When You Avoid Mirrors
Next difficulty, body of work. The reasons. Why are you wearing clothing that does not fit on you? When you avoid mirrors. Um, the number one thing I find, and this is with males as well as females, course there's often a greater pressure with females to look a certain way, and we all know what that is. It's young, thin, and beautiful. But as males have had increased pressure, we find that that is happening with men as well. That they also feel like they have to look a certain way. But we have to examine what is valued and what is learned. If we're being valued for the number on our scale, and we're learning that that's what matters, lose ten pounds, lose 20 pounds. She's now, our celebrity's now 100 pounds. How did she lose all this weight post-partum? Things like that. So we measure our value without even realizing it. It's very subconscious, it's also very in-your-face, based on what we see in stores, on magazines, in commercials, and we don't have to buy into that. I am not, my val...
ue is not the number on my scale. And I find that we often have an inverse relationship between a person's value and the number on the scale. That as the scale goes up, somehow we believe our value goes down. And that, we know is not the truth. We often do that to ourselves, we would never dream of doing that to another person, but we often do that to ourselves. So I did a little experiment. I was working with students when I was a counselor in high school, and middle school. I asked my middle-schoolers, young girls. The sixth graders. I had them look through a bunch of magazines. All different types, not just beauty. Finance, cars, beauty, anything, you name it. And at the end of them looking through and observing, I said, what should a man be? What were you told? And they all said the same thing. A man doesn't really have to be attractive, but he does have to have money. Well, how do you know he has to have money? Well he's in a nice car, he has a nice watch. He has a perfect suit. And they also said that he showed a physical stance of dominance. Said he was standing up, he was usually kind of bigger, stronger. Um, so this kind of aggressive quality. And then also the ability to earn. And then I asked them, well what is a woman? Tell me what a beautiful woman is. What is an acceptable woman based on your ads that you saw? And they all said the same thing. Again, a woman needs to be young, a woman needs to be thin, and she needs to be beautiful. And I talked about the posturing in the ads. I said, well what are women doing in the ads, physically with their physical body? And they all said that woman were inhabiting a passive physical stance. They were lying down, they were sitting, many of them are kind of lying across the man, or sitting in his lap, so it was really interesting. Sixth graders could see it. I did not tell them anything. I did not tell them why they were looking for what they were doing. But they figured it out. There is kind of a golden ratio of our face proportions and our body proportions. So there is some kind of understanding of what is beautiful and what looks good cross-culturally. It must be something that's in us, and it's often, we think it's due to fertility. That if there's a certain ratio, it means that a female is often more fertile, or a male is often more fertile, and therefore we just automatically find it attractive. So there is some science to the perfect proportion. But we're not talking about proportion when we talk about weight. We're talking about weight. A person could be larger or smaller and they still can maintain that proportion. So then why do we focus on the numbers? Because we're taught that. So, um, these are some of the questions I asked my clients. Is dressing difficult to you? Does the process of choosing an outfit and trying on clothes depress you? Do you avoid shopping because you can't find anything you like? Do you avoid mirrors? Do you see flaws in your body that no one else sees? Do you engage in unhealthy behaviors to change your body? When you look at media, do you often find that you feel dissatisfied with your body? Do you cover your body with things that are oversized, or dark? Do you not engage in activities because you're embarrassed by your body? Do you feel that as you gain weight, you lose your sexuality, you lose your value? Do you, by support of undergarments, do you hide your body? Do you allow your partner to see you undressed? Do you wear a bathing suit in public? With or without a cover-up? When you gain weight, do you feel like you lose your self-esteem, and when you lose weight, do you feel like you feel better about yourself? Do you feel that people notice the body parts you don't like? Do you hold onto clothes from when you were larger? Or do you hold onto clothes when you were smaller? So if you've answered yes to these questions, you have body concerns. You're feeling that, you know you're kind of feeling the body blues, or it could be that you have serious body image issues. And so you wanna make sure that if it's really impacting your daily function, that you work with a professional to manage this. So anybody feel the pressures of the perfect body, or feel like they're dealing with that on a regular basis?
It is in front of us all the time, and it's a measurement, there's a matrix that everybody's supposed to live towards. And you were talking about the golden ratio, I was reading about Da Vinci, and he painstakingly went through creating what that is, and it seems like that's when we've adopted that. Didn't have any scales, but that you would go to Da Vinci's perfect ratio and volumes that he drew to create that ratio, and now we're still using that as the golden ratio. And it creates the difficulties that we run into because we're living to what he thought was perfect, and we're thinking that's the perfection that we need to adhere to.
Well it's also interesting to look at perfect bodies throughout history. You know, it's like Marilyn Monroe is curvy, and then we look at Twiggy, who was super skinny. And then we look at another model, like the 80's models who were more athletic, and then we move toward the 90's, which is like the Kate Moss heroin chic, and we're moving now to more diversity on the runway. So there's starting to be a change. But it's interesting cause when you think about it, the world is already diverse. Why do we even need to call it diversity on the runway? Why can't we just call it normal, right? I understand why they call it diversity because it's different than this ideal that we have, but it should be something that doesn't need a special, you know, name. It should be something that's just there because that's what we see in everyday life. So what do we do for people who are dealing with this? And again, this is not clinical issues. This is just more, I'm looking at my body, and I don't really like it. Um, lose the size tags, especially in our country. Our size tags don't mean anything, they're not standardized, we have a concept called vanity sizing, it simply means that as the numerical sizes of the clothes decrease even though the actual measurements of the clothing increase. So a size zero is actually a size 10, so sizes are changing, we don't have a standardized size. Filter your media. We're getting messages all the time what we're supposed to look like. Be careful of what messages you're looking at. Of course, you know, wanting to buck against the system. So if you're not wearing something because you feel like, oh, I don't like my body, maybe try wearing it and see if you might feel more comfortable with your body. Um, act as if. So what would you wear if you did have the perfect body? This is a CBT technique. Cognitive behavioral therapy technique. If you had the perfect body, would you wear the dress? Yes, then wear the dress. There's also a form of self care. So wearing nice clothing, you don't have to reward yourself when you lose weight. Maybe you should reward yourself now. Because you are more than enough. You don't need to reward yourself when you lose weight. It's certainly fine, you can do it. But I think it's also important to say, well, I'm okay now. And if I wanna lose more weight, that's fine, that's your choice. But making sure that you value who you are in the now. Alright, so body dysmorphic disorder. There's obviously a real clinical issue when we're looking at our bodies. We're either assessing things that we think are faulty when they're actually not, we lose sleep over it, we focus on it, we won't go out because of it. This is when we're looking at something, we see something that's not really there, and we can't move from it. This happens primarily in females. Again, it happens during adolescence. It's a preoccupation with features that may or may not have minor deficits. There are genetic components to it. It occurs equally in men and women. And again, medication and psychotherapy are effective. There's a high risk of suicidality with this population.