Defining Body Confidence

By Rebekah Hibbert, Guest Blogger October 17, 2015

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image via vanityfair.com

Women need to see more images like the ones Demi Lovato did for her Vanity Fair photo shoot; putting real body confidence on display. She shared honest pictures of a woman’s body and it was beautiful. Yet we keep sending a mixed message about body confidence and I am tired of it.

The majority of what is sold as body confidence is contradictory. There are some public figures who claim to be body confident, and yet bombard us with images that are photoshopped, wearing things like waist trainers, and then boast about being on extreme diets. How do these things makes anyone body confident?

We all have insecurities, I don’t think there is any doubt about that. Especially being a female, it can feel like constant scrutiny to look a certain way and to maintain it all the time. So when we are shown women who are supposed to be body confident, doing extreme things to look “better,” I believe we are portraying a terrible message– one that says, in order to be body confident, you have to have this mythical “perfect body.”

We are teaching young females to do some dangerous things with their bodies and then selling this as body confidence.

We are not teaching young women to love what they are now. We are not reminding them that there is no such thing as a perfect body. We are definitely not encouraging healthy bodies by encouraging extreme measures. In fact, portraying those as the answers to a happier and healthier body are much more likely to cause adverse effects for the young female, potentially leading  to harmful behaviors such as disordered eating. We are teaching young females to do some dangerous things with their bodies and then selling this as body confidence.

My whole professional career I have been surrounded by female athletes who scrutinize every calorie they take in because the message being relayed to them is “less is more.” They have no idea how they are failing their bodies and athletic abilities by not consuming nearly enough calories. I have had more heart to hearts than I care to count, that all involved dangerous eating behaviors. So many of them come back to these photoshopped images, the extreme diets, or the use of weight loss products.

These women who are selling body confidence and then go to extreme measures to chase the “perfect body” are really profiting on inducing insecurity and fear in a lot of women. Maybe what is most disheartening is that these beautiful, smart women are still buying into society’s pressure and in turn teaching others to do the same– whether they mean to or not.

Smart women are still buying into society’s pressure and in turn teaching others to do the same– whether they mean to or not.

Confidence in one’s body is not about living up to anyone else’s standards. And it is not about selling dangerous behavior to others. It is not marketing extreme measures as some type of answer to low self confidence. Chasing the ‘perfect body’ will not bring higher confidence; constantly chasing the unattainable will bring poor self esteem, because you will never feel good enough. I think any of us that have wasted time chasing the myth of the “perfect body” can speak to the fact that it is a dead end, full of frustration and self loathing.

The message has to change. We need more images like Lovato’s or Aerie’s no photoshopping campaign. It is about teaching girls to love who they are. It is about showing them healthy behaviors. It is about real body confidence– the kind that can’t be sold or bought, but rather comes when we learn to embrace our real selves.

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About Rebekah

REBEKAH_HIBBERT_writer_bio.jpgRebekah works in Sports Medicine. It is her hope to represent the ‘real’ girl’s daily struggles and triumphs. In her free time you can find her running, lifting weights, reading, writing or trying new restaurants with her husband.

 

Every girl is a work in progress. If you need more help, click here.

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