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courtney schnee

I think we all yearn to be seen as beautiful by others and even more by ourselves. Thanks for sharing. I know you speak to so many women and even men.

Kirsten Michelle

thank you, michelle for your openess and honesty. i've struggled with these same issues most of my life. it has gotten easier, i have gotten better, but like you it goes in cycles...always cycles.
i have a daughter now. i am trying so hard to get it right for both of us.

Georgia

Thank you Michelle... That tabloid really brought up a lot of emotions for me as well... I have such a hard struggle with this one.

xoxo

carolee

my body issues are overwhelming. why does it seem like that's the one factor that can make or break our self-esteem and self-confidence. we give it too much power. this i know in my logical mind. but when i pass the reflective glass of a store front, i think: "oh, that poor woman. that woman who will never feel right."

of course, it does help to talk with other women and know that we all struggle and wish we didn't and wish the media didn't obsess about it and wish we didn't follow along and wish we could just feel pretty.

thanks for sharing this!

Frida

Argh - I hate those magazines. I feel every word in this post. Your burden is shared by so many.

Your post just made me realise one very significant silver lining to living in Afghanistan, and in other conflict-ridden countries where I've been. There may be all sorts of ways (some of them cruel) in which the powerful here control women and their bodies - but deriding them for looking like real women is not one of them. Maybe I should thank Allah for the fact that there are NO tabloids facing me when I go to the local shop.

It's a cruel and relentless assault on our sense of beauty and self-confidence as women. No wonder so many of us struggle with it. One day we will rise up against the tyranny of the tabloid!

Kerstin

I remember seeing those tabloids and having similar feelings about Kelly Clarkson being labeled as a loser when she is trying to accept herself for who she is. This is just wrong.

The obsession with weight (and being super thin) and the pressure to look a certain way (and having plastic surgery to achieve it) are most prevalent in the US, but fast catching on in parts of Europe, too.

This is a very disturbing trend as it shifts the focus away from inner values to outer appearances. A slim body is attractive because it used to be associated with health, self-care and confidence. It was achieved from within. Nowadays though being slim has become an entity in its own right, the shell that holds many empty souls, no longer the skin that reflects the precious soul inside.

There is no easy solution, no quick fix. But I think you are on the right track by accepting that this is a slow but nonetheless progressive process. I wish I had taken the time to evaluate my own problems with weight in this manner when I was in my 30s. I have always felt fat but in reality I was only ever a few pounds above my ideal weight. Never skinny with a model-like figure, but I looked fine and wish I had stopped there and then and accepted that.

Now I am in my 40s and following my move to this country of convenience food and sedentary lifestyle (poison for the somewhat lazy emotional eater who has been feeling very homesick) I have piled on the pounds and for the first time in my life I am classified obese. Now it is no longer about wanting to look and feel better, but about my health.

So my slow process begins here and I have to admit, all I see at the moment is a huge mountain that needs to be moved, and I am not sure at all that I will have the strength.

For what it's worth, I think that you are a very attractive woman, Michelle, both inside and out. Believe that the day of love and acceptance is not far away.

Star

It is difficult. Very difficult. I agree that this particular challenge will probably not go away overnight, but we can keep returning our focus to the things (and people) that encourage us.

Make those red shoes the staple in your wardrobe and buy an accessory (new jeans) that goes with them. Try to let that sexy back in!

bella

Not having been through a similar struggle, it's hard for me to completely grasp what this might feel like for you. But I understand how difficult it can be. I hope that sharing your story and your feelings are a good release for your soul and that you feel some comfort in the fact that maybe you are helping someone else with similar struggles. ~Wishing you happy days~

La'Saundra

Weight, size, beauty...I worry that, as a woman living in this society, those things will always be an issue. I will always be faced with these unattainable standards of beauty. I will always have someone else telling me what I should wear, how much I should weigh, how I should look. Self-acceptance, as you know, is work. It's a day-to-day struggle for me to completely love myself and accept all aspects of myself. I'm honestly trying to be more patient with myself.

As you take courage from others, know that others (like me!) are taking courage from you...

Lianne

Thank you for sharing this. I don't think there is an American woman alive who is 100% satisfied with her body all the time. I am a larger woman, with a large personality to match. I am 51 years old and still struggling to love myself in all ways. Thank you again for sharing your pain and your struggle with us. May we all awaken to remember we are Divine Goddesses and that we are all beautiful.

Kathleen C.

"After all if Kelly Clarkson can't live up to society's expectations how can I?"
We are bound to fail if we try to live up to the expectations of others. This means that we relinquish control of our lives and put it in the hands of others.
Your art shows your talent, your uniqueness. The world needs your unique abilities. No one can replace you.
Sexy? Why do women allow their worth to be defined by whether or not men look at them and desire to have sex with them? Elegance is far better and achievable. Everyone, whatever age, whoever they are, whatever their weight or height, can be elegant. One can be elegant in jeans, in a suit, or in a party dress.
True elegance lets the eye take in the whole person at a glance, instead of focusing on just a couple of body parts. True elegance draws the eye to the face, to the eyes, where the person shines out.
I have struggled for years with "The Dragon" of depression, and have finally found what works for me. I pray that you will, too.

shona

Great post Michelle, thank you for sharing this. Again, I say been there too! For me it is linked with my self purpose. When I am busy and engaged in life and doing what I am meant to do then I loose weight. When I am off track then I eat more and gain, then feel off track even more, a vicious cycle. All that doesn't help with the media against us too! I don't think I have ever talked to a women without body issues, it is so crazy. Great discussion here, thanks Michelle.

