Tag Archives: self-confidence

Celebrity Body Image Role Models

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In a recent article, I wrote about a few of my personal “body image role models,” women who embody healthy body attitudes and have helped me to cultivate similar perspectives.  Now it’s time to consider the celebrities…

We often hear about the negative effects of the media and the damage created by trying to live up to celebrities in terms of beauty and thinness.  While it’s true that many stars are not good role models for young (and older) women, there are some women in the limelight who possess refreshingly positive attitudes related to weight and body image.

Today’s post shares a few quotes from some of my celebrity body image role models, as well as my commentary on what they had to say.   The women quoted represent various professions – an athlete, a model, a singer, and a reality TV star – but they all have powerful insights to share with those who are working to rehabilitate a negative body image.  It is my hope that you will gain a few tidbits of wisdom or “aha moments” from reading the quotes below.

Beautiful Inside and Out!

 “What I’d like to teach my daughter about self-image and self-esteem is that you’re beautiful on the inside and the outside, and not to get obsessed with pictures that are out there in magazines of skinny models.  I had an eating disorder in college and wanted to look like those models and be thin.  So I’ll probably share that experience with her and let her know that you’re beautiful just the way you are.”  – Dara Torres, Olympic swimmer and mother to a 6 year-old daughter

I have been a fan of Dara Torres for years, both for her athletic prowess and her tenacity to keep pushing herself to succeed at an age when most people in her sport have hung up their goggles.  Now I can add another item to my list of reasons for admiring this remarkable woman.  She is striving to cultivate a healthy body image and self-esteem in her young daughter and hopes to spare her from the pain that she herself endured while growing up.

Parents really can have a positive impact on their daughters and help mitigate some of the damage caused by the unrealistic standards perpetuated by the media and entertainment industries.  Dara is sending a positive message to her daughter that we should cultivate both inner and outer beauty – and above all, self-acceptance!

A Healthy Perspective on Aging

“I don’t have anxiety about [getting older], so I’m not running to get Botox.  Maybe that will change, but I don’t think so.  I feel comfortable in my skin and comfortable with aging, so I think it’s okay that I get wrinkles.”  – Heidi Klum, supermodel and host/producer of “Project Runway

Heidi Klum has always looked beautiful, healthy, and vibrantly youthful.  Her attitude toward aging is a healthy one.   It may help that her heritage is German instead of American.  I’ve found that European women don’t tend to be as obsessed as American women with being wrinkle-free, perhaps because older people are celebrated more in other cultures than here in the United States.

Whatever the reason for Ms. Klum’s attitude on growing older gracefully, it’s a welcomed and refreshing message!  I join her in avoiding Botox and other such anti-aging treatments.  I do my best to take care of my skin, but I’m a 46 year-old woman and it’s okay for me to have some wrinkles!  I don’t need to look like I’m 20; I just want to look like the best possible version of myself.

Accentuating the Positive

 “I am not a sample size, and I am okay with that.  I’m good with who I am.  I like to accentuate the positive.  My waist is something I love to show off.  I’m also happy that more and more women are embracing who they are, because everybody’s different.  You don’t have to be a size 0 to be pretty.  You just have to be comfortable with who you are.” Jordin Sparks, American Idol winner

I think that all women should strive to identify and accentuate the positive aspects of their bodies instead of simply lamenting the aspects they feel are flawed.  This is something I encourage all women to do!  We all have positive attributes that can be highlighted and celebrated, regardless of our size.

Most women are unable to achieve a model-thin figure without excessive diet, exercise, and obsession, but we all can look our best and show off our best traits.  For me, it’s my arms and shoulders.  I am blessed with toned and slender arms and broad, square shoulders.  I do my best to highlight those features through the way I dress.  I am also grateful for my height and long limbs.  I am much happier when I reflect upon my positive attributes than when I curse my hips and thighs.  It’s all about where we place our focus!

Embracing Your Curves

“All my friends were super-skinny.  I watched my mom and she helped me with my outlook.  I have curves and that’s never going to change, so I’d better start embracing them.”  – Kim Kardashian, reality TV star and entrepreneur (on growing up in Hollywood)

Kim Kardashian is echoing the positive message expressed by Jordin Sparks above.  Ms. Kardashian not only embraces her curves, she is known for them and has become a very wealthy woman as a result of being a “poster child” for curves in Hollywood.

I, for one, am happy to see women with curvier bodies becoming famous and being regarded as sexy and beautiful in our society.  Had Kim Kardashian hidden her curves or dieted down to a standard Hollywood body type, I doubt she would be as successful and famous as she is today.  She also embodies confidence and self-acceptance, which are as sexy as her curves, in my opinion.  Kudos to Kris Jenner, Kim’s mom, for teaching Kim to be proud of who she is and to love herself and her curves.

