Thursday, November 1, 2012

Body Image

In elementary school, I had a classmate named Jessica Sachse. It was hard to have a conversation with her and not think about her physical disability, despite the fact that she is a very intelligent person with many artistic interests similar to my own.

I have not talked to Jes since high school, but a couple of years ago I read an article about her in The Star called This Isn't an American Apparel Ad. She posed for a series of ads that ran on TTC monitors to "challenge conventional notions of sexiness."

I discovered Jes has also posed naked as a way to explore herself and see what everyone is looking at when they stare at her. She has a very insightful short video called Body Image posted here (or with an analysis posted here) that explains her thoughts and feelings on her disfigured body.

What follows may sound like a lesson that is learned in an after-school special, and I don't want to come off as preachy, but in truth it is important to sometimes step back and think about where your thoughts and feelings come from when assessing your own body.

Especially when we are dieting and exercising and trying to improve ourselves as much as possible, we (or at least I do) can fall into the mentality of "no matter how hard I work I am never sexy enough, can never get my body to match the ideal in my head". But we have to remember that almost all of our ideals come from current popular culture's unattainable idea that beauty is a godly standard of perfection.

The point of dieting and exercising is to be healthy, fit, and happy, to feel good about yourself according to your own standards. It is not about trying to win a beauty contest.

Imagine how you would feel if your body was too different to even compete with conventional ideas of beauty. Then what would you think of yourself? Where would your self-confidence come from? Like Jes, I'm sure we would focus a lot more on intellectual pursuits and think of our body as simply a vehicle to get our mind from one life experience to another.

I'll admit, I'm glad I'm attractive and that other people think so. Life is easier when you visually fit in to the accepted norm and people treat you nicely because of it. But being glad you're beautiful and being obsessed with being seen as beautiful are two different things. It's helpful to be reminded by people like Jes where the boundary is and which mentality will actually make you happy.


  1. I really like this.

    Because, honestly, the sexiest thing about a person is confidence. I am for more attracted to someone who like themselves than someone who doesn't.

    After all of this hard work it is such a shame not to flaunt it.

    Everyone has things about their body they wish they could change (my boobs!). We should learn to embrace those things the same way we embrace our gender, our families and our race. It just is. Born that way. Too bad for you if you don't like it. And then we are free to revel in the things we like about our bodies (my flat stomach!).

    Looking pretty is a lot about feeling pretty.

    It's an excellent message.

    1. It is true that people who are confident get way more attention from others than people who aren't. Who gets second glances and struck up for conversation with strangers? The person who walks with their head held high, makes eye contact, and smiles even when they do something silly in public. The person who has conviction behind their choices. The person who will not back down from what they believe, who works hard to achieve their goals.

      That's the biggest benefit to exercising, I've experienced. Getting fit and burning calories is great, but the confidence that comes from completing a Jillian DVD or reaching an exercise goal is a way better boost to morale than hitting a number on the scale :)

  2. I absolutely agree with what you have said here. It is so important to be as accepting of ourselves as we are of others. You would never tell someone their thighs are too fat, so why do I always tell myself that? No one can love you more or better than you love yourself, and no one will even come close until you love yourself like you deserve to be!

    1. So true, and worded beautifully! Your last sentence sounds like something that should be put on an inspirational poster :)