Updated: Oct 19, 2020
It seems to me that there is an equal number of ads on tv and social media for weight loss and dieting as there are for positive body image and love yourself no matter your size.
So, what's the deal?
Are we supposed to eat healthy, lose weight, and take a picture next to our jeans that are now way too big? Or put on some dove deodorant and be happy no matter what the scale says?
I don't have a straight forward answer for you. Other than that you should definitely wear deodorant, just as a courtesy to others. But I do think it's important to address how confusing these contradicting messages can be, especially for women.
The mixed signals of media are hard to sort through even as an adult, so it's tough to imagine how young girls are supposed to navigate them. And I think it's up to health professionals and influencers to tell the truth about health.
Because neither party in this case is completely correct. They both have some valid points, but in my opinion, are missing key elements to the story. So here's a rundown of how I see it.
1. Your weight and body size are important.
In order to prevent chronic health conditions like diabetes and heart disease, you have to take care of yourself including maintaining a healthy weight for your height, age, and gender. Beyond preventing disease, a healthy weight can also give you more energy to do the things you love to do and can help you have a healthy pregnancy.
This still means there is a range of healthy weight, and obsessing over a few pounds is not the goal. Just be mindful of your weight and make decisions that help you get to or stay in that healthy weight range.
2. There is no single perfect body size
Women are all built differently and carry weight differently. And that's okay! Focusing on a healthy weight overall is more important than the size of a particular body part. And a healthy weight may look different on different people, so keep that in mind.
Media may have you believe that certain dimensions are more desirable, but there are beautiful women of all different shapes and sizes. Which leads me into my last point.
3. Health trumps appearance
This one is hard for people to grasp and really believe - myself included sometimes. Things like eating fruits and vegetables and exercising should be as much about your overall health as any kind of weight loss goals.
Feuling your body with good food for energy and exercising to improve cardiovascular fitness, balance, and flexibility are undoubtedly important, regardless of whether you want to lose weight or change your appearance.
The full picture of health is a compilation of genetics, environment, decisions, habits, education, willpower, motivation, and more. But among those things you can control, is how you think about your body. I encourage you to adopt a positive, healthy outlook on your appearance that prioritizes health over vanity and makes you feel confident.
Because you deserve to feel confident, and that's the bottom line.