Body Image & Women’s Health

Over the weekend I was having a ‘fat day’. It really got me thinking – how could a woman who is so confident have a fat day? When I break it down and think of it rationally, I know I look great. So why do I have those days where by body image in my head doesn’t match my real life body? In this week’s blog I wanted to bring this issue forward. I started looking at the numbers, and was blown away by what I found.

According to the National Eating Disorders Association, 42 percent of first- to third-grade girls want to lose weight, and 81 percent of 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat.

According to Teen magazine, 35 percent of girls ages 6 to 12 have been on at least one diet, and 50 to 70 percent of normal-weight girls think they are overweight.

More than 90 percent of girls – 15 to 17 years – want to change at least one aspect of their physical appearance, with body weight ranking the highest. Nearly a quarter of girls age 15-17 would consider undergoing plastic surgery.

Girls’ self-esteem peaks when they are 9 years old. (McGraw, Carol, “Media, hormones, peer pressure do a number on girls’ confidence”, The News-Sentinel, Mon, Jul. 31, 2006)

Up to 12% of teen boys are using unproven supplements and/or steroids.

Young girls are more afraid of becoming fat than they are of nuclear war, cancer, or losing their parents.

According to the CDC, for women ages 20 years old and older, the average height for women in America is 5’3″ and weight is 166.2 pounds. For fashion models the average is 5’10” and 120 pounds.

The best-known contributor to the development of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa is body dissatisfaction. The median ages for onset of an eating disorder in adolescents is 12- to 13-years-old. In the United States, 20 million women suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life.

Only two percent of women globally consider themselves beautiful.

Are you as scared as me right now about this? There are so many contributing factors to why we have negative perceptions about our bodies. The media’s obsession with weight and fitness levels of celebrities and fashion models. Our peer groups constant conversations about the newest fitness fad or diet regime. Relationships that hurt your self esteem. Parents or coaches with an unhealthy focus on weight and looks. So what can we do about it to make ourselves, our friends and our children feel better and reverse this trend?

With children, it really starts from day one to have open communication with your children. Talk to them about everything – make them feel safe about talking about their feelings and emotions with you. And build up their confidence by having them try new things, meet new people, see the world in a different light. Tell them every day that you love them and why. Because they are smart, funny, fun to be around, beautiful, successful, athletic, intelligent – everything you always hope for your children to be.

Our friends. Let’s stop obsessing over unhealthy weight talk ok?. Let’s talk about it only in a positive light. A new fitness class you’re taking? A new supplement you’re loving? Sure – healthy talk. But stay away from ‘I’m fat’. If your friend needs to shed a couple pounds encourage her with healthy talk, join her on her fitness journey and provide good information on nutrition. I resolve to tell one friend each day what I love about them…try it. Putting that energy into the world every day does incredible things.

And you. Do you know how beautiful you are? I challenge you to wake up every morning, look in the mirror and compliment yourself on three things. Don’t hold back. Tell yourself your favorite three attributes about yourself, physically or other, each day. Because you ARE that amazing. You ARE that beautiful.

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