Feminine Body Image and Self Esteem

Discussion in 'Women's Issues' started by Wyldgusechaz, Jun 9, 2007.

  1. Wyldgusechaz

    Wyldgusechaz New Member

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    I have read that girls have the exact same accelerating self esteem as children as do boys and then when they hit middle school, their self esteem falls plummets like a stone, mainly related to their body image. Eating disorders start in middle school.

    Their self esteem starts to climb back up as they work thru high school but it rarely gets back to where it was as a child. Apparently boys don't have this issue as much although that is changing.

    Curiously I have read tht girls get their self esteem from their fathers image of them to a great degree.

    I am sure this is different for a lot of women but does this ring true to you ladies here? And is any of your self esteem connected to body image for you?
     
  2. B_Kshelby67

    B_Kshelby67 New Member

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    I am going to write a novel....

    Ok here is quite a correlation....
    I had an eating disoder for several years of my life. I was a complusive over eater in high school/middle school, then when I went to college I turned to builimia, then fit criteria for binge/purge anorexic. I have been recovered now for over a year, though somehow my metabolism got fucked and it is really hard to eat enough to actually keep my weight up. (Opposite of what usually happens in the majority of cases)
    When I was about 7 years old, my parents divorced. I had visits with my father on sundays. He had always been highly abusive when we were a family, but when he got the opportunity to get me alone, it was if I was a free punching bag, more figuritivly than anything. He berated me about my weight, appearence, lack of boyfriends, as well as my mother. He degrated other women's appearence in front of me. Suffice to say, in 3 years, at the age of 10, I decided I had enough and never saw him again.
    My mother went on to marry a raging alchoholic who terrorized us until he got control of himself a few years ago.
    I have not had a fine example of a man for my entire childhood, nor have I had the grace of being told I was worthy and beautiful despite my outward appearence. This was an insanly large part of my eating disorder, as far as the COE goes. I buried myself in food to make me feel better.
    Eventually in college I decided to start changing my eating habits, and exercising. I recieved so much attention about my body and looks that I just took it to an extreme. It was such a good feeling to hear positive things about me that I had never heard before and I didn't want it to stop.
    Eventually, I was put into treatment, sort of forced because I would've never done it on my own, but I wanted to. There is where I drew all my conclusions and really figured out what I was trying to do and feel and everything by treating myself that way.
    I can really say that now I do have some self esteem, though probably a lot lower than I should. Quite honestly, this community helps A LOT in making me feel good about myself.
     
  3. Gillette

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    Kshelby, thank you for sharing that with us. I'm very glad that being part of this community is a source of strength for you.

    You're so much stronger now for having been able to see the factors that drove you. You have a very bright future.
     
  4. JustAsking

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    wynd,
    I know you are asking the women here about this, but I just wanted to put in my two cents. (because I am a pushy New Englander). I was involved in a church youth group and the experience taught me a lot about adolescent girls. Some very troubled girls (in terms of self esteem) led me to read a lot about the subject. Almost every you say is very true, except the body image thing is a symptom of lack of self-esteem combined with the media and societal expectations.

    At the heart of it is what you already said about women getting their self esteem from their father's image of them. But that is not exclusive to body image. In fact, the most important thing these girls seemed to need was for their fathers to be proud of them and see them as consequential and valuable human beings. At their most suicidal, I remember more than one girl saying "I just want him to be proud of me.".

    It was heart wrenching to hear this and realize that most fathers think that raising daughters is the mother's concern. Studies show that a father who is merely emotionaly distant and emotionally unavailable to a daughter can lead to things like eating disorders.

    Anyway, I will shut up now and let the women give us the real story.
     
  5. Gillette

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    I think JustAsking is onto something regarding fathers having a role in building overall self esteem in their daughters.

    For body image specifically, off the top of my head I'm going to say the different levels at different ages is due to body development through puberty.

