Posts Tagged ‘diet’

The Real Truth About Beauty

May 13, 2008

In 2004, DOVE launched an exciting global study on what women around the world are saying about beauty ideals and self esteem. Because the report is wayy too lengthy for many of us to plough through, I’d like to share some key insights from this enlightening study with my dear readers and friends!

  1.  Modern definitions of beauty are too narrow, many women worldwide are protesting. Not only do many women feel that beauty ideals are too myopically focussed on physical attributes instead of encompassing so much more of who they are as women such as their happiness, kindness, confidence and dignity, many expressed their strong desire for the media to better represent women of diverse physical types, body shapes and ethnic backgrounds. (And Mariko says amen to that! 🙂 )
  2. Beauty beliefs learnt early in life between the ages of six and seventeen have a huge impact on how women feel about themselves and their lives.
  3. Nine in ten women want to change some aspect of their appearance – with the greatest dissatisfaction being expressed over body weight and shape. (And Mariko says, “Well, looking at the fashion industry today, that doesn’t come as a surprise, does it?”)
  4. A woman’s sense of self worth varies with her appearance satisfaction. (And Mariko is thinking that it’s so sad that a woman should peg her self worth to her appearance. Yet, it’s a painful truth, isn’t it? That a large part of a woman’s identity, especially a young woman, is her sexuality and attractiveness. Can the hypersexuality of women in the media be blamed for this? Or is it an inevitable manifestation of traditional gender roles? )
  5. When women feel good about themselves, they are more active as a result of feeling more confident and loved. On the other hand, when women feel bad about themselves, they express feelings of insecurity and tiredness and seven out of ten women actually withdraw from normal activities because they feel badly about their appearances! The activities they avoid when feeling bad about themselves include giving their opinions, going on dates, physical activity, going to school or work and going on job interviews! Instead, they turn to extreme self modification (such as disordered eating), watching TV, sleeping or napping and staying home. (Mariko can’t agree more with this finding because she remembers withdrawing for a period of time immediately after her break up when she was feeling bad about herself. 😛 )
  6. Family and friends are extremely important for a woman struggling with a low self esteem. That’s right, women worldwide have confessed that when feeling bad about themselves and their looks, their first step is to reach out to family and friends for support, understanding and encouragement. Mothers and girl friends, they say, are the most powerful shapers of a girl’s feelings about beauty and body image. (And Mariko says, “Amen to that because family and friends so so rock! They really do. I don’t know where the hell I’d be if not for their love and support!”)
  7. Last but not least, what exactly do the women of the world wish to say to their fellow women??? Yes, it is their wish that parents and schools will talk to young girls early on in their lives about what real beauty is. Not only do they hope that young girls will eventually adopt a more realistic and healthy body image, it is also their vision that women of the future will learn to eat heathily rather than dieting and embrace the idea that beautiful women come in different shapes, sizes and colors! (Mariko says amen to that!! But she’s also wondering how long it would all take for that vision to come true…)

For more on the Campaign for Real Beauty by Dove, do visit: www.campaignforrealbeauty.com

 

 “What really stands between you and your beauty? Actually, nothing more than the courage to believe you possess it.”

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This is My Story; What’s YOURS?

May 10, 2008

Childhood – The Earliest Seeds

As an overweight kid, I could never escape the clutches of the Trim and Fit Club! Everyday, I had to report to a designated area in the canteen (in full view of other kids) where I spent recess with other overweight children like myself and the teachers would monitor whatever we ate. 

I was miserable because it was bad enough that I could never spend recess with my friends but on top of that, I had to spend recess with other overweight children in full view of the entire school!!! Even now, I remember crawling towards the Trim and Fit area ashamed, embarassed and feeling extremely small. After reporting to the teacher, I slunked in a corner hoping against hope to escape from notice.

Did this experience leave an indelible mark on my self esteem? Maybe; maybe not. But what I do know is that from a young age, I was different – because of my weight.

This went on for many years but the year I hit twelve years of age, enough was enough. The crash dieting began. Only one meal a day and I started running at a feverish intensity – once in the morning and once at night. Within months, I lost 11kg. Teachers began to worry and my parents were called in. But nothing could stop me. I was determined to do anything to be normal.

Over time, I eventually fell out of the Trim and Fit Club because I was not only no longer overweight but I was UNDERweight. And yes, I got my wish of finally being able to spend recess as a normal kid but it was never the same again. In my heart, I was an ugly duckling who had clamoured its way into the world of the normal. Although many boys started showering me with attention and I was nicknamed the belle of the school, deep inside, I would always be nothing more than an ugly duckling playing swan.

Rejection (s)

Of course other events continued to punctuate my growing up years but if I were to expound on all, it’d be a thesis!!! 🙂 Through it all, though, my self esteem remained extremely low. In secondary school (junior high school), I was actually a candidate for prom queen (surprise!!!) and I was doing well both academically and socially. But sadly, my self esteem never improved.

The huge blow came when I moved into junior college (senior high school) and started falling for this guy we shall name J. He was a very good friend and the feelings grew as we became closer friends over time. By this time, I had gained some of my original weight and was no longer the slim and beautiful prom queen candidate in secondary school. Instead, I was hoping to be loved and accepted for who I was. Fully aware that I was the girl-next-door kind of girl guys enjoyed having as a friend but rarely fell for, I knew better than to betray my feelings for J. Nonetheless, as a streetwise young man, he knew.

One day, I was returning to the classroom after visiting the restroom and only J and his friends were in the classroom at that time. None of them had any idea that I was there and as many normal growing up guys enjoyed doing, they were discussing girls. 

“J, I see you’re quite close to Mariko huh?? Any chance or not?? That you both will be together?”, J’s friend teased. 

Mariko? Oh please. I would never fall for her. She’s not even pretty and what’s more, she doesn’t play sports – So boring. She’s too fat for me too. I like slim girls with big eyes and long hair.” 

Thereafter, I stopped hanging out with J and his friends and I never spoke to any of them ever again. Did they ever find out that I had overheard their conversation? I will never know. But from that day onwards, the crash dieting and self mutilation began again. And till today, J’s words remain deeply ingrained in my heart.

Craving for love and acceptance, when I was slim again after several months of crash dieting, I started dating around and eventually landed myself in my first relationship. It was self affirming at first but the relationship winded to an end amidst violence and cheating after 4.5 years.

Today, I stand alone struggling with a staggering self esteem and a deeply wounded heart that has probably never healed completely ever since that day when I had overheard J’s comments to his friends.

The one important lesson I’ve learnt is : That we should never pin our self esteem and self worth on anybody other than ourselves. Because one day, that very person will disappoint us and we’ll only end up with more pain and an even more damaged self esteem.

Yes, this is my story – unabridged and painfully honest. What’s yours?