Most women have a distorted body image. There, I said it. It's not a minority, it's not half, it's the majority.
Ever since we were young females growing up, images have flashed across the television and computer screens of the perfect body. That Victoria's Secret model with the chiseled abs and the inner thigh gap. Those UFC ring girls with the perfect hair and the perfect breasts. The football cheerleaders with their whiter than white smiles and their tiny waists. Every female we see that is looked up to and admired is thin.
What happens is we have come to define health and beauty as thin and perfect. When in fact, that is not the case. But our years of believing that will take some time to convince otherwise.
I want you to ask yourself right now, "Am I healthy?" Remember your answer. We'll be back to that question shortly.
That Victoria's Secret model, that UFC ring girl, and that cheerleader are not perfect either. We all have some imperfections. Our bodies are unique and built differently.
Some of us are built with wider hips, some of us are built with smaller breasts, and some of us are built with bigger femur bones. Regardless, we are all beautiful. And those physical imperfections do not define our level of healthiness or beauty.
First, what does "body image" mean? According to Merriam Webster it means: a subjective picture of one's own physical appearance established both by self observation and by noting the reactions of others.
Ask yourself, "is my body image positive or negative?"
The key word here is subjective. Most women have a negative body image of themselves. Remember, the key word is- subjective. But if we were to show your picture to ten other people I'm sure they would have some positive things to say about you...if you were smiling. If in your photo you exuded confidence and appeared happy, others would likely react in a positive way and compliment you. If we were to show your picture to ten other people with you frowning and looking ashamed or embarrassed, they would likely have some negative things to say about you. They can sense that.
If your body image is positive, then woohoo! Why are you reading this? Most of us have a negative body image though. So what you should learn here is that you can flip those negative thoughts about yourself around and outwardly display them as positive. If you act happy and confident in your body, those actions are going to rub off on your thoughts and emotions. Try it!
Next up, what does "healthy" mean? According to Merriam Webster it means:
1. Free from disease or pain
2. Showing physical, mental, or emotional well-being
3. Beneficial to one's physical, mental, or emotional state
Ask yourself now, "Am I healthy?" I bet your answer changed. Mine did.
Even if you're not super thin, with sick pack abs, breasts that turn heads, twig thighs, and a bubble booty...you can still be healthy.
So whenever you're sitting at home ashamed by your body because it's not perfect, afraid to go to the gym because of what people will think of you, and telling yourself you're not beautiful...remember, your physical looks do not define your health. Your health may still be good if you're mentally strong, emotionally strong, and physically your body is functioning well.
Ok, so I take care of my body. I make smart choices with food and I workout frequently. Ok, I guess I am healthy. But what about beautiful?
Ask yourself, "Are you beautiful?" Remember your answer.
What does "beautiful" mean? According to Merriam Webster it means:
1. Having qualities of beauty.
Beauty means the quality of a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit.
Beauty can therefore be different for everyone. I may look at a piece of art and find it beautiful but the person next to me may be appalled by it. I may see a bright red Cuda Classic car drive down the street and find it beautiful but someone else may think it's hideous.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Remember that quote? Beauty is not objective, it is subjective.
As yourself again, "are you beautiful?" Did your answer change?
In my head, my first answer was something along the lines of yes, I am beautiful in my own way. But in comparison to Gisele Bundchen I am not as beautiful.
My new answer is, yes, I am my own kind of beautiful. And no one compares to my beauty.
When it comes to beauty, maybe I don't have that perfectly tiny waist like Gisele, that perfect wavy hair like Gisele, or her perfect symmetrical face. But what I do have is my body: the body God blessed me with. It is one of a kind. And no other woman will ever have my beauty. My unique freckle on palm is beautiful. My overly big brown eyes are beautiful. My unique little angel hairs around my face that can't be tamed are beautiful. Those are the little things I once found weird. But I learned my husband found them beautiful and charming. I realized, they are a part of me and my uniqueness. They make me beautiful. I am beautiful. So are you. We are equally beautiful.
Being "in shape" does not look a certain way. Getting in shape isn't always about hitting that number on the scale. Consider other improvements. For example, maybe after making more healthy decisions in your life, your blood work improved, you can now pickup your big lazy dog, you can now sleep eight hours a night, or maybe you can climb a flight of stairs without feeling like you're suffocating. You are becoming healthier.
Let's summarize what we've covered:
-Even if you don't look like a model, you can still be healthy and beautiful.
-If you stop comparing yourself to others, you'll be able to open your eyes to see why you truly are beautiful.
-You can be healthy at any size.
How can we prevent future young women from developing distorted body images? We can be transparent and honest.
No one is perfect. Share your imperfections, share your struggles, and let people know you are real and not some plastic Barbie doll that is perfect in every way.
Share your wrinkles, share your night out eating a burger, share your fat roll when you sit down. Or what about cellulite and stretch marks? Join me, Chrissy Teigen, Kayla Itsines, Chady Dunmore, and Nicole Mejia in sharing our photos of imperfections. From the outside, someone may look perfect. But remember, what most people post on their social media are only the best photos with the best lighting and photoshopped edits. Even the top models have flaws. It's time to share them and prove to other young women around the world that no one is perfect and we are all beautiful in our own way.
Bring some #selflove into your life.
It's time to start healing. I want you to grab paper and a pen and write down ten things you love about yourself (physically, mentally, and/or emotionally). Post that on your mirror along with this quote "I am beautiful" as a daily reminder. Each and every day, say that to yourself. The more you say it, the more you'll believe it, and the more you'll live it. That confidence you've built up will start to shine and the people around you will notice. It may even be contagious!
So please...be authentic, be honest, and most importantly be you. You are beautiful.
Stephanie Dorworth is the Founder of Beautiful to the Core. She is a Doctor of physical therapy, Pilates instructor, Internationally published fitness model, and Freelance health & fitness writer. She is passionate about empowering other women to lift heavy, practice flexible dieting, and love their bodies.