I remember at one of my 6th grade conferences, my mom near the end of the conference asked me to step out in the hallway so she could talk to my teacher alone.
Years later I found out she had talked to my teacher about concerns she (my mom) had about comments I had made about myself.
Apparently, I thought I was fat. I don’t remember much about thinking that, but I give my mom props for wanting to ask my teacher if she had heard me make similar comments at school.
My mom knew nothing good could come from a girl struggling with body image.
I grew up in the 70s and 80s, when we started to see an uptick in awareness of eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia. Societally, we were starting to get it. We were starting to see the devastation and fall-out from glamorizing Barbie doll proportions and runway model looks. (Yes, we still had a way to go in not objectifying women, as every Farrah Fawcett poster on so many boys’ bedroom walls would remind us.)
But in a sense, we were on our way to gaining some ground on body image battles.
Then in the 90s, the Internet and digital photography and digital video started to happen. We started to lose the footing we had gained in educating teen girls and young women about having a healthy and realistic self image.
We slid right into the 2000s and 2010s with an ever-increasing surplus of media, entertainment, social media and apps. Not only were we documenting ourselves and each other at a feverish pace, we also had at our disposal editing and composing tools to make everything—literally everything—look “perfect.”
Plus, social media took candidness to whole new level of insensitivity and cruelty. Many people lost all sense of integrity, posting mean comments (often anonymously) online that they would never say in person.
To say our current digital age hasn’t been good for our body image struggles would be a colossal understatement.
As someone who writes and speaks about sexual intimacy in marriage, I am well aware that “body image struggles” aren’t just reserved for teenage girls. That’s how I think back in the day we thought of body image struggles—that they were a teen or young woman problem.
I hear from plenty of 30-, 40-, 50- and 60-somethings who feel anything but confident about how they look physically…
Even with all the knowledge we have about digitally-enhanced photos. (We aren’t so easily fooled by what we see on the magazines at the check-out stand).
Even with the voices of A-list actors talking publicly about healthy body image. (Thank you Emma Thompson and Cate Blanchett for taking stands against unrealistic body image portrayal and airbrushed photos).
And even with huge corporations going to great lengths to fund and promote initiatives that emphasize inner beauty and value. (Thank you Dove for your self-esteem campaign).
Yes, we’ve gained some ground in pointing out what fuels poor body image, but I don’t think the source of fuel is ever going to fizzle out. We are going to keep seeing a definition of beauty being somewhat wrapped up in having the ideal waist size, perfect make-up and hair, and just-right accessories and clothes.
Sooooo… a better approach is to stop waiting for society and media to get with the program.
If you are a wife struggling with poor body image, you are going to have to take the reins. You have to own your story and your self-worth. You have to learn for yourself what true beauty is. You have to decide to listen to the voices that boost your healthy sense of self and tune out the voices that diminish your worth.
You don’t need a “perfect” body to have phenomenal sex.
I have written extensively about this, because I want you to enjoy sex. I want that so badly for you. If you are steeped in feeling self conscious and in negative self-talk, it is so hard to enjoy sex.
I humbly encourage you to read these two posts:
A Body that Never Quits (one of my all time favorite posts!)
And I have an ENTIRE page with posts on body image struggles… some posts from me and some from other trusted bloggers. So many resources. You can find the page at this link.
Trust me. You don’t need a “perfect” body to have phenomenal sex.
Copyright 2020, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized.