Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Struggling with Body Image: Part 5

Kasia P (from  

Marquita Pring (from
Whether they’re in denim, lingerie or nothing at all, these girls radiate sensuality.

Tara Lynn
People try to numb and dim their inner lights – try to not stand out and shine – out of fear of being different…and therefore disconnected.  Naturally curvaceous women starve themselves and obsessively work out to look like children.
Most of the women I know have body issues. Even the thin. Tall. Short. We don't see enough variety like we see in these pictures. How about height? Where are the models who are my height? Well, I googled and found some. Some very beautiful models. Who says you have to be tall to be gorgeous? Oh, right...that was my subconscious. These ladies disprove *that* misconception.
Jax 5'2"

Kat 5'2" from
There is such beauty in these pictures, in  these women. So much sensuality, so much beauty that radiates from these pictures. Why? What makes these women different from the average woman? The one who hates everything about herself? Who judges her reflection with ridicule? It's not size or height. What I see is:

Confidence. Acceptance. Love.

Each woman exudes these. Confidence in who she is. Acceptance of her body. Love for herself. It's not easy to accomplish this. The four previous posts have shown how body image issues are prevalent in most of us no matter our size, shape, height.

One of our biggest downfalls, in my opinion is lack of understanding of what is thought of as beautiful. We don't just tear each other down, we dress up to impress other women. Now this makes sense if you are romantically interested in women, obviously. However, if not...why on earth are you worried about what other women think of your clothing? Of your hair style? Your jeans?

On that the men care? Are we attempting to impress other women in an effort to impress men? I don't have the answers, unfortunately. However, I have chatted up a few men who graciously gave me some insight into their minds. These men do not speak for all men. There is no way they could. Every man has his opinions, likes, dislikes. There are most certainly men who feel all women should look like the models in magazines, to whom I would never be attractive. However, there are men who like short women...I most certainly qualify on that front. Some men love women with breast implants, the bigger the better, whiles others prefer natural breasts.

I am a firm believer that we cannot generalize people. No generalized statement I've ever read has been true for every single person, every single race, every single gender. Except, perhaps, that every one needs certain things to survive (water, food, oxygen...etc.). When we get into opinions, likes and dislikes...we are all entirely too different to bother with generalizing. So my point in sharing is not so that you'll take away from this post that all men think like these men. No. My point is that you see from a man's perspective, what he finds attractive in a woman. That you'll see the differences in the opinions. That you'll note the similarities. We often fight with spouses, significant others, friends because we assume. Well, I assumed that men wanted in a woman what I found attractive.

Oh, how wrong I was. And knowing that has helped me immensely. Some of the men are listed by name, others by Twitter handle, some preferred to remain anonymous. Chiming in are @herofankidd, @zombiegeekboy, Anonymous Guy 1 (44, Personal Fitness Trainer), Anonymous Guy 2 (39, Sr. Unix Engineer), Anonymous Guy 3 (40, Aggregate Industry), Jason Holt and Jeff Stalnaker (@jdstalnaked). A big thank you to all of these men for laying it out there for us!

Kyla: What is the first thing you notice about a woman? (Honest answers here, luvs. If it’s her breasts…please, don’t say eyes.) What is it about that, that really pulls you in?

@zombiegeekboy – Generally, I like very small breasts, but that is beside the point…Honestly I think it is an attitude. Looks yes, of course, but how confident is she? Does she look like she would rather talk politics, does she have a sexual nature about her, or is she just playful and flirty? Is she shy, does she look smart, and how does she move. These are things I look for, because they tell me what kind of person she is. Almost all the time, some basic aspect of her personality is wrapped up in how she carries herself.
 Anonymous Guy 1 (44, Personal Fitness Trainer) – First…If she is fit. I appreciate women who take care of themselves. Physically – 1…face & hair, 2…the butt, 3…breasts, 4…shoulders, back and arms. Fit women always have a sexiness to them. It shows they care about how they feel and look.
Anonymous Guy 2 (39, Sr. Unix Engineer) – The first thing I notice about a woman is her hair. I freely admit that I’m a sucker for women with beautiful long hair. The longer the better. Did I mention long hair?
 I’m not sure how to put this into words so be understanding on this point. To me, a woman’s hair is like someone’s kitchen in their home. You can tell a lot about a woman by how she wear her hair. Item’s such as if she’s feeling sexy, playful, pissed off and more are all right there. Add to this that I’m a very tactile person. I really enjoy the feel of a woman’s hair in my hands, on my chest, whatever.

