this does not necessarily exist in nature she set out on a campaign to get the magazine - aimed at tweens and teens, to stoop Photoshopping the young models, and show the readers what they really look like.

And the amazing thing is - she won! I came across this story today and felt so inspired by her passion for showing young girls that no one, not even models are perfect.

My own love/hate affair with my body began at about 12. And it's continued on throughout my life. Hair too fine, breasts too small, stretch marks, cellulite, you name it, I've got it. I obsess over my body and face like a forensics specialist critiquing every square inch, hopefully finding a spot or two to feel good about.

Granted this has gotten better as I've gotten older, I no longer completely define myself by what I look like, but the vestiges are there causing me to be self-conscious about being naked in front of a lover (unless lying down - everything looks better lying down - and by candlelight) and causing me angst.

Every single morning I wake up and one of the first things I do is ease my hand down over my stomach and hips. While doing this I do a mental inventory of what I ate the night before and decide how bad to feel about myself in that moment. Stomach sunken in? Hip bones protruding? That is the best feeling. Don't pretend you haven't felt that too.

Food guilt. A friend told me I suffered from it. I'm not anorexic nor bulimic, but yes, what I eat matters and what I look like matters even more. Maybe it's shallow but it's a condition brought on by years of Cosmo, Glamour, Marie Claire, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, Vogue and Playboy. Because you know, we're not just supposed to be skinny, we're supposed to have huge breasts as well.

Yes of course there are men who also suffer from body image issues, but in general, men are much more forgiving of their not-so-hot spots. I've never, ever been with a man who dissects his body part by part (well, maybe just one part) the way women do. I guarantee they do not feel the same pressure we do to be perfect. And smart. And successful. No wonder we eat in secret and hide it from everyone. Too.Much.Guilt.

I am with someone who thinks I am stunning, even when my scale registers three pounds up. My hope is that with young women like Julia Bluhm leading the way we'll all have a chance to see a lot more of what real women look like, and love that and ourselves a whole lot more.

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