When you look in the mirror, what do you see? If you are like most women, you do not see what is reflected in it. Your brain processes what you see, you examine your body critically; what you see is a complex, constantly changing collage of past and present experiences, forgotten compliments and forgotten insults. If thin women with straight hair, short or with narrow hips are in fashion, you will seem to yourself too fat, too curly, too tall or broad. Fashion models on the covers of chic magazines and sleek movie actresses remain an unattainable ideal for you. At times, you will be overcome by despair that no one will love such an ordinary, unremarkable woman like you, because your appearance does not meet the requirements of Madison Avenue.
“Of all the things people think about themselves, how they value themselves, nothing matters as much as evaluating their own appearance,” says April Fallon, Ph.D., senior lecturer in the Department of Psychiatry at the Medical Institute in Philadelphia, PA. How we evaluate our appearance depends on our self-confidence. The assessment of one’s own appearance may be affected by a distorted self-image, and this in turn affects the way we see ourselves.
Girls and women are generally less satisfied with their appearance, especially in assessing their weight, than boys and men, continues Dr. Fallon, who conducted a lengthy study on how a person perceives his appearance. Even slim girls found in their figure what seemed to them too big hips in particular. ” The studies performed by Dr. Fallon showed that in general women consider themselves to be more complete in comparison with how others evaluate them, while men in the assessment of their bodies are closer to reality. Moreover, women's perceptions of which figures men like best are usually incorrect; men prefer not so thin women.
WE BELIEVE WHAT WE HEAR
The formation of a negative view of one’s appearance is rooted in childhood, adds Mary Froning, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist practicing in Washington. Our society pays too much attention to physical appearance. Everywhere, wherever girls and women revolve, the ideals of beauty fall from them, from television and magazines to the winners of the Miss America title contests.
Little girls, who in childhood were very far from the “ideal” and often heard this from other children and insensitive adults, experienced, in fact, a form of emotional violence that traumatized their psyche. “Scars invisible to the outside world will forever remain in the soul,” she says.
“I grew up, considering myself a monstrous monster, a freak, admits Darlene Balin, a thriving female businessman of 41 years. I was full, tall, and during the ripening period it killed me that my body was covered with hairs. Once, when I was standing at the supermarket, waiting for my father, who was supposed to pick me up, a little boy of about five looked at me and said: “What a ugly you are!” No matter where I went, I felt as if I were going through a formation. If you had to go somewhere in a group with teenage boys, it was a nightmare. ”