We’re going to a company picnic – my husband’s company picnic – and I pull shorts and tank tops out of the dresser. After all, it’s late July and the temperature is predicted to be near 90.
These shorts pinch my waist. All those sleeveless shirts will draw attention to my less-than-firm triceps. Shorts that hit mid-thigh will ride up when I sit down and the flabby part of my leg will peek out.
It’s official. I have nothing to wear. I look terrible in all of these outfits. Even though I’ve been walking or running every weekday morning throughout the summer and lifting weights two days per week, my over-40 body doesn’t become the summery outfits which would best suit this event.
I pull the capris out of my closet and the process begins again.
If this is you, I’m glad to know I’m not alone. Not really. I think the fact that women spend so much time thinking about their appearance is a travesty. Especially when I read this:
“In general, women are much more concerned about their appearance than men are. The key reason for this is that their appearance is central to how they are evaluated by others” (Jackson, L. A. from Physical Appearance and Gender).
Why are women evaluated by others based on appearance? Whatever the reason, it makes 90% of all women want to change something about their appearance according to these statistics.
According to Dr. Nigel Barber, “Women also spend huge amounts of money on clothes, cosmetics, and other products and services that enhance their physical appearance.” Is this because women feel insecure about their appearance? After all, society will judge them based on the way they look.
Unfortunately, society as a whole may judge us on external standards, such as physical appearance. Women need to build up an arsenal to fight against the negative impact this can have on our confidence and self-esteem.
Some weapons against the warped standards society sets for women are:
- Positive self-talk: You are your own worst enemy. I avoid mirrors once I’m done getting ready in the morning. This helps me forget about my bad hair day or the extra roll above my waistband. When I look and think, “Ugh. I need to lose weight” I immediately remind myself of the three miles I ran that morning or check out a picture of the two healthy sons my body sustained for 10 months and then brought into the world. (By the way, Victoria’s Secret is that no one looks like a supermodel in their underwear.)
- Healthy relationships: It’s comforting that my husband doesn’t think I need to wear makeup. He tells me I’m beautiful first thing in the morning (even when I still have morning breath). Don’t put yourself in a relationship with someone who puts down your appearance.
- Realistic friendships: If you befriend the pretty girl, you’ll be surprised to realize she’s even more insecure about her looks than you are. How can that be? Looks are fleeting. We age and faces wrinkle while skin sags. It’s inevitable. If we put our confidence in our appearance, we know it’s a time bomb. Surround yourself with people who value the inner characteristics that make a person beautiful. When you’re encouraged by the truth from people who see the real you, it inspires confidence (but don’t mistake healthy self-esteem for over-confident pride).
- A different focus: In this article, one woman admits: “I realized that there was a marked difference between staying strong and healthy and being critical of every curve of my body, hyperaware of how things drape and present to the outside world.” We need to focus on our purpose in life. Even the supermodel and actress can’t hang all their dreams on their physical appearance. Focus on being the best mother, wife, writer, teacher, lawyer or whatever. As women, we have more than one role and none of them really need us to weigh 100 pounds and have a 36-26-36 figure.
Really. They don’t.