- More than 80% of 4th grade girls have been on a fad diet (Social Issues Research Centre).
- The body type portrayed in advertising as the ideal is possessed naturally by less than 5% of females (Social Issues Research Centre).
- The average weight of a model is 23% lower than that of an average woman; 20 years ago, the differential was only 8% (Social Issues Research Centre).
- Each year the U.S. spends over $33 billion on weight-reduction programs, diet foods and beverages (HealthAtoZ.com).
- 95% of diets fail. (Barbara Cohen, Ph.D., “The Psychology of Ideal Body Image as an Oppressive Force in the Lives of Women,” 1984)
- Ads on TV and in magazines tend to use the most idealized images of women—research has shown that exposure to these ads negatively impacts body image (Social Issues Research Centre).
It’s a day like any other, really. She is riding the subway, sitting next to an ad espousing the wonders of yogurt and how it can help you lose weight. There is even a Spanish version. She gets off at the next stop and quickly heads to her destination. She steps inside and takes a seat. She picks up a magazine to pass the time, flipping through pages that promise flat abs in just 10 steps, 5 tricks to make him want you, and the best ways to get rid of unwanted hair. Before she can read the next article, about whether milk is good or bad, she is called in to the office by the nurse, and asked to step on the scale.
A day in the life of a woman is filled with advertising landmines. It’s enough to make us crazy. A million ways to lose weight, all sold to us by one body type. Then there’s hair. If it’s on our heads, we want it luscious and full – and straight if we plan to be taken seriously. Anywhere else, we just want it gone. Bikini season? There’s wax for that. For legs, just use a razor. For eyebrows, try threading. Facial hair? Zap it with electrolysis. It can be exhausting. Tired yet? Hungry maybe? For what? A burger? No, a chicken sandwich is better. Just make sure to get it without the bun. Carbs, you know. Of course, they weren’t always bad. Before everything was low-carb, everything was low-fat. Before that, low-calorie. Who knows what will be next.
Fortunately, it’s not all bad. Some advertising is actually positive. Some people are turning the gender games on their heads, for optimum comic appeal. Ever wonder what those crazy poses from fashion magazines would look like in real life? One artist did. Or how about if men posed like women? There isn’t anything amusing about those statistics posted above, but it is heartening to know that some folks have found a way to combat them while giving us a little room to laugh along the way.
Looking for a way to take action yourself? Talk about it. Make a video and join other women in sharing your story and your views.
Here a few more ways go positive on yourself:
- Indulge on your own terms. Whether it’s fresh veggies from the Farmer’s Market, or a pint of Häagen Dazs Vanilla Fudge ice cream, loving your body is also about loving your taste buds every once in a while.
- Stretch your mind and body. Yoga—gentle yoga that encompasses relaxation and a healthy lifestyle, as well as meditative yoga—can bring one to the consciousness of their unique inner being. Yoga can rejuvenate the mind and body and teach us how to care for ourselves.
- Read. It can be a source of entertainment, a way to catch up on current events or an educational tool. Several books have been published on loving your body—get some new ideas!
- Throw a private party. It worked for India.Arie and it can work for you too. Take a day for yourself and yourself only. Turn off your cell and log out of your instant messenger. Just spend the day looking in the mirror and exploring your body. Once the celebration is over you’ll realize that you learn something new everyday.
- Laugh out Loud. This isn’t just an Internet acronym spelled out. It’s an action that will do your body some good. Don’t be afraid to show the world your smile. It’s contagious.
- Have safe sex. Loving our bodies is about keeping them healthy and free from diseases. And besides, there’s nothing like getting a two for one on Love Your Body Day. (Of course, sex with yourself is always safe…)
- Spend time with your family. Whether it’s a pet or partner, your spouse or a sibling, quality time is a must-have in nurturing relationships which in turn nurture and love your body.
- Listen to positive music. Developing a theme song can do wonders for your body esteem and your overall outlook.
- Develop a creative outlet. Everyone needs a medium to express daily stress and frustrations constructively. Maybe you’re a photographer, writer, poet or all three. Maybe you can knit, make shapes out of clay or finger paint. Loving your body is also about loving your mind.
- Contribute to NOW Foundation so that they continue to give great ideas through the Love Your Body Campaign (P.S. It’s even tax-deductible!). Send them your ideas
*Thanks to NOW for the lists.