I am a psychologist with thirty years of experience yet I suffered early on with issues about body image. During my teenage years some of my classmates thought it was acceptable to occasionally call me ‘big butt’ in jest. I never knew how to respond to this name calling and inevitably felt humiliated. In time I became increasingly self-conscious and self-loathing about my body.
Once I shared these memories with a dear girlfriend and the way it affected my self-esteem. She listened with compassion and then joked that I just always needed to back out of a room. That way no one would notice. We laughed until tears rolled down our cheeks. It still hurt.
Some years ago while at a high school reunion in New York City I overheard a conversation between two male classmates, “If only she could get rid of that big butt she would have a beautiful body.”
I was a psychologist, professor, speaker, writer and mother of two beautiful children. In their eyes I still was ‘big butt’. They could not see me for who I really am with my successes and accomplishments.
It has taken years of struggling and inner work to appreciate myself inside and out. Amazingly their comments did not carry the old familiar sting of the past. I visualized giving birth to my beautiful children, taking long walks in the woods, swimming in the ocean and all the ways my body has and continues to serve me.
Affirmations were a powerful factor in internalizing this sense of personal worth that transcended the size of my tush. I repeated to myself, “I feel beautiful inside and out.” Eventually I owned those words. Not in the way one thinks of it in the media, but in an inner way, appreciating my body for carrying me through the years and continuing to do so.
I have treated thousands of women for all types of issues, challenges and losses. It seems that regardless of the reasons they enter the therapeutic or coaching relationship, invariably they have concerns about their bodies. Most women have a negative image of their bodies, which is often accompanied by a sense of self-deprecation.
Our culture feeds into this idealized vision of the way a woman is supposed to look. The lens of almost every form of media brutally feeds into a woman’s distorted sense of self.
Women need to realize their beauty, strength and empowerment by refusing to accept these biased perceptions and embrace the true beauty that is… Our value goes far beyond the size of our butts.
What’s the story with your body image?