    As we reach puberty not only do our bodies change but be we also become more aware of the effects of sexual attraction and what the "expected" attractors should be (thank you media). Not only do males reach this stage later but their development, be it to a lesser or greater extent, isn't as easily measurable as it for females. Regardless of coverage, breast development is easily visible, bulges less so.
     
  6. Ethyl

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    Young girls sometimes get mixed signals which adds to the problem. Many men tell us they like the natural look, then we see women like Pamela Anderson glorified in the media and airbrushed/photoshopped women in magazines. What are we supposed to believe? Don't get me wrong. If a woman wants to make cosmetic changes for herself, that's great. If she's doing it because she feels pressured to look a certain way, that's a result of an underlying issue.

    I've heard countless stories from women about how their fathers' constant criticism deflated any sense of self-worth they might have had. I have one friend who is in a terrible relationship with her husband. Her father still belittles her, has no qualms about telling her she should lose a few pounds (she's a very healthy 130 lbs at 5'5", curvy, not fat at all), and insisted her husband's constant infidelity was her fault. She's in an abusive relationship (more emotional than physical) because she doesn't feel she deserves any better. She's paranoid about gaining weight even though she's a lovely woman with a nice, curvy figure. She's miserable and it pains me to see her like this. And she's only one example.

    Kshelby, it takes much strength and courage to overcome something so potentially destructive and deeply rooted. You have my complete respect and admiration. :smile:
     
  7. whatireallywant

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    I didn't have the problems with my father. I got along well with my dad as a kid, moreso than I did with my mom, maybe because I was a tomboy.

    But I have had body image problems since I was a preschooler! In my case, it was the opposite of most girls' body image problems. When I entered first grade (age 6), I was 3' 9" and weighed 35 lbs. I was ok with my height although I was a little on the short side, but desperately wanted to GAIN weight. I was a naturally very active (hyper, even) kid though, and also a picky eater who got full fast. So I didn't gain much weight. My body image actually improved as I got older, I found that being very slim was not such a bad thing, although by then I was self conscious about being flat chested.

    But then, as an adult, I have gained a LOT of weight and am now overweight (not obese though... wear a size 14/16 in American sizes if that tells you anything). I'm not as flat chested as I was but I still think I'm small in comparison to the rest of me.

    I became less active over the years, partly because of not as much opportunity, but also because I was given a hard time for being as active as I was as a kid - where I grew up, being a tomboy was NOT acceptable. I'm starting to get back into it though. I'm a social exerciser though, and prefer to play team sports or go walking/hiking with a group. There are more opportunities for that here than there were in the city I used to live in, and the weather is also better for more of the year here (gets really hot in the summer here though - but I like hot weather so I'm ok with that.) Here, the problem has been the upheaval I have gone through with my job and finances. But that's a story for another thread.
     
  8. JustAsking

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    Yes, take a look at the amazing tree-climbing, butt kicking, world curious, confidence of a pre-pubescent girl, and then look at her after puberty. She has suddenly become self-aware and has asked the world questions about her self-worth. The answer she got back was media images, MTV videos, and societal norms about women being compliant, articulate, collaborative, and nearly perfect in all respects, and that there is a double standard for the genders and she is on the short end of that bargain.

    The book that really enlightened me about this.

    Yes, this is such a common story. What's worse is that a father merely being emotionally neutral and distant can cause stuff like this.

    Peel back the layers of that seemingly perfect teenage girl overachiever in school (straight As, accomplished musician, star athlete, very popular, etc) and you will find a hollow vaccum of self-esteem and someone who falls asleep each night crying in the fetal position. I came across this so many times with girls in the youth group. They were laboring under the faulty emotional logic that said that if they were not perfect they were dog-crap, or trying to get their fathers to be proud of them. It is a kind of silent child abuse or child neglect when this happens. The tragedy of it is that the father is probably extremely proud of his daughter's achievements but has no way of communicating it. (or it is obvious that it is only the achievements he is proud of and not the daughter herself, and he communicates that.)
     