Who Are YOUR Celebrity Body Image Role Models?

I know that there are many more celebrity body image role models out there. If you have any quotes you’d like to share, I welcome your feedback and may even include your quote in a future post.

Hope, Inspiration, and “The Biggest Loser”

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I am a long-time fan of the reality show, “The Biggest Loser.”  I’ve watched all but one of its nine seasons and I frequently find myself in tears as I watch this truly inspiring show.  Last night, as I watched the penultimate episode of the ninth season, I was moved to write about my appreciation for this show I’ve come to love.

The four remaining contestants all went home for a month, where they trained to run a marathon while continuing to focus on losing weight to vie for the title of “The Biggest Loser” (and the accompanying quarter million dollar prize).  Two of the contestants were still close to a hundred pounds overweight when they left the Biggest Loser Ranch.  Yet, they all returned and finished the marathon!  The final two marathon finishers ran across the finish line hand in hand, and I bawled like a baby while watching this touching moment.

Moved to Tears

Why was I brought to tears last night?  Why am I brought to tears by this show virtually every week?  Because “The Biggest Loser” exemplifies the power of the human spirit, the power we all have within us to overcome our greatest challenges and triumph over adversity.  The shear fact that four individuals who were close to death’s door from the side effects of obesity only six months ago were able to finish a full marathon is inspiration at its best.

I have always been a champion of human change and an advocate of the sentiment that change is possible for all who seek it out.  Here were four people who had veered extremely far off the path of health and well-being.  I’m sure there were many people who knew them who had written them off as “lost causes.”  It wouldn’t have been too much of a stretch to write off 31 year-old Michael, who tipped the scales at 526 pounds at the age of 31.  Likewise, who would have thought that 27 year-old Ashley, who smoked and drank heavily and weighed in at 374 pounds, would have turned her life around?  Yet, both of them did, as did their co-finalists Koli and Daris.

Lessons from “The Biggest Loser”

Why am I writing about “The Biggest Loser” in The Healing Project?  Well, some of you may feel that it’s too hard for you to change.  After all, you’ve been the way you are for many years and you may feel too far gone to turn it around.  You’re stuck in your ways and you feel little hope of becoming unstuck.

I know how that feels, as I’ve felt that way myself many times over the years.  I may not be obese, but I’ve certainly had my share of struggles around weight and food, plus I’ve grappled with a number of other addictive issues in my life.  Yet, as I watched those four formerly obese people cross the finish line after running a marathon, I was filled with hope and inspiration.  If they can overcome their challenges, why can’t I?  Why can’t all of us?

It may not be your goal to lose over a hundred pounds or run a marathon, but I’m guessing you have your own challenges that are equally as daunting.  I know that when I think about overcoming my laundry list of health issues, I feel overwhelmed and discouraged.  But if Michael, Ashley, Koli, and Daris can run a marathon, I can restore myself to full and vibrant health, as well as overcome the other challenges included in my healing project.

Be Inspired, Believe in Yourself!

Let yourselves be inspired!  Believe in yourselves. There is hope for all of us to heal all of our ailments within and without.  Let the chorus of “The Biggest Loser” theme song guide you…

“What have you done today to make you feel proud?”

Do one thing, however small, each day to inspire yourself, to move yourself forward toward your goals, and you will get there!

Body Love, Self-Love

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Body Love and Self-AcceptanceNOTE: This article was originally posted to my previous blog, “The Healing Project,” in May 2010.

If someone were to ask you if you love yourself, how many of you would reply with an enthusiastic “Yes”?  How about if you were asked if you love your body?  I know that for most of my life, I would have found both questions absurd.  I definitely and unequivocally did not love myself or my body.

For years, I was my own worst critic.  I would unleash a torrent of criticism upon myself on a daily basis that I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy.  In fact, I was my own worst enemy.  Nothing I could do was ever good enough for me; my standards were impossibly high and there was no way I could reach them.  While my targets for accomplishment and success were virtually unachievable, my standards for my body and physical appearance surpassed them by leaps and bounds.

Specter in the Mirror

I would look in the mirror and pick myself apart mercilessly.  My hair was frizzy, my face was blotchy, my nose was too big, my hips were huge, and my thighs were completely unacceptable!  These are just a few of the criticisms that would play like a broken record inside my mind.  My self-criticism and overall negative attitude toward my body propelled me into a long battle with anorexia and bulimia, a struggle which almost killed me during my teens and twenties.  Even after I managed to pull myself out of the depths of that battle, the criticism did not end.  I was ruthless in the way that I’d pick myself apart, and all compliments from others would be quickly negated inside my mind.  I just wasn’t pretty enough, thin enough, firm enough, or anything enough…

The Toll of Self-Abuse

The years of criticizing my body have taken a toll on my psyche and my health.  Although I have become decidedly more kind toward myself and my body in recent months (partly as a result of my healing project), the damage has been done. I am convinced that the laundry list of health issues from which I suffer can be attributed to the years of self-flagellation.

