Monday, December 26, 2011

Struggling with Body Image

I hate my thighs. My breasts aren’t big enough. My breasts are too big. I need a flatter stomach. My arms shouldn’t be so jiggily. Shoulders are too broad. Hair too dull. Eyes, nose, teeth, toes. Head to toe, we women nit pick. We stand in front of the mirror and categorize all of our shortcomings.

Who are we comparing ourselves to? The short answer…every woman.

A previous version of ourselves. The woman down the street. A best friend, sister, enemy. The woman in line ahead of us. Our significant other’s ex. Jennifer Aniston. Angelina Jolie. Heidi Klum.

We are ruthless in our judgment, and we don’t just pick ourselves apart. Women pick each other apart. Even if they don’t voice their opinions, the act of picking apart another woman’s flaws only serves to make yourself even more dissatisfied with your own body.

Think body image isn’t an issue? Think again. According to Nikki Katz,Your Guide to Women's Issues:

Approximately 7 million girls and women struggle with eating disorders

42% of elementary school students between the 1st and 3rd grades want to be thinner

80% of children who are ten years old are afraid of being fat

80% of women are dissatisfied with their appearance 

Beyond statistics, I do not know a single woman who is satisfied with her appearance. This is not an issue that only affects women. On the contrary, men have similar struggles. However, given my experience is mostly with women, I’ve decided to focus these posts on the womenfolk.

So, what’s wrong with us? Why can’t we be happy with ourselves? In the last six months, as I have begun losing weight myself, I have noticed an increase in my love for my body. The question for me became…when did I become UNhappy with it? The easiest answer, and the one that came to immediately to mind was “during my first pregnancy”. However, that wouldn’t be accurate. If I think back really hard. If I am completely honest…it started way before that.

I can remember being told by my doctor, as a freshman in high school, that I was under average height and over average weight. Gee, thanks. Just what every teen needs to hear.

Add that to the fact that my only sister is a good 4" taller than me. She was always "the pretty one". We don't look much a like, each taking after the opposite parent. Both cheerleaders. In my eyes, as the little sister, 4 years younger, she was (will always be) better than I. 

(I'm in the pale purple) You can't judge the height here...I've got some massive heels on!

It weighed on me. I’ve never fit within the BMI standards. Even at my littlest, I wasn't within those ranges. I didn't get much taller, so I'll never look like the models, never have the eloquence of their bodies. I don't hate being short, but I almost always want to be taller. For practical reasons sure, but mostly for vanity. Although, aside from my hang ups, I still had fun.

Was there any doubt? 

There are many girls, women, who aren’t as lucky as I. Doubts and dissatisfaction may have plagued my formative years, but I never struggled to the point that many young girls do. Thankfully.

Looking back though, I ran track (100, 200 and 400, hurdles, long jump and high jump) and I cheered (basketball and football). You could say I was athletic. I had friends in all sorts of places. I had attention from guys, was envied by girls. I was happy. Not to say I was a Cindi Mancini (“Can’t Buy Me Love”). I was just me. Enjoyed befriending people (still do). The point is, I shouldn’t have been worried about being short, which I can’t do anything about, and being overweight, which seems to be the norm for me. And, looking back at these pictures of me…I don’t see me as overweight. At. All.

Okay, just a funny pic here to show my height. See my prom date? I'm in HEELS in this pic. Yeah. That didn't work out well. Oh, and I was blonde. Shush. The point is, even with the body I had in these pictures, which as an adult I strive to regain, I was still considered "overweight". Really?

Imagine then, years later when I got pregnant. I started out with body issues and gained about 60 more. Add to that the fact that everyone in Hollywood got pregnant the same time as me. Every magazine was filled with articles detailing which stars hadn't lost the baby weight, who lost the weight the fastest. Image after image of Hollywood starlets mocked my inability to lose the weight. 

It's taken me years to get to the point where I feel comfortable in my own skin again. Where the image of myself didn't haunt my thoughts, cripple my personality. And sure, some of that changed when I started losing weight. Beyond the weight loss, though, I changed on the inside. I stopped picking up the magazines. I started looking at myself in terms of positive thoughts and not negative thoughts. Or trying to. It's a struggle every day. I have good days and bad days, but I am more comfortable in my own skin than I have been in too many years to number. 

While I still have issues, I strive each day to get more comfortable, to improve my body image. Part of that process was coming up with something about my body that I love. So...

I love my legs. They aren't perfect. They are athletic when most of the actresses and models plastered in the media are sporting skinner versions. They are short. I am only 5'2.5", of course they're short. They are scarred from years in sports, from being clumsy, from Krav Maga. But I love them. I can dress them up, show them off or hide them away. And they are pretty damn good weapons.  -Ky

I ask each of you ladies to find something about your body that you love. ANYTHING about your body. Your big toe? Lips? Smile? Fingernail? Something about your body that you love. Leave a comment here or Tweet it @kyla_holt with the hashtag #BodyImageFTW and I'll post it in my subsequent posts. 