  9. Gillette

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    :kiss:

    Many do not consider this a positive trait at all. They'd prefer us silent.
     
  10. B_Think_Kink

    B_Think_Kink New Member

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    I had an eating disorder as well. I was an anorexic though... it was easier for me to not put it in my mouth, then to try and get it out after. I can't be induced to throw up. My parents were never abusive, but we always seemed to be by ourselves, to compensate my parents bought us lots of stuff, expensive stuff. Overindulged. So that was hard on us. I was always more over weight than my very active brother, and my parents bugged me all the time that "it will catch up to you someday". So still to this day they tell me that, my dad tells me my waist is bigger than his.. stuff like that. I have poor self esteem, and will never be comfortable naked around males..

    *edit*
    Then my best friend started abusing me, and calling me fat, and useless, and all that psychological emotional control bullshit.. so I don't think I'll ever feel comfortable in my own skin. Or do I posses the will to want to change my outward appearance.
     
  11. Gillette

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    1. You are by no means fat.
    2. You can change your outward appearance if you want to, of course, by why bother since you are already attractive
    3. Do change your outward relationships. Your best friend may be the person you feel closest to or have known the longest but they don't sound like much of a friend.
     
  12. B_Think_Kink

    B_Think_Kink New Member

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    Compared to the rest of my family, I am much heavier...
    And yes.. I forgot once again.. ex-best friend, I haven't spoken to him in 4 months or so.
     
  13. B_NineInchCock_160IQ

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    My self esteem was through the roof when I was in elementary school. I had an enormous ego. Because I was smarter than everyone else in my class, and taller, and could write better stories, and draw better pictures, and get better grades, and play basketball better... even though after I moved in 2nd grade I didn't have many friends.

    I don't know when exactly my self-esteem took such a nosedive... but probably also near middle school. Maybe in 5th or 6th grade, with increased pressure to start dating girls, and the realization that as much as I might like them, none of them were interested in me. Also I became increasingly self conscious about being overweight, which I was up until the end of my freshman year in high school. Being so shy at the time made me feel like a loser. After the move in 2nd grade my social skills lagged far behind my development in other areas.

    Have had ups and downs since then. Right now I think I've leveled off and stabilized at a happy and realistic medium.




    That's my own experience, and it obviously had nothing to do with being female, as I'm not. I do think it is sad the sheer overwhelming numbers of women out there in the United States who suffer from low self-esteem. It's so rare to talk to a girl of any age who likes her own body. I think this is another element of why it's so hard to give someone a compliment and be taken seriously, as brought up in this thread:

    http://www.lpsg.org/relationships-d...usy/52178-how-can-you-compliment-someone.html
     
  14. Wyldgusechaz

    Wyldgusechaz New Member

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    Kshelby, I looked at your pics. You are a *Hot Killer Chick*. My buds and I use that phrase (I know, not politically correct) when we see a woman like you out and about.

    Like in "Omigawd, did you see that *hot killer chick* over by the bar?*

    Wow.
     
  15. D_Sherian_LaNeige

    D_Sherian_LaNeige Account Disabled

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    That's EXACTLY ME. Really. In fact I'm sitting here shocked.

    The tree-climbing, the overacheiving, the distant father. Everything. I've been treated for depression for several years and I'm just starting therapy for an obsessive compulsive disorder involving my skin (yes, it's kind of like anorexia but much less dangerous, although it can be disfiguring). Isn't it depressing when everything that's made you who you are today has already been summed up in a book.
     
  16. viking1

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    My self esteem has been in the toilet for so long that I don't remember much about ever being happy. I also think it's far to late to change it. I just feel inferior and hopeless now. The reasons are so complex I don't think there's any chance it can be unraveled, understood, or changed.
     