Kyla: What do you see as the sexiest thing about women in general? Why?

Jason Holt – The come hither look. For all out bravado guys are still worried about rejection and being wanted. Nothing is as good as when the girl you are interested in, gives you the signals (not subtle) that says she is interested too. Forget all the games and fear and worries. Those bedroom eyes and come and get it look or just an interested smile that invites a hello.
Anonymous Guy 1 (44, Personal Fitness Trainer) – it’s really about how they carry themselves, the words they choose, the inflections. Also their image and confidence.
Anonymous Guy 2 (39, Sr. Unix Engineer) – Attitude and inner strength. I love mentally strong women who can stand on their own. I’m not sure if this is because my mother was/is that type of person, or if it’s a matter of just finding that aspect of a woman’s character simply irresistible, but a woman who can hold her own is worth the world to me.
Anonymous Guy 3 (40, Aggregate Industry) – I find her personality the sexiest thing about a woman….If a woman is outgoing and a bit flirty she will keep my attention.

Kyla: What do women complain about (in regards to their bodies) that you just don’t notice or care about?

Jeff Stalnaker (@jdstalnaked) – Makedup, dress. To me, women ALWAYS dress, not to impress men but to impress other women. My wife KNOWS that I prefer her in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt with little or no makeup on. That’s the REAL her. Jen didn’t come equipped with makeup. There is a natural beauty there that is HER and HER ALONE. Fell in love with Jen…not Sephora cover up. My focus is on her. It’s hard to explain to a girl, “you look beautiful” when they are lounging on the sofa in a pair of gym shorts and an old t-shirt. If you say that, the assumption is that you aren’t being sincere. ON THE CONTRARY. When she is content, relaxed, and happy she is also open. It’s easy. When a girls is “dressing to impress”…who ARE they trying to impress? Jen knows…it ain’t me. Mission accomplished. Did that several years ago.
@zombiegeekboy – Women always, always complain about being fat or about not being perfect. They are obsessed with it. And the absolute worst thing a woman can do is focus on what is negative about her body. Men aren’t pretty either, we have our problems. If they would just be comfortable and love what they have, they would make men love it too. No man hates any woman’s body. We are just programmed to love the female body. All we have to do is see you loving it too. Plus, despite what women tell each other, we really do love a woman who can talk shit right back to us. Not sound like a guy, but just show that she has a brain and isn’t afraid to use it. It’s all a game, play it.
Anonymous Guy 2 (39, Sr. Unix Engineer) – Women ALWAYS complain about their looks. This has been the case from time immemorial. This issue seems to have gotten worse in recent times. While an outside appearance is always one of the first things that people look at, and if I’m honest I have to throw myself into that group, it’s the inside that I focus on more. The least attractive looking woman in the work could be the most beautiful woman in the world if she cares about who she is inside. That is the ultimate sexiness right there.
Kyla: What do you see as the biggest obstacle to women having positive body images?

Jeff Stalnaker (@jdstalnaked) – Our over informed, critical, unrealistic mass media. Those people on the TV aren’t real. They are, most generally, idealized versions of what the powers that be BELIEVE we want to see. We are constantly bombarded by images of “perfection” that it’s actually inescapable. It’s fantasy. I don’t expect Jen to look like Kate Beckinsale any more than (I hope…) she doesn’t expect me to look like Daniel Craig. Just be you.
Jason Holt – Other women, you are all vicious towards each other and use it as a status weapon.
@herofankidd – The Media. With the plethora of anorexic models and role models it makes women too self conscious. A confident woman is a sexy woman.
Anonymous Guy 3 (40, Aggregate Industry) – I think woman are more concerned with trying to be something unreaslist for the way they are made. Take care of what you have and men will appreciate it. If he wants you to be something else, he’s a douche.