I have lined up women and men to help me with this so be on the lookout for more posts this week. Men, if you want to help women, compliment one. Compliment your significant other, daughter, sister, mother. 


  1. Here's something else to think about: models tend to be women with no curves. Who does that resemble? Prepubescent teens. We are WOMEN.

    In addition to what I submitted to you, I think I would also have to say that I like my fingers (and finger nails). And here's a picture: :)

    And lastly, I don't think this post could have come at a better time, right after the holidays when my body image is probably at its lowest.

  2. Amazing Article :D Inspirational.

    I'd say my favorite body part is my eyes.

    I second what Amanda @ On a Book Bender said
    "I don't think this post could have come at a better time, right after the holidays when my body image is probably at its lowest."

  3. @Amanda @ On a Book Bender You are absolutely right, Amanda. In fact in subsequent posts I will be discussing that very fact regarding models.

    Love your nails! (And, while not the point, the gloves too.) That is an excellent example of what I am wanting people to do. Find something, anything, that you love about your body. That right there is your starting place.

  4. Kyla I have to say I just love this!! This also comes at a good time for me but not because it's right after the holidays but because I'm currently pregnant. So my body is doing what it's suppose to do to care for this's getting bigger. Still not always easy to take as I look in the mirror. What I need to remember is how awesome is my body that I can grow a person!!!!! Thanks again for being you!!

  5. This post is AWESOME. Seriously. It's perfect. The fact that women tear each other down instead of lift each other up just shreds me. I mean, c'mon -- what's the point? What do those women really *gain*?

    The hard part for me is that I developed 2 chronic illnesses in my late 20's and it made me stop moving. There are days I'm bed-bound. Naturally, I gained weight...a LOT of weight. But you know what? I've learned that while my body is defective, my mind is brilliantly creative. I write. I rejoice in it. I celebrate every day that I am able to get out of bed and do something, anything, on my own.

    So what do I love about my body? My legs. I'm 6'1" and I have great legs. They aren't anywhere near a pair of model sticks, but who cares? :)

    Sorry for the long reply. I was just so moved by this post. Thank you, Kyla, for reaching out. If you change even one woman's mind about herself, or one woman's thoughts/actions toward another woman (i.e. tearing her down), it will make all the difference. Thank you for being who you are. I cherish you.

  6. Great post Kyla. Something every woman needs to read. I look at my daughters and they all have image issues. My middle daughter has always been small. Size '0' in high school. Now she is lamenting the fact that she is a size '7' at age 23. Really!?! I've always been overweight and hate having my picture taken because of that fact. Like you though, when I look back at my HS pics I realize that when I thought I was overweight then I actually wasn't. Funny how we do that to ourselves. As for finding a body part that I like, it would have to be my eyes. They're not very remarkable, just a VERY dark brown that not many people have. Kinda makes me, me. Thanks for the post and I can't wait to read the rest of them. ;)

  7. Awesome sweets! Can't wait to see what else you're going to give us and lady... nice legs! *wolf whistles* but you are sexy all over *nods* Oh yes! ;) xxx

  8. @Jessica Judd You are absolutely correct, my lady. The fact that your body can nurture a person? Beyond beautiful. As are you. It's a difficult road and add being pregnant to that? Yeah, rough. Think positively. Compliment yourself, even if it's the same compliment every day. Even if it's just your little toe that doesn't get bigger! XoXo

  9. @Denise Tompkins Hey, no need to apologize for long replies...did you SEE my lengthy post? And I still have more to say! Lol. I am so glad that you found your creative side. Body image is such an obsession for our society, often times we forget about the other things that make us beautiful. I'll be posting more this week, hope you'll stop back by to read more.

  10. @creativedeeds See? It's amazing how skewed our image of ourselves can be. I hope you stop back by later this week. And, for that matter, shoot your kids an email and encourage them to read it. As you said, something every woman needs to read. My hope, my goal, is to help in any way I can. If I make a positive impact on just one woman - I consider that a successful use of my words, my experience, my research, my time.

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. My friend, I adore you for putting this together! As someone who has struggled with body image for a long, long time I've realized that sometimes it's these reminders that we are beautiful from fellow women and friends that mean the most.

    As for something I love about myself, I love my face! It's not above average. I have all the same parts as everyone else. But when I look in the mirror, I see my dad's eyes, my mom's smile, my uncle's nose. I see a puzzle made of bits of my family and it makes me feel pretty!

    Thank you for this post!

  13. Many thanks for taking this chance to speak about this, Personally i think strongly regarding it and I make use of learning about this subject. When possible, as you gain data, please update this website with new information. I've found it extremely useful.

  14. A very impressive article. Well prepared. Very motivating!! Set off on to way



A Bakin' up Blogs Design Copyright © 2011 The Blog Bakery

Header Image inspired by Fallen Angel's Pain Vol.1 by Frozen Flame