I’m researching videos and articles today for this month’s theme of body image for our Girls Elevate program. I’m not getting paid while I sit here, no-one is holding me to a deadline, and I am more inspired in this moment than any other moment in my day so far.
Why? Because the distortion of body image is an epidemic that is out of control. And it needs to be stopped. Now. We are here to elevate and contribute … we are not here to compete and judge. But we do, don’t we?
Changing the paradigm around body image is my passion, my deep, rooted passion.
Why? Because, I remember being “average” in middle school, wanting to fit in, being bullied, taking diet pills, and skipping meals just to look good. I remember wanting to look like all those popular girls who had the attention of all the boys. I remember feeling like not enough for a very long, long time. I never had the perfect hair, the perfect body or the perfect clothes. My nickname was “Herschel Walker” in junior high because I had strong thighs, and I was always being teased for my small breasts.
Sticks and stones WILL break your bones and names DO HURT. It’s a fact.
I remember putting makeup on during my bus ride in the morning and then changing my clothes in the bathroom the moment I arrived to school.
It still wasn’t enough because someone, somewhere was telling me I wasn’t! The messages came from television programs, magazine covers, teen articles, and advertisements galore. The scary thing is now our girls are not only fighting these media outlets, but they are also dealing with the Internet, Instagram and other social media channels that make them feel less than all the time. And from what I have seen on the playground of my daughter’s middle school, some girls haven’t changed much either. There are days I want to move to some remote island with my sacred masculine counter part and raise these girls where there is no media … at all!
Ahhhh living the dream….
However, what IS exciting to me is that I have witnessed many, many powerful women AND men coming out of the woodwork talking about body image and how important it is to “love thyself”. THIS is exciting! Some of these people are adolescents and teenagers too, which is amazing and so very, very lovely. And at the same time, it’s kind of scary, because they are crying out for help. Big time, and if you don’t see that, I am here to tell you that.
We need more of this speaking up and speaking out boldly.
My goal with Girls Elevate is to interview every single girl enrolled in our program and have them tell us, and the world, what is magnificent about their body, about their mind, about their hearts. So they RE-member they are a package deal and that they ARE ENOUGH. And I’m not talking about just the younger girls, I’m talking about the mothers too.
As a mother of two young girls I have to say, I feel like I am always on “alert” with body image (and a host of other topics as well) because the truth is, they are watching. Sometimes I think they are watching me even when they are sleeping! So I am in a constant state of self-observation, which can be so revealing, exhausting and inspiring all in one moment!
I watch what I say (most times), am conscious about choices I make (a lot of the time), and monitor what I post in my social media realm. Why? Because some of their friends follow ME on Instagram and Facebook! And they are telling my kids what I post! My children do not have those accounts yet. Why?
Because they don’t need one. They need good grades in school and they need to be able to carry on a real conversation with real people. And honestly, I don’t know about you, but some days there is just enough energy to manage life and it’s own real drama, let alone something that someone posted on some social media outlet. That’s really the bottom line, it’s one more thing to manage! Ick!
Social media is just another avenue for comparison, and judgment and not enough-ness when not managed or discussed properly. I’m 46 years old and sometimes I catch myself thinking, “Geez, why am I not doing that! Or what can’t I accomplish that!” It’s a trap… one I admittedly use to promote my business, yes, but must limit the time I spend before I get sucked in!
If this is happening to me, what do you think is going on in their lovely minds?
I want my girls to look in the mirror and LOVE what they see. I want them to love how they FEEL more than anything else. And I want them to feel good in the body they have. That means I have to lead by example too, so I am so not off the hook.
Guess what? This has been a challenge for me for a long, long time.
Why? Because I don’t have a body like some of these yogis who grace us all with their perfect poses in perfect backdrops. Nope. Not even close. And I have grey hair that’s growing in underneath my streaks of blonde! And I get zits on my face STILL when I eat too much chocolate. I have wrinkles from thinking too much and smiling A LOT! My belly is not the six-pack washboard that Photoshop gave me some 5 years ago, and my boobs are smaller than a lot of my women friends. And, while my waist is small, my butt is always feeling the hug from my jeans. They won’t fall off past my butt but I have to wear a belt to keep from showing my undergarments, if I decide to wear them.
And you know what? I love my body! As our body changes from one season to the next in this life, we are meant to embrace that change. However, as a society we spend more energy on fighting it, memorializing it and trying to be something we were or something we always wanted to be.
I say, love what you have and love it good because when you do, everyone else will too. This epidemic of not being enough has to stop. Our girls are dying from it … literally. Did you know that 35,000 girls a year will develop anorexia before the age of 15 and of that 35,000, about 10,000 will die from it.
This scares the hell out of me. A girl, a goddess, a woman with a big dream, bright light and UNIQUE GIFT to offer this planet will take her own life because she thinks she’s not enough.
This cannot happen .. not one more time.
Body image … oh the lovely body image.
Can we do ourselves all a favor please … start posting the not so hot photos. Start posting authentic stories and dramas of your life. Post a photo before you go on a green juice diet and before you put on make up. How about in your baggie Sunday sweatpants? Better yet… send me a story about a not so beautiful side of you so these girls can see the real deal.
Stop buying those stupid magazines and the products they promote. They just give those companies more fuel to hurt our girls more. I know you get that.
I just avoid posting too many photos anyway. It’s exhausting to keep up. I just look in the mirror daily and remind myself … I love you. Do it .. today. You never know who’s watching.
Author Dana Damara – Founder Girls Elevate, Yogini, Momma in training