Melba

I struggle with this less now that I am older.

I think about 6 years ago...before I had children...I was 35 pounds lighter than I am now...and everyday of my life for almost 30 years I thought of myself as fat "I need to lose weight" was a constant mantra at any size.
Now though I don't feel fat. Which is weird.
So I just keep reminding myself it is all about my own perception.
Sometimes I think Sean thinks I should lose weight. He never says this, it is my own insecurities.
We just have to keep loving ourselves for who we are and let others love us because we Are all lovable!
and sometimes we must put blinders on to sheild ourselves from the negative media.

I know it is inticing, but I do believe like attracts like...if we are seeing and reading negative stuff about body image that is what we end up seeing in ourselves.

Great post Michelle.

Arthur

I have been clandestinely reading your blog for over a year. It’s time for me to “weigh” in. First of all, it goes without saying, that you are one beautiful women and at any weight. I am jealous as hell of your artistic and creative abilities. So much so that it hurts.

It appears that we all have a cross. It certainly is not limited to struggling with our weight. It could be an endless feeling that we do not measure up, needless worry, problems with alcohol etc. Isn’t it true that we are suspicious of people who do not appear to have any problems? I think our cross plays an essential, but mysterious, role in our journey to enlightenment. It’s really a gift, a gift that at least for me is very difficult to appreciate.

Jennifer (she said)

It seems you,like me, have worked hard on the thoughts that come up again and again, no matter how much therapy you have had or how much effort you have made.

I was given some homework this week that includes this idea: when something external happens, we may have an emotional reaction to it. That might trigger a behavior which most likely has some kind of consequence. The consequence reinforces our belief in what really started the whole thing, which is the thought that came BEFORE the feeling/reaction.

My homework for the week isn't to try to alter my thoughts (which I find exhausting to do when I'm in the middle of a reaction), but to back up from a feeling/emotion/reaction and ask myself what old THOUGHT has responded to or been triggered by an external factor. I don't have to try to change the thought, I just have to recognize where things are really coming from. And then, I can think about that thought a bit if I want.

The idea is that by doing this, and making it a habit to identify the thought, I will stop reinforcing thoughts/memories that aren't useful to me anymore. I can, perhaps, stop the typical cycle of reaction, feeling, behavior, consequence, and reinforcement.

This is not to say that all of your points about body image aren't important to consider, it's directed more at the internal stuff that you have experienced. (And I think I have shared with you or on my site that I have dealt with similar issues) so I feel ya.

xo jennifer

christina

I don't know a single woman who hasn't had some sort of issue with weight. It sucks that somehow this is a part of our culture, this insideous voice of thinness whispering in our years. The most beautiful thing about the blog world is that I only know you through the inside--thorugh the lens of your words, your heart, your photos. And the part that I know of you is GORGEOUS.

jenica

often times i will start to feel great about myself only to see a picture that someone took without me noticing... i really look like that?

or last summer when i felt like i was looking pretty good, i knew i still had a bit of tummy, but i was ok with it. i was ok at least until tons of people starting congratulating me on my pregnancy... i didn't actually get pregnant until late autumn.

it's amazing how much outside parties influence our inner selves. i've struggled especially with raising three daughters now. how can i instill a sense of self worth in them?

but i've realized that children come out knowing just how beautiful they are, it's the world that takes that away from them. so now we focus on helping them find their strengths and realizing that God made us all the way we are. beautiful in every way.

beauty isn't something that is created once we get here, it's inherent. God doesn't make mistakes. i've got a big nose and a chubby belly, but i also have killer eyes and i make really good chocolate chip cookies. i think so much of my bad body image comes from not being able or willing to admit the things that are really wonderful about myself. it's just too easy to find the negative.

you are beautiful. you are amazing. you are a deep and powerful soul. don't let yourself forget it. so go get your hot red shoes out and go buy some jeans that flatter the shape you are right now. don't worry about what size they are in comparison to where you've been in the past.

oddly enough a few days ago i was thinking about you and thinking about the very first post of yours that i commented on, a post about plastic surgery. i thought to myself that i needed to email you and tell you just how awesome i think you are. but i got busy! so just know that i am thinking of you and that you are beautiful!

brittany

it's always an issue. The thing that has helped me balance wieght issues was to stop putting creedence in society's version of acceptance and start BELIEVING the good things people were saying to me. (easier said than done) I started worrying about Health rather than Wieght and it makes a big difference. It doesn't resolve it comepletely every time, but it definately helps. I expect it to flair when I'm around my mom and sisters, because that seems to always happen for me. and I NEVER buy stupid stupid magazines like that one with Jessica simpson and kelly clarkson on the cover.