Kyla: Comment about anything you’d like to add that wasn’t covered. Or talk to our ladies about how you view them, how they should view themselves.

Jeff Stalnaker (@jdstalnaked) – Men don’t help here. I know it. We are pigs and love to look at pretty girls. (I know girls like to look at dudes too, btw) Women, for whatever reason, tend to take it to heart more than guys do. I catch myself looking at a girl in front of Jen or, WORSE…COMMENTING on a cute girl. I always walk away ashamed of that. I KNOW that, somewhere in the dark recesses of where Jen hides her insecurities, there is a little hurt. We as MEN, not boys, MEN, have to bear some responsibility to make certain that our girls feel like they are the most beautiful and important people in the world. Most often they are. We just have a really crappy way of showing it at times. There isn’t a starlet in Hollywood who I would trade for my Jen. I chose her. I love her quirks and idiosyncrasies, her slight perceived “imperfections”, her brains, confidence, natural beauty, and because she’s the best person I have ever known. (Yes, she is pretty damn hot too…) How could you not love that?
Jason Holt – Change the things you can and learn to be happy with the rest. Feeling fat? Workout and eat better. Feel like you are too tall/short? – tough, learn to love yourself and be comfortable in your own skin. If you are 6 foot tall, that isn’t something you can change. There is a 5 foot woman that would kill for your long legs while you are wishing you could shrink into her petit frame. Be you. If you do what you can about the things you can change then you will be amazing. There are people that like short, tall, busty, small chested, athletic, thin, curvy, blond, red head, brunette and everything else you can think of. There will always be guys that are not interested b/c of something beyond your control just like there will always be people that think you are their perfect type regardless of what you look like. You just have to be happy with you and find your match.
@herofankidd – I feel that body image is overrated for women, every guy has a different idea of what’s sexy. You shouldn’t worry, starve, and fixate over every little detail of your body because you are going to be perfect just the way you are in someone’s eyes. Just relax and be true to yourself, personality has a great effect on sexiness.
Anonymous Guy 2 (39, Sr. Unix Engineer) – I think I’ve covered my points in the previous questions. The only thing I’d add is that women, all women, are beautiful. No one can be perfect all of the time. Everyone has flaws. Women, like men, are only human. Be yourself, love yourself. Everything else will follow.
Anonymous Guy 3 (40, Aggregate Industry) – I’m not what society says is perfect, why would I expect women to be.

Thank you gentlemen! It's amazing to me that even the men pick up on how women pick each other apart. I hadn't really thought about that aspect, not until I started these posts. On, there's an article about women's body images, where women share their "body confidence" secrets.

95% of women said getting compliments from other women helps them like their shape.

That is amazing. 95%. Why we don't put as much emphasis on compliments from MEN, I do not know. But with a statistic like that, I have made a resolution to compliment more women. To make an attempt to stop "body snarking", even about my own body. Tearing my own body down only serves to hurt other women and myself.

In that same article, they suggest the following.  

When all else fails and you find yourself having a body-loathing moment, ask yourself this one simple question: What makes you feel good in your skin? Women who took our survey said:
  • “Good hair days!”
  • “A bra that fits, and sexy underwear.”
  • “A long, hot bubble bath.”
  • “Getting a massage.”
  • “Dancing, because it’s the one time when I confidently shake it all—the good, the bad and the ugly!”
  • “When my husband tells me he loves my little tummy.”
  • “Skinny-dipping!”
  • “A great pair of heels.”
  • “Kissing.”
  • “Knowing that every woman has something she doesn’t like about herself.”
  • “Compliments! Even ones I give myself.”
  • “Looking in the mirror and finding all of the positives—loving my body is loving myself.”
That’s a mantra we want every woman to say, repeat and, by the time we do this survey again, believe.
So take a moment to reflect. Do you compliment women? Do you snark about your body to other women or snark about their bodies. When's the last time you felt confident, comfortable in your own skin? Think about what was going on with you that made you feel that way. Maybe it was the look in your man's eyes. Maybe another woman, whose approval you seek. Maybe it was just that your damn hair did what it was supposed to do. 

