Embrace Your Power

A Glamour Magazine survey found that “on average, women have 13 negative body thoughts daily.”  The editor of Glamour, Cindy Leive points out in a Today Show interview excerpted from The Huffington Post:

That is almost “one for every waking hour.” The level of criticism women hurl at themselves is “brutal.”  She worries, “If a man talked this way to a woman, it would be considered relationship abuse. But it’s somehow become acceptable for us to talk this way, with this kind of venom to ourselves.”

This is consistent with what I hear from some 20-somethings today. As one 28 year old related:

“The level of scrutiny that women give themselves in their 20s has reached this insane level. On the outside it probably looks like we are a lot more confident. We know the media images are airbrushed. But there is still this pressure to conform to be skinny. I feel like with my friends the level of obsession with being skinny is unbelievable. We joke being anorexic and stuff like it is funny.

It is more competitive and it’s about expectations. But it’s also this doomsday thing where in our heads there is going to be this exact day that your metabolism stops and you are never going to be able to lose weight again. So you might as well enjoy every second of it now even though you can’t enjoy every second of it now because you are like,  “but I could be skinnier. “

But that is how older women talk about it to us …they always talk about it like it is a day that you wake up and your metabolism doesn’t work any more. Or like when you have kids. Your body just changes and it never goes back.”

Today I am going to challenge that notion. Yes your metabolism slows down but it’s not like it’s this sudden huge weight gain in a day or a year. Yes pregnancy takes its toll, but with proper care and feeding…you can get yourself back into shape. In fact, some women get into better shape after children than before. I’m not saying it’s not work, and yes it’s easier for some than others, which can be annoying. And I’m not going to get into how to do it here today. But here’s just letting you know that many women in their forties feel better, stronger and more fabulous than they did in their 20s. Almost every women I talk to says they look at themselves and their friends from college or their 20s and think how much better we look today. And importantly we feel better about ourselves.

Part of it is getting into healthy habits — but a huge part of it is owning it. Over and over again you will hear about women of any age that may not be the most attractive by “ideal standards”, but are a magnet for men and women alike. It’s because they are happy with themselves and not constantly obsessing about how they look and who is looking at them and that little bulge on your tummy. It’s hard to believe, but the minute you get out of the habit of constantly comparing yourself to others or criticizing yourself for that flaw you think you have…or fixating on a number on a scale you will feel so much better about yourself.  The number on the scale doesn’t give you confidence, you do.  Listen to what these women have to say to see if it motivates you to embrace your power and stop engaging in negative body image conversations with yourself and your friends.

“A guy is not thinking about that spot on your thigh. We are so inundated with media about what is sexy. And when you actually talk to men, you know what men like. They like women. One day I just realized, they want what I have. Right. They just do. And it doesn’t’ require a lot of effort.

Once you embrace it, it is a wild power. I am telling you. I feel like I am more attractive today that I was 20 years ago. I am prettier, funnier, sexier, more interesting more alive, less oblivious, more intelligent. What is not to love about that?

And yes I am at an age here I am starting to get a little freaked out about getting older, but I’m going to fight it every step of the way. I just started taking kickboxing class and I love it.  My instructor always me I am stronger than people I am three times older than. I have always enjoyed exercising but I have recently realized that it is fundamental. It relieves stress, it keep keeps your weight down. You don’t have to be this stupid dieting girl that worked about what you eat. It’s empowering to be strong and fit.” — 40-something, working mom, wife, Brooklyn, NY


“Get rid of the scale. I don’t know how to say this, but just because you have that section of your thigh that you feel stands out like a 2’ x 4, the reality is that very few people are actually looking at the 2’ x 4” in your thigh. They’re looking at your boobs or your face. They’re looking at your hair. Don’t obsess. Don’t let that be your entire body image. The one flaw that you see is not what the world sees.” – 40-something, wife, mom, student, Chicago, IL


“Get your buts moving.  I’m heavier now but healthier than I have ever been. In my boot camp class the teacher always points out that I  am 45 and run faster than the younger women. Every summer the college girls come in and I think, I’m going to be the slowest, but I am always faster than the college kids. They are so cute and young and they are there but they are not present. Be more present.” – 45, mom, wife, Cleveland, OH


“It’s just so trite. It’s more than just looks. You do realize that as you get older. the people you enjoy hanging around with whether they be your spouse or your girl friends, whoever they are… you didn’t choose them because of how they looked or because the size of their waist or things like that. I believe you shouldn’t get outside of some range of what is healthy. There are these extremes on either end. But once you’re in that range, maybe you have bigger legs and so and so has beautiful hands. This one is going to have hair that grays early. That’s just the way it’s going to be.  So once you’re in the range of you keeping healthy, trying to let go a little bit. We are all beautiful in our own way and people are going to love you.” – 40-something, working mom, wife, San Francisco, CA


“Don’t be neurotic about your weight. Turn the mirror inward for like one day a week.” – 40-something, mom, wife, Detroit, MI

Ironically women feel stronger and sexier in their 40s…but they kick themselves for not feeling this way when they were younger. Looking back they can’t understand why no matter how great they looked in their 20s, they didn’t see it. They urge you to see it in yourself:

“You look much better than you think. Enjoy it!! Before you would look at a picture of yourself and say, “Why did I wear that? I look awful? Now you look at pictures and say OMG I looked amazing. Why didn’t I feel it more?  I would say that is 80% gone now in the 40s. I was worried about what other girls thought and whether it would get the guys attention – now I don’t think they care beyond a happy face.’ – 44, mom, Cleveland, OH


“Don’t look in the mirror that often.  Stop weighing yourself so much. Don’t be so hard on yourself because you this is my favorite one, pictures get better with age. I think that’s really good advice. If you look at a  picture yourself and you don’t like it, put it away and look at it in 10 years, you won’t be believe how great you looked. So stop being hyper critical of your self. “ – 40-something, mom, wife, Detroit, MI

Everyone has their different way of staying healthy and motivated. I will share more of those stories too. But one thing everyone says: Wear sunscreen!

“Pay attention to your skin now because damage does not show up on your skin until 20 years later and it is much easier to prevent something than to fix it.” — 40-something, Dermatologist, NYC

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