Thursday, April 08, 2010

The effect of body-image on females.

The body-image: is it real or myth?
Confessions of a dieting junkie!

Much is being said at the moment about the psychological effect of the thin ‘body image’ on young females, as portrayed in popular magazines by those skinny models on the world’s fashion catwalks. This has been suggested as leading to young girls' dieting to extremes and ending up suffering from anorexia nervosa.

On the other hand, we seem to have an epidemic of obesity among children and adults.
Fat outstrips smoking as leading premature killer.(The Age, 9/4/'10).
So which of these extremes is the more dangerous and where does ‘body image’ come into it? Obesity leads to other diseases, such as heart, diabetes, stress on the joints and bones, etc. Don’t fat people see themselves as fat,- only the thin ones do? What kind of body-image do they prefer? Do they see themselves as 'thin', or at least thinner?

I have recently experienced changes in my own body's shape and suddenly when I started to look in the mirror, my perception of how I look to myself has also changed. After years of slowly piling on the kilos,- at the rate of just 1 kg. per year, who notices? But after 15 years and 15 kg.,with dress sizes gradually changing through 12, 14, 16, even 18,- everyone but me did notice it and I decided that perhaps the time has come to do something about it. The major shock was hearing the medical specialist who weighed and measured me, telling me that according to my BMI ( body mass index) I was obese!

Over the years, looking at myself in the mirror, dressed in the kind of clothes that hid my bulges, I talked myself into thinking that I am ‘plump’,- only jokingly complaining that I am getting fat,- but never considered myself obese! I then listened to what the Dr. suggested that I should start doing to get down to a below obesity-BMI level and slowly, with some hard work and determination I began to lose those extra kilos and the fat!

I began to look at myself in the mirror with a lot more confidence and began choosing a different style of dressing. Instead of covering my waistline and bottom, I was quite happy to accentuate them,- ‘showing them off’!

Am I thin? Hardly! Thinner,- according to all who see me,- certainly, yes! I have some lovely clothes in my wardrobe which I constantly take to the dressmaker to take in so that I can wear them more comfortably. But it is this which makes me realize that the whole notion of ‘body image’ is actually very real!When I try on some of my previously favourite blouses in my wardrobe nowadays,I quickly take them off once I look at myself in the mirror! Why?

Because the style of clothes I used to buy, now seem to make me look fat and I don’t like it! I feel fatter now, in fact than I ever did before! Can this feeling fat make me diet more,- could I become anorexic? Hardly,- my hunger pains,- and sweet tooth,- will ensure to keep me from ever going down that path of continuing self-denial! But I can understand how a younger and immature girl could end up thus. (I am constantly urging my adult skinny daughter to eat up!) When people compliment me nowadays that I look ‘terrific’,- I know that they only compare me with how I looked before! I don’t believe I look so great,- yet!

The reality is that I am no longer satisfied with my own body image, even at my age! Therefore I am convinced that the whole body-image story is not a myth, - it is real alright! However, a more positive result I note these days is the effect that the exercise associated with my weight-loss program has on my energy level! This I consider to be the major benefit of undertaking any weight-loss program,- particularly in our senior years, on top of the positive psychological effect of our self-image.

Therefore I strongly recommend that everyone undertake both a sensible dietary regimen (low GI suits me and my family best of all,-very easy too!) and a moderate exercise program, for that feeling of energy and self-confidence at whatever age they may be.

Comments received.
It is very sad that some females diet to the extreme as they are influenced by the peer group and un-real images in the media
These victims are immersed in themselves; totally
You; on the other had; have devoted your life to the Jewish Community and therefore had more important issues to think about; other than weight!
D. K.

RE: body image, I suffer all my life with it, have had a complex that I am fat, this is how I see myself. However, I will never be skinny, as I 'live to eat', love sweets, etc.
A lot of it is 'compensation' or boredom......I know these are excuses. As I get older I try to dismiss negative thoughts and concentrate on my achievements, being thin is not my aim in life. I have learned to like myself, and accept for what I am. When I look around I am not fat or thin, but somewhere in between. I try to be sensible when attending functions, not to eat anything deep fried. His (low GI) diet also helps, as I do not cook potatoes, rice, pastas, I have learned to manage without. (RR)

I have looked at the article on your blog, and find it very good. You are quite right. The hue and cry that is taking place now, I believe is generated by the government, as well as the various sections of the public. The govt. because it is finding and funding a very large increase in childhood diseases attributed directly to obesity and inactivity in children due to TV & TVgames. And then you have the other end of the spectrum, where children who are influenced and pressured by images such as barby dolls, fashions for stick figures etc. virtually starve themselves to fit the image. So that some are starving themselves to death by not eating, while others are doing it, in the other extreme. These self same children grow up to be adults, if they are lucky, and so the cycle goes on.

My mother was petite and never fat. She always said to me. "Never go on diets. Whatever you will take off you will put on double. I have tried to keep it mind, not always successfully.

Nowadays however, with the stresses in our lives,-this applies to both young and old, we tend to be divided into two camps. One is a couch potato, and poo poohs the stick body image portrayed, and is fairly content, unless shocked by illness or something else. While the other considers the stick figure image advertised and portrayed, as the ultimate in health and looks. Thus body image can take many forms as I see it. Both believe they are right........Most importantly I believe, the middle path of moderation is never mentioned. Moderation in eating, sleeping,sport, exercise etc. That I believe is the correct body image!.......If it can be achieved!!
Good luck with what you are doing. You look like you are going in the right direction. (T.W.)

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