These posts, while meant to be helpful to you, while meant to spread the word and make a difference for SOMEone, ended up helping me. I am not perfect. I am still trying to be the best me, physically, sure, but also inside. I have lost 25 pounds since April. Not dieting or running 6 miles every day. I am doing what I love. In doing Krav Maga, I have found a passion I didn't know I had. It has also given me confidence in who I am. And, as an added is helping to get me in shape. While I work on my body, by eating better (okay, I need to work harder on that one) and being active, I am also working on loving the me I am now. 

Thank you for stopping by my post. I'd love to hear from you. Comment to the men, comment to me, comment to other women, just know that your comment could help someone. A small comment can be a powerful tool. One little tweet started these blog posts. Less than 140 characters that touched some of my women followers and spurred me to create this 5 post series. I can't even find the tweet anymore, but I remember I was out shopping for new clothes and tweeted "I love my body". That's it. But the responses I got...blew me away. Women who were shocked. Women who were envious. This led me to start tweeting positive comments to other women.

Spread the word. Spread the message. How we view ourselves doesn't just affect other affects our children. As a mother of two young girls, I vow to work at viewing myself in a better light so that they won't grow up and loathe their bodies. Seeing what our parents obsess over or what our parents affects us. It affects them. And I am going to do my best to ensure they have a healthy body image.

Thank you.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Struggling with Body Image: Part 4

Dove "real" women campaign 
I have two guests for today's post. Two women who, when approached by the concept I was working with, felt compelled to provide more than what I had asked for. While I'd asked for just a picture and a line about what they loved about their bodies...they took it upon themselves to give me more. In honor of that, I'd like to turn this post over to the two of them. 

First up, is Jess. Welcome and thank you for helping me!

First off, I want to thank Kyla for including me in the discussion of such an important topic.  I think it is such a great idea and I just love her to pieces for thinking of it and putting this all together.  That being said I have struggled with confidence and body image since high school.  The strange thing is that I had loving and supportive parents at home who told me how beautiful I was only to hear me say, “yeah whatever” or “no, I’m not!”  At over 5’ 7" in high school, I was 130 lbs and thought I was fat.  If I could go back in time I would smack myself for ever thinking such a thing.  It was when I went to college and joined a sorority and made Taco Bell my favorite place to eat that I actually had an issue with weight.  I didn’t put on the freshman fifteen, I put on the freshman thirty five!!  So that, coupled with "choose what you want to do for the rest of your life", only made me really self-conscious and miserable.  My weight and body image was something I struggled with until I hit my thirties.  It’s as if some switch kicked-off and instead of looking in the mirror and thinking “ugh, I have a pooch and my thighs are too big and damn that beer I drank has left me with love handles”,  I started to think "I really like my smile and my dimples.  I have an awesome rack that women pay big bucks to have.  My eyes are an unusual shade of brown and I love that and man, those squats I’ve been doing have really started to define my quads."  Do I still have days where I look in the mirror and blow raspberries at myself, sure.  For the most part, I have taken on the attitude of “This is me!  If you don’t like it, don’t look!"

Thank you, Jess! It's nice to hear from someone who's come out on the other side of that dreadful tunnel of self-loathing.'s nice to know that other side exists at all. See, ladies? It's not a myth!

Next up is Isalys. Think women who are thin with a great rack don't have body image issues?? Pay attention. Isa?