Think about it… How would you respond to a person who continuously berates you?  Would you thrive and shine in that person’s presence, or would you wither and fade?  The way in which my body has responded to my abuse is no surprise to me.  As Louise Hay and other wise spiritual teachers have written, our thoughts create our reality.  The reality of my physical body has been shaped by what I have continually thought over the years.

My husband has frequently commented on how mean I was to myself in my words.  Sadly, my unkind words paled in comparison to the ferocity of my internal dialogue.   I have created my poor health of the present time.  I take responsibility for that, as sad and defeated as it makes me feel today.

Learning to Love Myself

I am not an unkind person.  In fact, I believe I have a good and kind heart.  It is time for me to direct that kindness and compassion toward myself.  It is time for me to treat myself the way I would treat a person I deeply love.  In truth, I have learned to love myself in recent years.  I have learned to appreciate my uniqueness and my good qualities.  I am finally able to say – and mean – those simple but difficult words, “I love myself.”  I can even speak those words while staring into my own eyes in the mirror, yet tears always well up in those same eyes.   Likewise, I find myself becoming tearful as I express these sentiments today…

Ending the War with Self

The tears are for the years of self-hatred, for the wasted time during which I was at war with myself and my body. Although I would love to recapture those lost years and circumvent my current health challenges, I can only live in the moment and move forward.   Hopefully, I have many years ahead of me during which I can live peacefully with myself and my miraculous body which has survived despite years and years of punishing abuse.

Responsibility is Powerful

Some of you may identify with what I have written. I know that many people are tremendously hard on themselves and their bodies.  We can blame society and the unattainable standards that are set out for us by Hollywood and Madison Avenue.  But while society can and does play a role in our self-image and body image struggles, the ultimate responsibility falls upon us.  That is good news because it means that we have the power to transform our thoughts and attitudes.

Moving Forward…

How do we do that?  Let’s take some tips from Louise Hay (from “You Can Heal Your Life,” page 23):

“Loving the self, to me, begins with never ever criticizing ourselves for anything.  Criticism locks us into the very pattern we are trying to change. Understanding and being gentle with ourselves helps us to move out of it. Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked.  Try approving of yourself and see what happens.”

I Approve of Myself

I have been repeating the affirmation, “I approve of myself,” over and over inside my head for months now.  It is a simple affirmation that I think whenever it comes to mind.  I use this affirmation to cancel out self-criticism when I become aware that I am thinking negative thoughts about myself.  Although I know it will take time to undo the effects of my many years of self-abuse, affirming approval of myself is starting to have a positive effect on me.  I am beginning to notice my negative thoughts more readily and can more easily release them and replace them with more beneficial thoughts.  It is becoming easier for me to think kind and loving thoughts about myself.  I am experiencing small but noticeable “pockets” of inner peace in my days, and that gives me hope for the future.

Hope to Soldier On

The journey to heal my health and my life is a challenging and tumultuous road with many twists and turns.  I am humbled on a regular basis by the ebb and flow of my numerous health issues which only seem to crop up again just when I feel they may finally be behind me.  Yet I have hope and that allows me to soldier on with my healing project.

I believe that the key to healing is in self-acceptance.  In the spirit of hope, I close this post with another quote from Louise Hay, one which provides hope for us all for a peaceful and powerful future:

“I find that when we really love and accept and APPROVE OF OURSELVES EXACTLY AS WE ARE, then everything in life works.  It’s as if little miracles are everywhere.  Our health improves, we attract more money, our relationships become more fulfilling, and we begin to express ourselves in creatively fulfilling ways.  All this seems to happen without even trying.”

Handling Discouragement

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While I would love for all of my blog posts to highlight my tremendous progress and exciting wins, life doesn’t work like that.  Invariably, we all experience ups and downs, and progress occurs more like “two steps forward, one step back” than in an upward slope.  Although I posted two weeks ago about the wins I’ve experienced since starting this blog, this past week has been more of a period of discouragement.  In this post, I will share my feelings of discouragement, along with some suggestions for how to handle such times in your life.

Career & Health Woes…

One of the “wins” I shared in a previous post was that I was attracting more work projects and experiencing increased confidence as a result.  Well, that win turned out to be short-lived…  The inquiries regarding prospective work have led to dead ends and a couple of projects which I believed were “sure things” have fallen through for reasons unknown to me.

