Body image is our relationship to how we think our body looks and what feelings we have about that. It’s very subjective in nature, meaning that you can have a positive body image even if someone else doesn’t have a positive view of your body- or the opposite, you can have a negative view of your body while someone else thinks positive things about what your body looks like.
The way our ideas about our bodies shape are complicated and there are many factors that contribute to these ideas. The way we were raised, the way our older female role models spoke and treated their own bodies, how other spoke about and treated our bodies and how much emphasis there was on appearance in our growing up families.
Some additional factors that influence our young attitudes about our bodies are the type of media, advertising, images and culture we were exposed to as children. Kelly & Tiffany both agreed in this podcast episode that they remembered distinct exposure to attitudes and beliefs about their bodies that continued to influence how they felt most of their lives about what was good or what was bad about their bodies- and you probably can too!
Peer groups, whether in childhood and adult life can influence body image as well. What do the people you hang out with most look like? How do they treat their bodies, and what do they say about both their own body and other women’s bodies? Many women consciously and subconsciously make small changes to be more like the people they spend the most amount of time with.
As women, we feel that we are more targeted to look a certain way, hide flaws, make physical improvements, be a certain size, have white teeth, look athletic- but not too athletic; thin but not too thin; tall but not too tall… it’s terribly overwhelming when we truly stop and think of all the societal pressures placed on ladies. Interrupting these expectations, taking an inventory of your thoughts and practicing new thought patterns can be useful while trying to develop a healthier body image as a female.
After exploring how we develop body image, we are curious in holding some of the more negative thoughts we have about our body more captive. Recognizing thought patterns, where they stem from and how to react in a healthier way to our own ideas is key in getting a grip on a more positive body image. One body-positive method is practicing gratitude for all your body does and is capable of doing. It’s pretty amazing when you think about every tiny detail that goes off without a hitch or major effort of our own- breathing, blood pumping, chemistry, compensations, neurological reactions, mobility, etc etc etc.
Another concept for combating negative body image is something called body neutrality- it’s viewing your body as a neutral element in your life: not good or bad, it’s just a body that helps you carry out all the necessary parts of living. Removing the emotional touch-points and thinking more on the practicality of what a body is and does helps some women to take the charge off the pressure and expectation to “love” their body or inauthentically express positivity towards it.
One passion of the Wine & Gyn ladies is to make the female experience less complex, normalizing anatomy and regular body functions- so that we can live in knowledge and appreciation- but so that we can model something better for our own daughters (and sons too!). Tiffany and Kelly both share the sentiment of calling out some of their own unhealthy ideas and beliefs so that they can give a better experience to their kiddos. You can join them, whether you are a mom or not, there are little ones watching and observing the things we do and say concerning our bodies and how we feel about them.