This may seem odd to you, but when I casually look in a mirror as I pass by, sometimes I often don’t recognize me. I see someone with graying, curly hair and more than a few wrinkles in time. You see, there’s a part of me that continues to see myself as 17-years-old. The problem is I haven’t been 17-years-old for (gulp!) over 40 years. Does that imply some magical thinking on my part? Nah! My psychological marbles are mostly round and functioning properly. But, it does speak to how I see myself, aka my body image.
One online definition of body image is: “the subjective concept of one’s physical appearance based on self-observation and the reactions of others.” Would you like to know what I think of that definition? Pure hooey… specifically regarding the last three words. It’s when we allow ourselves to get caught by the “reaction of others” that we might as well flush our internal power down the toilet. A Spirited Woman is all about acknowledging her personal power, right?
There are two ways in which body image has been defined: first, as a medical and psychological term for defining self-perception; second, as a social and cultural phenomenon. Both of these ideas are, in reality, interconnected — however, it makes sense in the present context to examine them separately. It’s the social and cultural phenomenon aspect that I want to discuss in this blog. I’ll tackle the medical definitions next week.
In my humble opinion, we’re sorta missin’ the boat when it comes to having a healthy body image. It all starts with self-appreciation. If we don’t appreciate ourselves, we’re highly unlikely to take care of the machine in which we’re walking around. Human beings are essentially a highly complex communication vehicle. Remember the computer term “garbage in/garbage out?” That phrase applies to our bodies, too. The garbage, in this sense, can be anything from unhealthy edibles to false, limiting beliefs.