As a doctor, I know a lot of women aren’t satisfied with their bodies. But I wasn’t prepared for the shocker in a recent issue of The Journal of Women & Aging.
According to the study, almost 9 out of 10 American women over 50 have a negative body image. And among the 12% who are happy with their overall size, almost all had specific body complaints – such as their skin, belly or face.1
In other words, American women over 50 have a negative body image.
This may be good news for high-priced spas and gyms. But it’s profoundly sad for the millions of women who should be enjoying the freedoms that come with maturity.
For most of human history, gray hair was a sign of wisdom, and grandparents were revered and respected. Younger women sought the advice and experience of society’s grandmothers.
Somewhere, we lost those values. And to make things worse, most women’s natural bodies are now portrayed as unattractive.
At least part of the problem lies with mass media. And a Harvard study revealed this dramatically.
In the island nation of Fiji, television was rare in 1995. Ten years before, many islanders didn’t even have electricity. Curvy women were considered beautiful. And eating disorders were almost unknown.
But in 1998 – just three years after television use began to spread – more than 1 in 10 of Fiji’s teenaged girls suffered with eating disorders.2 The girls had become obsessed with the current Western standard of beauty.
The problem is only about 2% of women are naturally rail-thin like the supermodels and actresses we see in magazines and on TV. Even many of those actresses and models have to starve themselves to maintain such a thin figure.
But you’re bombarded with these images day in and day out. You’re told time and time again that being skinny as a rail is “normal” and “beautiful.”
It’s not. In fact, being underweight has been linked to muscle wasting, hair loss, immune system problems, and more.
It’s better to focus on being healthy than on a specific weight. And understanding that more women are born to be a size 12 than a size 2 is a start.
Here are a few tips to help you feel better about who you are, so you can get more enjoyment out of life…
- Take care of the things you can control without risking your health: Stay active, eat a low-glycemic diet, moisturize your skin, take appropriate nutritional supplements, etc.
- Apply the Golden Rule to your body image. Talk about your body the way you’d want others to. Focus on what you like best about yourself.
- Don’t take fashion and lifestyle magazines too seriously – or focus on the bodies in American films and television. Remember: Those women are less than 2%.
- Cultivate an interest in foreign movies. Japanese and French movies, especially, are more likely to depict women over 50 realistically.
- Wear flattering clothes that fit. The styles that look great on size 2’s don’t always translate well to a size 10 or 12.
In spite of what your TV may be telling you, there’s more than one definition of beautiful. And true beauty starts with how you feel about yourself inside.
Yours in continued good health,
Best Life Herbals Wellness Team
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1 Runfola, C.D., et al, “Characteristics of Women with Body Size Satisfaction at Midlife: Results of the Gender and Body Image (GABI) Study,” Journal of Women & Aging. 2013; 25(4): 287-304.
2 Ireland, C., “Fijian girls succumb to Western dysmorphia,” Harvard Gazette. Mar 19, 2009.
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