Perception is everything. Body image, how we see ourselves, and how we feel about our bodies are all perceptions. We compare our bodies to irrational and unachievable standards, standards set by the fashion and entertainment industries, and we don’t think we measure up. The madness needs to stop. I applaud Mattel for Barbie’s makeover and the makers of various other products for women that promote the beauty of women regardless of size, shape, age, or any other insane societal measure. Beauty comes from within. The flesh surrounding the beauty is temporal. The flesh changes throughout life and eventually dies, but the beauty, the spirit within, is eternal and lives on.
My recent health scare changed my perspective on a few things. Prioritizing is easier when there is the very real possibility that one may not survive. I had been on the Keto diet for a little over a month. Was the diet the sole reason my potassium and sodium levels dropped to critical levels? No, but it likely didn’t help the situation. I had done my research, was armed with the necessary apps to track my macro intake, carefully planned meals, and in the end, lost only a few pounds. Was it worth it? No, because I do believe it contributed, although we are still looking for an underlying cause that remains elusive.
We have a dietitian at work who knows her stuff. She sent out a timely email on National No Diet Day. It was one of those God moments for me because I needed to read and heed. The email was about the older population, those 65 and over who suffer from eating disorders. I’m not 65 yet, but getting close. Anyway, the point was that as we age, we don’t let go of our weight goals, however insane they may be. We are not meant to weigh what we did in high school or any other time we believe we were our thinnest and most acceptable selves. Even then, many of us weren’t satisfied. We still thought we looked fat. That is not a bodyweight problem, that is a dysmorphic body image problem.
Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) falls into the obsessive category of disorders. It is considered a mental health issue although it is thought that 1 in 50 people are affected in some way with BDD. Weight is only one of the areas we obsess over. BDD manifests in varying degrees from feeling overly self-conscious on a bad hair day to having multiple plastic surgeries to correct perceived flaws. It is reported that Joan Rivers had over 700 plastic surgeries in her lifetime.
One study found that 70% of women over 50 were trying to lose weight, and 13% had symptoms related to eating disorders. In women 60-70 years old, studies found that 80% were trying to control their body weight, and 60% were unhappy with their bodies. Many of these cases started in adolescence and young adulthood, however, late-onset eating disorders are 69% more common in the elderly than in the younger population.
How much time do we spend obsessing about not measuring up because we are carrying a few extra pounds? Too many. Living life is more than a number on a scale, more than a size on an article of clothing. Why are we so focused on numbers? Shouldn’t we focus on our health? Eating healthy foods, getting some exercise daily, whether it be a walk, yoga, or a trip to the gym, is more important than a number on a scale.
The people who love us see us as a whole person – mind, body, and spirit. People who choose to see only our earth suits are missing out on the awesome people we are. Pity them. Don’t buy into the narrow mindset of the importance of appearance and meeting arbitrary and unreasonable standards. Our bodies are wonderfully made, fashioned by Divine Love. Celebrate your awesomeness! You are much more than a number on a scale…..