As someone who has struggled with body image for most of my life, I encourage girls and women to find the self-confidence to combat the unrealistic standards set by society.  You get teased if you're fat, you get teased if you're skinny...well, I'm damn tired of it!
 I have always been skinny!  It's not something I work at.  It's purely genetic from my father's side of the family. Sometimes I feel lucky, but most of the time I don't.  I am constantly reminded "OMG, you're so tiny!"  Well, no shit!  I was mercilessly teased all through middle school and high school (my formative years).  Being told things like, "have you reached three-digit numbers yet?", "does it hurt to be so skinny?" and my favorite, "I'm going to call you A for Anorexic" has a way of scarring a young girl.  Even at nearly 32 years old, people still feel the need to comment on my weight as if I was some sort of circus freak!
 Since I was 12, I've been to doctors, had shots, done muscle-building exercises, even taken medications in an attempt to gain weight.  It has taken me a very long time to accept that this is who I am, whether society thinks it's great or not!
 When I was 19, I met the man that would become my husband.  He was charming & good looking.  I honestly didn't think I stood a chance in hell because I wasn't "pretty enough" to be with someone like him.  He surprised me by asking me out within a month of meeting.  We have now been together for 11 years and he is hands out, my best accessory!  It was with his help that I found the courage to "fix" the things about myself that bothered me most and finally start respecting myself.  It still stings when people make cruel comments about my weight and I suppose it always will but I finally found the strength to not let it cripple me like it used to.
To be honest, there are still a lot of things I would change if I could!  My booty could use a bit of stuffing, my thighs don't touch and I have noodles for arms.  I do love my cleavage, but I had outside help with that ;-) Seriously though, I've always loved my lips and my smile which I got from my mom.  Overall, I know I'm not perfect but I'm finally at peace with myself.  Even though, I have occasional bouts of frustration when I can't find jeans that fit right or everything on a rack is size: large.
 I think the key to finding happiness with your own body really is just accepting it for what it is and more importantly, respectingyourself by taking care of yourself.  Whether stick thin, voluptuous, or heavy we all need to eat right, do some sort of exercise, and dress appropriately for our body type.  (For ex: If you weigh 200+ lbs, please do not go to Walmart wearing a sports bra and Juicy sweats because you're just asking for
  I am woman, hear me roar!
And, adding a little more to the fire, Laurielu and Janice are my final women to add their pictures and blurbs.

 Body image is a difficult subject for many women to discuss about themselves. I know that it makes me uncomfortable. And I think the degree of discomfort comes from the idea that if you like something about yourself and are not afraid to admit it or show it off, you are conceited, bragging, arrogant, phony, narcissistic, etc. Plus, why is it easier to wax poetic about our shortcomings when it comes to how we feel about our bodies? I don't know. I am trying to overcome that, because being proud of your body is healthy and it does not mean you are conceited. I will take a deep breath and tell you that I like my smile, my neck, my breasts and my ass. There. That felt good. @

You ladies are wonderful! Thank you for taking the time to share with us, to share with me. You are inspirational to me. And, to continue with the theme we've had going...

I love my shoulder. No, not both of them. I love my right shoulder. My right shoulder bears my one and only (for the moment) tattoo, the Chinese characters for mother (top) and daughter (bottom). I got the tattoo to represent the bond between me and my daughters. It is always there. No matter how I feel about my body that day, I always feel like that shoulder is sexy. Not just because it's inked. But because of how significant it is to me. The deep-rooted significance of it is tattooed on my soul, the shoulder is just easier for people to see. ~Kyla
You women are gorgeous. Stare at yourself in the mirror and work at seeing the positive parts. In fact, there is a fantastic article at Our Bodies Ourselves by Sarai Walker that you can read about how to help you improve your body image. 

My favorite line from that article, by far: 
Kill your inner supermodel.  If you have an image of perfection in your head to which you’re constantly comparing yourself, get rid of it. You think your nose is too big? Compared to whose? You consider your stretch marks “flaws”? Where is it written that our bodies should be free of lines or marks or scars? Such bodies do not exist in real life.
If you would like to read more, please take a moment and hop over to the first three posts. The final segment, Part 5, will be posted Wednesday, January 11, 2012. Thank you to everyone who has read, commented and spread the word. 


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