At the end of each semester, my body image students write a process paper where they synthesize their learning- both personal and academic- for the semester. These papers are always a delight to read and there is so much wisdom in them that I just have to share a fraction of it (with my students’ permission, of course) with you. Here, some wise words from my students this semester. May they buoy and give you hope the way they did me.
My “a-ha” moment came during this lecture as I jotted down this statistic: “57% of all girls have a mother who criticizes herself in front of them.” That’s where the vicious circle begins. I thought to myself. A mother who does not feel good about herself will raise a daughter who does not feel good about herself. How could she, if she has never had that positive model in her life? Then that daughter will have her own child and the cycle starts again. Another statistic offered earlier in this lecture said that “A mother is the most positive influence of a girl’s feelings about her body image.” Imagine what a difference it would make if every mother felt strong, confident, and proud of her body, and raised her daughters to feel the same way? ~Carley F.
Many things are still unclear to me, but I know this: The first step to healing is recognition. Body Image class really helped me to question everything in my life. At first, I hated it. I hated admitting I had unrelenting problems. But I wanted to seek answers, for my own peace of mind. I was finally ready to heal myself, after all the years of pain. I was ready to leave my old life, one of a constant flux of extreme highs and low lows, in the past where they belonged. As we tackled every subject, beginning with the perils of childhood through the influence of media on body image, I started to understand and accept the truth. For so long, I’d be running away from the truth. If some aspect of my life wasn’t to my liking, I’d pick up and walk the other direction – an extremely cowardly response to anything in life.
My body image today is significantly more positive than the start of the semester. Our Beautiful You project was a great, eye opening thing to fall into my lap… I found that the more I wrote in my journal, the more I began to think about myself and delve into the deeply rooted issues that I had wanted to stay at the surface. As I made lists, goals, and processed experiences, I found my mood more elevated and focused. I started to rediscover my personality. The curious girl who lives to discover, to learn, and to love the new and old. The girl before she started caring what other people thought about her. I told myself: to all the ones who have tried to put me down in my lifetime, to hell with them, because rest assured, none of them know me better than I know me now. ~ Linda
Treating my body better has become easier as I think about myself in a less negative manner. I now know that my body is not something I should mistreat just because I am unhappy with its appearance. It is my responsibility to decide the best way to care for myself and to take initiative when I notice that my body is in need of something. Before this class, I never understood that it was up to me to make sure my body was receiving the best treatment and that punishing myself would only make me unhealthy and miserable. ~Lauren C.
My eyes were opened to how unrealistic my expectations of myself really were. While I still have the innate desire to push for perfection, I have also learned that it is not always possible, and because of that I have become more relaxed in dealing with myself. ~Lauren M.
I always felt that “if only I lost (insert ridiculous amount of pounds here), then I would be so much happier,” or “if only I looked like this or that then I would be satisfied and life would be so much more awesome.” In reality, fixing the outside will not fix the broken inside. Fixing the outside will most likely lead to wanting to continuously keep making changes to the outside. You have to accept and fix the inside and then maybe you can learn to love the outside just how it is. ~Myriah