My past few posts have referenced several cultural messages about women and body image. Today I want to make a list of these messages.

  1. A woman’s worth is based on how closely she fits the conventional standard of beauty.
  2. To be conventionally beautiful, a woman must never be fat, but must also not be “too thin.” She must also be perpetually young. Age is an enemy that must be constantly fought against.
  3. A woman must always be striving to better her appearance, and should never feel “happy” about the way she looks
  4. You can know things about a woman’s personality (such as whether she is controlling, bitchy or lazy) based on how she looks.
  5. How you look is still more important that what you can achieve.
  6. If you are “too fat,” then “no man will ever love you.”

 These and other cultural beliefs impact how we feel about the way we look, and also how we feel about the way others look. Women of all shapes and sizes are subjected to these messages daily. I believe that these messages are negative to all women, regardless of how close they are to fitting the conventional beauty standard.

Food for thought: What other messages do you notice regarding women and body image?

So true Ragen Chastain!

How much more awesome will the sex be when we can get over our single standard of culturally stereotypical beauty and celebrate the simple fact that bodies of all shapes and sizes are amazing, beautiful and sexy.

Read More http://www.ivillage.com/naked-truth-fat-people-have-great-sex/4-a-474196#ixzz211pav2YL

Yesterday I linked to the XOJane article by Somer Sherwood, which described a study conducted by Glamour magazine that found that the majority of women — regardless of each individual woman’s own size — used the size of other women’s bodies to make assumptions about their personalities.

What it found was that skinny women are more often thought of as mean, controlling and superficial, while fat women are seen as lazy, sloppy and slow. 

Sherwood expressed surprise that the group of women surveyed made the same assumptions about the relationship between body size and personality traits even when they had the same body type.

…even those of us who are victims of these thought systems are actually sometimes the very perpetrators of such body stereotyping. The only explananation I think if for this is that these perceptions have been so ingrained in us that we can’t help but think this way. Depressing.

She ended the article by asking commentors to share their opinions about the issue, asking, ” Do you think you subconsciously make personality assessments based on a person’s size, or is that total B.S.? (It’s total B.S., right? Please tell me it is.)”

My Take: I know in my experience this is not B.S. As a plus size woman I’ve been percieved as lazy, sloppy or slow before. I’ve also made snap judgements about others based on their size that turned out to be more about my own preconcieved notions than about the other person.

I do believe these perceptions have become ingrained in our culture, yet I strongly disagree that our thoughts are inevitable. Recognizing bias is the first step to eliminating it.

XOJane.com is fast becoming one of my favorite online communities for it’s thoughtful conversations about body image and other topics. Today I read Somer Sherwood’s post In the Fat vs. Skinny Smackdown, Everybody Loses and I strongly encourage you to read it too. I will be back tomorrow with more of my take on the piece.

Yesterday I posted a link to Ragen Chastain’s post about choosing to love your body regardless of what it looks like, and how in the end YOU are the only person that has control over that choice.

I wanted to share a few things that have helped me along in my journey to improving my body image.

  1. Taking Action: Whenever I am doing something I enjoy instead of waiting until I have the “right” body to do it, I feel much much happier. Some of these things inlcude taking up running, joining the Polar Bear Club and taking my first surfing lesson.
  2. Being Grateful: Like Ragen mentioned, taking time to focus on all the things my body can do instead of worrying so much about how my body looks makes me feel better about my body.
  3. Practicing Self Care: Getting enough sleep, seeking comfort from friends, taking time to relax. Taking care of my body makes me feel better about my body.

Your Turn: What actions or thoughts have you found that “does a body image good”?

I love this newest post by Ragen at Danceswithfat. Particularly this:

 …I’m literally the only person in the world who can decide how I feel about myself.  Nobody can crawl into my brain and force me feel any way about my body. The way that I feel about myself is an amalgamation of the opinions and thoughts that I’ve allowed myself to believe either consciously or unconsciously.

Although this post is geared to the plus size community, I fully believe the same techniques will work for anyone, no matter what their actual body size, and the message that in the end we are each responsible for choosing how we feel about the way we look is an important one.


I really enjoyed this article by Michelle, also know as The Fat Nutritionist about size discrimintion and why it is wrong. What do you think, readers?