I now find myself in the all too familiar zone of uncertainty and negativity regarding work.  Despite my desire to remain positive and hopeful, I am feeling increasingly discouraged about my work prospects.  I know that it does me no good to lament my poor past choices, but I have had to stop myself multiple times from rehashing ancient history and wishing that I had taken a different path.  I sometimes find myself feeling very depressed for not being where I’d hoped to be career-wise at my age.

In addition to my career woes, a few of my health issues have flared up as of late.  I had thought that my digestive problems were mostly in the past, but I’ve been feeling extremely bloated and uncomfortable all week and have been popping antacids like candy to address the painful burning in my stomach.  The bloating has rendered many of my pants un-wearable and has me feeling fat and unattractive, a feeling I know all too well from my many years of eating disorder struggles.

The Tendency to “Snowball”

I have a tendency for my thoughts to snowball in weeks such as this one.  A few bad things happen and I start to think about all of the ways in which my life – and myself – are just plain wrong.

Instead of merely noting that it’s a “bad week,” I start to “catastrophize” and see things only becoming progressively worse.  The result is that I become paralyzed by depression and fear, do virtually nothing to improve the situation, and end up feeling much worse.

How to Deal With Discouragement

Fortunately, there IS a better way… There are some ways to deal with discouragement before you become caught up in that snowball going 60 miles per hour down a huge mountain.  Here are some tips for addressing your discouraging feelings head on:

1. Take a “Time Out”

Opt for a change of scenery.  Get outside in the fresh air or do any activity which will bring you peace and joy.  For me, a good “time out” is taking a walk along the water with my husband or visiting the mall to enjoy a movie or do some shopping. It doesn’t matter what you do, but make sure it’s something you enjoy.  Even an hour or two away from the source of your discouragement can help you to regain a more positive attitude.

2. One Day at a Time

Stop thinking so far into the future!  Adopt the wise 12-step group saying of “one day at a time.”  Plan your upcoming day, focus on what you need to do that day, and don’t worry about anything beyond that.  Life is so much easier and far less scary when taken in small “bite-sized chunks.”  Ask yourself, “What ONE thing can I do TODAY that will help me to feel more positive about my life?”  Then do that thing…

3. Get Into Action

Stop the “paralysis by analysis!”  It’s common to become paralyzed by fear and then be afraid to act.  But I’ve found that if I do even one small thing in service of my goals, I feel so much better.  Take a “baby step.”  Maybe it’s a phone call or an email, or maybe take 15 minutes to investigate something which might be beneficial to you in an area of your life that feels stuck.  Just do something!  Don’t set the bar too high, and give yourself credit for taking even a small action in the right direction.  Those small actions add up and propel you forward in life.

4. Refocus on Your Goals & Gratitude

Sometimes when we are feeling in despair, we don’t remember what’s most important to us.  It can be helpful to revisit our key goals and commitments during these times.  You ARE writing your goals down, aren’t you?  You are much more likely to achieve your goals if you put them in writing.

When you are feeling low, remind yourself of what really matters most to you.  Look at the progress you HAVE made toward your goals and look at what’s right about your life now.  Remember gratitude – we all have things for which we can be grateful.

5. Get Help

You don’t have to do everything alone!  I know it can be hard to ask for help.  It’s a very tough thing for me to do… But the people who love us want to be there for us and they want to help us during our difficult times.  Sometimes all we need to do is ask.  Call someone to talk or ask a friend for a small favor, or just ask someone to spend some time with you doing something you both enjoy.

If necessary, get help from professionals who might be able to assist you in getting unstuck.  It may be a medical professional or a service provider; there are many professionals who can help us with our various needs, and it’s often not as costly as we might think.  Remember, there is no charge to investigate available resources.  Do what you can to help yourself, but don’t be afraid to look outside of yourself when necessary.

Getting Past My Slump…

Here’s what I’ve done and will continue to do to get past my current slump.  Yesterday, I got into action and did something on which I’d been procrastinating for quite a while.  I decided upon what absolutely needed to be done in order for me to feel a sense of accomplishment.  I set a target of “good enough” instead of perfect and approached the task with a goal of finishing it yesterday.  Less than two hours later, it was done and I felt great!  One step toward becoming unstuck… I also planned a fun activity with a friend for a few days from now so I have something to look forward to.

I am taking things one day at a time as well.  To help with my health issues, I’m focusing on eating better foods and getting more rest.  To address the career challenges, I’m taking baby steps in the right direction.  I’m deciding upon a small key action to take each weekday so that I can build some positive momentum in that arena.  I’m also considering ways in which I can get help with these issues, whether it be from a health professional or a personal coach.

Hopefully, I will soon move out of my slump and start feeling positive and hopeful once again.  I know that I will have other times when I feel discouraged.  When that happens, I will take my own advice and stop those negative feelings before they stop me!