  17. Instinctual Lover

    Instinctual Lover New Member

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    Poor self esteem, body image.
    What a sensitive topic. I wasn't going to post about it but hope maybe my thoughts might help someone else just to say I'm not alone.
    I started with the body issues after being molested at 8. I was made to feel as if it was my fault. I somehow attracted him. Father was distant and abusive. Insulted me for anything and everything.
    I hated my body, felt unclean, disgusting. I started abusing food. My teen and early adult years were full of drinking and drugs, to escape. I didn't each much in early adulthood because I couldn't afford drugs and cigarettes if I was buying food. To say I was promiscuous would be an understatement. I equated my self worth with how many guys wanted to fuck me.
    Once I became more financially stable, then I really started packing on the pounds. See, if I was fat, then no guys would want me and I would be safe, I would stop being a slut.
    I am 5"2 and at my highest weight I was 297lbs. So you can imagine the comments and looks I would get. So, I would just go home and say fuck it all, I'm never going to get skinny, I'm a fat pig and always will be and I would eat a whole bag of chips or go to Burger King and go crazy with Whoppers.
    With years of therapy "under my belt" I am healthier in all aspects, body, mind and soul.
    I think it is wonderful that our society is moving closer to equality and no discrimination based on race, colour, creed and sexuality. I wonder why this discrimination is Ok for fat people. The amount of insults thrown about casually in the media, whether it is TV, radio, or movies is absolutely disgusting.
    I try to shield my daughter from the body image/self esteem trap it but it is impossible. That crap is in Disney movies too. So I have discussions with her about "what is wrong with that commercial, or show or movie or picture? what are they trying to sell us? What are they trying to make us believe" and "why is that wrong?"
    I tell her that we exercise and eat right because it is good for our bodies. I have never said "if you eat too much you'll get fat, or if you don't exercise, you'll be fat"
    I think that is the way to teach girls and boys alike on how important it is to love themselves and not use the media to gauge how important or beautiful or smart or talented they are. It is up to us as parents, as adults, not to wait on society to change, WE have to change it.
     
  18. Instinctual Lover

    Instinctual Lover New Member

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    wow, that was long. sorry for the novel :)
     
  19. JustAsking

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    Blunderwoman,
    Haha, yes it would seem that way. But I look at it this way. You are a far more amazing, complex, and beautiful being than just the sum total of your emotional problems. Like a champion tennis player with a broken arm, your emotional condition seems to define you, but only because it is limiting your true potential. And like the tennis player, the broken arm will seem to define her game, but only because it is limiting her true talent. Once it is fixed (and it is easily fixed) she is back to being a champion.

    I guess a better way to say it is that, yes, most emotional problems are common, well understood, and can be read about in any book. That is not the same as saying that any given person can be summed up easily in a book just because they happen to be afflicted with emotional problems.

    So read this as good news, not bad. True dat.
     
  20. JustAsking

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    Yes, i know what you mean. Speak when spoken to. But the double standard is that its ok for the boy or man to be like the monosyllabic Clint Eastwood, but the girl or woman must be articulate and communicative when she is asked to speak.

    Imagine the 4 year old boy who has strong visual-spatial skills but is still behind or weak in linguistic skills. He sits on the floor building bridges and mountains out of tupperware containers and hardly ever speaks. The proud father winks at the neighbor and says, "He is definitely going to be an engineer!". The boy gets all kinds of encouragement for that and the "feedback" goes directly to his self-esteem and guides his behavior.

    But then imagine the visual-spatial girl in the same spot. The parents look at each other with concern because she is not speaking precociously yet. They think that she might be a little bit slow. Their looks and actions don't transmit self-esteem to the girl and she does not get that valuable encouragement.


    The little precocious talking girl, on the other hand gets all kinds of encouragement. She is seen as a charming and happy girl and gets the smiles and hugs and exclamations from all the adults around her.

    This double standard runs all the way through school and beyond.

    To your point, Gillette, its only later that she is told to shut up.
     
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