Expert Insight: Looking the Wrong Way

“Body image is quite independent of physical appearance. Someone with high self-esteem tends to view her body favourably, regardless of how she actually looks.  

The weak connection between body image and physical appearance means that changing your looks won’t guarantee a lasting improvement in self-esteem…you need to get past your appearance and focus on your other personal strengths as well.”

– Rita Freedman, “Bodylove”.

It may come as a surprise that body image really has nothing to do with how you look.

When someone struggles with poor body image, we might say “it’s such a shame – if only they could learn to like their looks”.

In reality, it’s “if only they could learn to like themselves”.

If we want to feel better about ourselves, dreaming about having the perfect body and fantasizing about “fixing” our appearance is, essentially, looking the wrong way.

It’s looking outward, not inward.

A dysfunctional relationship with food is symptomatic of a dysfunctional relationship with ourselves. The latter can’t be improved by looking in the mirror. It can’t be solved with weight loss. It can’t be healed by the approval and admiration of others.

Self-esteem is our relationship with ourselves, no one else.

That’s why it’s crucial we give ourselves a break and get to know ourselves better because if you can come to know and appreciate your qualities and strengths, you can come to know and appreciate your body.

It’s simple: hate yourself, hate your body. Like yourself, like your body.

If we think “I’ll like myself when I’m thin enough” we’re entirely missing the point. For how many years now have we been missing the point?

It’s time we started getting it. I mean really getting it.

We just need to stop looking the wrong way.

***

Freedman, R (1988), Bodylove: Learning to Like Our Looks – and Ourselves”. London: Grafton Books.

What’s the Downside of Daydreaming?

As you elegantly step out of the limousine onto the red carpet, cheers instantly erupt from the waiting crowd. You reward them with a dazzling smile while the night sky lights up with hundreds of flashes from paparazzi cameras.

In one perfectly manicured hand you hold the new diamond-encrusted phone Apple designed especially for you. In the other, you clutch the Oscar you won the night before for Best Adapted Screenplay of your own best-selling novel (your legendary acceptance speech was both hilarious and moving, by the way).

Your phone rings. It’s Adele. What? She wants to duet with you on her new album? Well, how could you refuse? You’re not sure how you’ll squeeze it in, what with addressing the United Nations, the fitting for your new Marvel superhero costume, and collecting your Nobel Prize in Stockholm. But sure, Adele, anything for you. Suddenly, you hear a loud voice say:

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Season’s Bleatings: Dodging Diet Talk

At a Christmas party, two guests are standing by the buffet. One has their plate piled high with food. The other has cleverly taken a Buffet Tour and has selected only the food they really wanted. The first guest is eating very quickly, the other is taking their time and savouring their selection.

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Season’s Meetings: Shields Up!

It’s a good old-fashioned Christmas meet-up with family, friends and acquaintances.

So who’s here? There’s your aunt who tries to emotionally manipulate you. There’s that old family friend who always makes inappropriate remarks about your body. Over there’s your cousin who never fails to give you “helpful” diet tips. She’s talking to your mother who’s giving you “that look”.

And there’s you – mindlessly eating mince pies in an attempt to deal with the stress and misery.

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Season’s Eatings: The Buffet Tour

A friend is having a Christmas get-together. The house is decorated, the tree is trimmed and in the middle of the room a table groans under the weight of an impressive buffet.

There’s everything you could imagine: sausage rolls, veggie vol-au-vents, smoked salmon pinwheels, stuffed peppers, bread, salads and olives, not to mention those little cheesy ball things you just can’t resist (apparently this buffet is from 1974).

In the kitchen, an array of cakes and puddings is waiting to be brought out once the savoury course is finished.

What do you do?

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Season’s Greetings: A Letter to You

You’ll notice things are a little different on the blog this month. The usual features are being replaced with a series of festive-themed posts to help you through the holiday season.

And before the festivities really begin to ramp up, why not stop and take a breather?

Think about how the past 12 months have been for you and consider what you want next year.

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Gentle Reminder: It’s Not Your Fault

It’s so easy to beat yourself up when you binge. Especially if you begin to suffer health complications as a result of increased weight.

“It’s my fault”, you say. “I’ve brought this on myself”.

Except you haven’t.

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