Now, if you're like me, then you're very picky about the pictures you post on your blog of yourself, but nonetheless, you are beautiful. Just so you know. and I wouldn't have known that you struggle with these issues by looking at your beautiful self.

ceanandjen

The tabloids can be terrible things indeed...but aside from that, I thank you so very much for speaking a truth that we all can relate to...how things about ourselves can cause depression and be directly related to our feelings of self worth. I just started therapy and am outpouring so much "stuff"...stuff that messes with me and my head and my own feelings of self worth and strength etc. As always, I am over here, clapping for you and reminding you how absolutely beautiful you are..on every level.

paget2002

I just happened upon your site and took a moment to read your thoughts. Like many, I completely relate. I thought it might help if I shared some of my thoughts with you.

Those of us who like beautiful things in all areas (interior design, photography, art, clothing) naturally want our own selves to measure up to that beauty. There's nothing wrong with wanting to be as beautiful as all the other things we love.

The true issue is, we cannot eat everything that is being sold to us. We were not meant to have a Frapachino every day. We live in a world of crazy super markets and amazing restaurants that have food we don't need at every turn. The food seems like part of the beauty. We get mad at ourselves for wanting it. It seems so unfair that we cannot have what seems like a few simple indugences. It may sound simplistic but we just have to stop believing we can eat everything we want and be slim. As someone who has lost over 50 pounds and kept it off, I accept now, that to look the way I know is best for me, I have to eat food that is healthy and not eat the things that are being marketed to me. I didn't even think I was over eating until I started tracking it on My Food Diary.com, and realized that the extra 200 or so calories I indulged in every day was the key. What is wrong with a small latte and a small muffin? Eaten day after day plus the other little things, mean we cannot fit into the clothes we also crave. I know you know this already, but sometimes it helps to have it validated again.

I'm just like you, I love all things in their most beautiful form, so I feel sad when I gain a few pounds because I'm not in my most beautiful form any more. So now, I just go back to eating healthy and not for emotions. I wish we could have a couple lattes, a cookie, a bagel, the calamari appetizer. But now I would rather feel healthy and look good than indulge. Our bodies were meant to eat steamed salmon, broccoli, fruit and cups of tea instead. All of this is said in kindness. I know it isn't always easy. And should anyone reading this, prefer to eat the cookies, as long as they are ok with their body and feel healthy, that's wonderful. Wishing you much good health and happiness.

ellie

dear michelle,
I've spent so much effort trying to find the quick fix, the big answer, and it just hit me that this isn't the only way, or even the best way to mend, after reading your post. Instead it's ok to accept that it might take a while, and be hard work, but you're still getting somewhere. I think you are brilliant for being honest and eloquent about your experiences - it has really made a difference to me. Thank you.
Ellie

bendingpeak

I too wish that I could pull on a pair of jeans and not worry about how tight they felt or lay the blame on the dryer. Todays society places too much pressure on teens and young women, but what about the real women? The ones who have struggled and contine to struggle, though silently due to the fact that we put on this face of normalcy. I hope you struggle is not always a struggle and that years down the line you will look back and think that 'maybe there was no poof moment, but things are much better now.'

Wenda

looks like my more meaningful comment didn't make it through my cranky computer. i won't try to recreate it a third time. maybe it's worth a post of my own. i just want to let you know i've been here connecting with this post.

chelsea

I completly understand this blog. I have been trying or working in the entertainment business for a long time whee the pressure is entirely unecessary and CONSTANT, not only that but then even having a "normal" weight and not being in entertainment theres a pressure, there's never an escape. I have struggled with weight issues, and negative emotions towards food deeply for a long time...and the truth is I dont think theres ever a time when youre just OK. when everythigis just healed forever....lik everything, there are good days and bad days...and if you can just nod at the bad days and remind yourself that they shall pass, and the feeling of contenment (no matter how fleeting) does come back, that can lift a little bit of a weight. There is never a stagnant period, we are always changing, gaining, losing, every moment...and that thought eases me a bit... Thank you for your honest post.

Hayden

This is part of our unhealthy culture unfortunately. As an overweighted person, I have learnt to ignore all the negative comments from the society. I learnt to love myself as who I am, and because of that, I started to eat healthily and enjoy life. I want to be able to do what I love to do in life. I started a healthy eating plan. The 2 articles I use:
http://lose-quick-weight.blogspot.com/2007/08/lose-quick-weight-sensible-ways-to-shed.html

http://diets-and-exercise.blogspot.com/2007/09/take-control-of-your-body-with-healthy.html)

And steps for fat loss success

http://bestways-to-losebellyfat.blogspot.com/2007/11/6-steps-to-fat-loss-success-for.html

My favorite - exercise combine exercise with weights and cardio:-
http://www.squidoo.com/turbulencetrainingreviews/

My life started to change dramatically. I eat healthy food, I spend my weekend walking in the park, enjoying the nature instead of spending time in shopping mall. Although I still have a long way to go, but I feel great! So love yourself by doing the best for your life.

All the best everyone!

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