Bits and Bites of Everyday Life

 

Facing down the beauty myths

Sexy and don’t even know it?

Women’s body image can be distorted

“You don’t love a woman because she is beautiful, she is beautiful because you love her.” (Author unknown)

True North Perspective

Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair is the author of The Neglected Garden and two French novels. Visit her website to learn more www.albertevilleneuve.ca.

I was reading Andrea and Claire’s column in the Metro newspaper while having lunch at the Zellers Restaurant. Funny, because my chosen subject for this week’s article is women’s body image! And bang! Here was a perfect example of a young woman who would like to start dating again but hasn’t done so for “couple of years” because of her weight.
 
She says she is very sociable, has lots of friends and people compliment her on her looks ... but still, she is “all freaked out about getting close to someone”. She is worried that men will not see her for the wonderful person she really is. She signs: Dateless.
 
Andrea advises that the “loser” mentality has to go. She suggests that Dateless practice with whatever makes her feel “gorgeous, vibrant and alive” ... until, says Claire “It dawns on you that you are gorgeous, strong and happy.”
 
Dateless isn’t the only one who feels she doesn’t measure up to the Victoria’s Secret “Angel collection” or to the Barbie-like images of stars and models that constantly populate the TV and movie screens and the fashion magazines. They tell us this is what we should strive for without admitting this isn’t what models and movie stars really look like. Every magazine image has been airbrushed and modified.
 
“The media create this wonderful illusion – but the amount of airbrushing that goes into those beauty magazines, the hours of hair and makeup! It’s impossible to live up to, because it’s not real.” (Actress Jennifer Aniston for Vanity Fair, May 2001)
 
Thank God for the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty! Every woman should watch their video called Evolution where they really show you what the model looks like when she enters the studio salon. You are privy to all the beauty alterations that are done. And once this is done and the photo shoot has happened, they show you all the photo touch-ups. What you see in the finished product is not what the young woman looks like.
 
Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair with Roslyn Franken at the Ottawa Independent Writers book fair on Sunday, November 20, 2011, in Ottawa.  

So forget about that jazz! You need to change the way you think about your body! I spoke with Roslyn Franken at the Ottawa Authors and Artisans Fair last Sunday. When I told her about my next topic, she agreed to an interview. I met Roslyn five or six years ago. She is a real role model: a motivational speaker, author, coach and radio host who helps people “lighten up for good”. She specializes in healthy eating, weight management, stress reduction and emotional resilience. She beat cancer at age 29 and won her battles with food, weight and stress at 39. She published The A List: 9 Guiding Principles for Healthy Eating and Positive Living to help other women in their quest to find balance and happiness. (www.roslynfranken.com)

 
Roslyn and I agree that the eternal message that women need to lose weight or stop the natural aging process by using a myriad of products and services can end up damaging a woman’s self-confidence, as we have seen with Dateless.
 
Healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes and a healthy lifestyle is key to improving one’s body image. Yes, we know that healthy eating, exercise and plenty of rest are keys to a healthy body, radiant skin and hair, energy and self-esteem… but other factors can undermine a woman’s confidence in her looks. Family and friends can have a strong influence on a woman’s self-image. A mother who says to her daughter, “If only you were prettier!” will leave a very negative influence on the way her daughter sees herself. A father’s derogatory comments will also have a strong impact. I was fortunate in the way that my father used to sneer at skinny women. He would compare them to dressed-up broom sticks and say that a beautiful woman was meant to have curves. It sure helped because later, my first husband would constantly compare me with the busty, sexy Playboy Bunnies or the Marilyn Monroe and Jane Mansfield type. I would never be tall but I had sexy legs. I wasn’t busty but I was considered very pretty.
 
This constant criticism of a husband or boyfriend or total lack of compliments can lead to a fear of abandonment in certain women, according to Roslyn. They will imagine their partner will eventually leave them because they don’t measure up to “his” standards of beauty.
I know for a fact that my first husband was just projecting his own low self-image on me and trying to take away my self-confidence.
 
Inversely, my second husband was always generous with compliments. He loved my face, my eyes, my smile, my small hands and feet (compared to his size 12, I wore tiny shoes). I am short and he was tall but he often joked that the best ointments often came in small jars. He loved the way I laughed. He loved the perfume I wore and enjoyed buying it for me. He made me feel good! He made me feel loved! I was starting menopause. My breasts were now bigger but they also came with belly fat and love handles. It didn’t matter because he didn’t care about superficial body measurements imposed by our society and the fashion world; what mattered most was the inner beauty. He often said, “You’re beautiful!” Not “I like your new jacket” but “YOU are beautiful!”
 
As a final comment, I would like to add we have a huge responsibility to our kids. Our attitude towards appearance and diet will affect the way they perceive beauty and the way they go about living their lives. Let’s not lead them to believe that everything is about weight, fashion stereotype looks and the “perfect” body. Make healthy food choices a family affair. Include exercise and sports activities in the family routine and understand that there are differences in body composition and beautiful comes in many shapes and sizes.
 
Ladies, how you feel about your body is most important. Please view the Dove video! It’s an eye opener. Gentlemen, please be generous with your compliments if you want a real woman to love you!
 
Blessings to all you beautiful women and the men who really love you.

Comments

Right on Beautiful Lady!  Now I hope everyone hears it!

Angela

Right on, Alberte! So many distorted images of the female form in the media have made both men and women forget what normal women look like. That's not to mention porn.

Scores of women end up hating their bodies and developing eating disorders or damaged relationships to food because of constant dieting. Others spend tens of thousands of dollars on plastic surgery, trying not to look their age.

Wake up!! Women are still sexy well into their middle years and longer.  And I much prefer the look of actresses who have not had a dozen Botox shots or too many facelifts.

 Thanks for this reminder.

 Sigrid

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