Comparisons With Real Women

46 comments

Our conversation yesterday about our appetite was a really good one, wasn’t it? I enjoyed reading over 60 comments from all of you throughout the day. It is obviously a topic that affects us all. I was flooded with emails yesterday from many of you. Reading through the emails and comments actually brought tears to my eyes because I feel the pain that many of you have been through with this. Everyone has been teased at some point in their life for how they look, how little they eat, how much they eat, what they eat, and the list goes on and on.

When I was entering high school, I was teased about how muscular my arms were. I was mortified! I would cry about it and zero in on it in pictures. I can still remember who the person was (ass!) and what his exact words were. To this day, I struggle with accepting my arms even though I know that I have no rational reason to.

I received so many beautiful emails from many of you sharing your story and lifting me up. My mom sent me an email that I will never forget:

Hi Ange,
I just finished reading the 63 responses from your earlier post today. 
It is incredible how you have touched people’s lives in a such positive and inspiring way.  I was overwhelmed with the kind comments you received — in fact, it brought tears to my eyes.  I believe you have found your calling in life and don’t let an occasional negative and cruel comment bring you down for one second!

Talk about inspiring, eh?

Many of you don’t realize this but I get so much inspiration from all of you each and every day. :)

I received an email from Erin who asked me a wonderful question:

How do you avoid comparisons? I find that i constantly compare my body to other women I encounter in the world. I am smart enough not to buy into photo-shopped, airbrushed magazine models, but i can’t escape from the REAL WOMEN I see out there in the REAL WORLD – they are not airbrushed and i see so many beautiful women with "perfect" bodies all the time… i can’t help but think along the lines of "if THEY can look this good, i SHOULD be able to too!!"

it’s really hard for me – even on the days i actually feel GOOD about my body, i find myself making comparisons and coming up short (fat/unfashionable/uncool/etc) – and i end up coming home and hating what i see all over again. i don’t think i can make all the healthy changes I WANT to make with this kind of mindset. i hope i don’t sound too crazy… and if you have any thoughts on this, i would really, really appreciate it.

This is such a great question. I think much of the talk on body image focuses on ‘not believing the social media hype’ such as TV ads, music videos, magazines, and the like. While I believe this is true, it doesn’t capture the entire picture. Many women suffer from social comparisons with other women on the street or women in their personal lives. Maybe it is their sister, their best friend, or a girl they see in class each week. These types of social comparisons, to me, are much more harmful because we know that these are real, non-airbrushed women. It is easy for me to dismiss an image in a magazine by saying, ‘Oh that is so airbrushed!’, but it is nearly impossible to dismiss a real person.

I have stopped buying fashion magazines because I was sick of the content. Stories on how to ‘Free Yourself From The Diet Mentality’ followed by a diet or cigarette advertisement. The hypocrisy of magazines really irks me, and finally I cancelled my subscriptions. I realize that ads are the bread and butter of magazines, but it also doesn’t seem like there is much effort going into finding quality advertisements.

It is horrifying to think that in 2009, we are still finding skinny cigarette advertisements with 6 foot 100 pound models plastered over them! I mean, really, who creates this garbage and more importantly, do they sleep at night knowing the message they are sending out? So yes, I cancelled my subscriptions to my previously favourite magazines. It was hard at first, but I don’t miss them at all. I enjoy Runner’s World right now.

But like Erin points out, how do we avoid the social comparisons in the real world? I admit that I still struggle with comparing myself to women in my own life or strangers I see on the street. I think it is partly human nature that dates back to our evolution, but I also think that the media has reinforced this behaviour in us much more than it should be.

Evolutionary Psychology research has shown that men compete for power and status while women compete with physical qualities like attractiveness and thinness (see e.g., Cashdan, 1998).

I don’t think it is realistic to say to yourself that you are going to totally eliminate comparing yourself to other women. It is possible to reduce the behaviour though, especially if you think that it is affecting your overall happiness and impeding your road to health. For myself, when I stopped focusing on dieting, counting calories, and weighing myself I found that my urge to compare myself with other women also decreased. I think the two and two go together. Counting, weighing, and obsessing spill over into your relationships. When you are counting calories or worrying about your weight all day long, you are going to be ruminating about it even while visiting with your girlfriends or while you are out at the mall shopping or at work.

Negativity breeds negativity!

This obsession with food and our bodies does not end there, you see; it poisons everything in our lives! I used to be at school in a class but all I could think about was how much I weighed that morning or how much I ate the night before or how tight my pants felt. Sound familiar? This negativity would then tarnish all of my other thoughts. I didn’t want to be in class or around others and damnit, why is that girl next to me so much skinnier than me??

When I finally gave myself the permission to ease up and let go of the control, I realized that it was silly to compare myself to others.

Throughout my education, I did lots of psychology research on eating disorders- a few studies and lots of research articles. The shocking thing I found was just how many women are unhappy with their bodies and how many women suffer from eating disorders. The more I researched, the more I realized that the pretty and thin girl in my class is really miserable, hurting, and obsessing about her weight. I think of this as the ‘grass is always greener on the other side’ phenomenon. We always think that skinny women have it all, but that isn’t always the case.

I used to be thinner than I am now, but I was unhappy and obsessing about my weight. I wouldn’t give anything in the world to go back to that size.

So when you are wishing that you had someone else’s body, please stop and rationalize the thought.

Unfortunately, the odds are that the women you are comparing yourself to is struggling with her own body image and eating behaviours.

I think it is also a good idea to create a mantra that you can repeat to yourself when you find yourself engaging in social comparison.

You can say things like:

  • I am perfect just the way I am
  • There is no one perfect body type or size
  • Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
  • I don’t need to change
  • Beauty radiates from the inside out
  • I glow because I treat myself good
  • I’m great!!!! I’m amazing!!! :) Seriously- say it!!
  • Remind yourself of your favourite body part!

Today’s questions:

Do you struggle with comparing yourself to the women in your lives?

How does it make you feel?

Can you think of ways to stop it?

Do you still think about hurtful comments that people have said to you in your life?

Angela_Signature

“The thing I like about my body is that it’s strong. I can move furniture around my apartment. I can ride my horse…I can play basketball. It’s a well functioning machine.”

~Cindy Crawford

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{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Karen May 20, 2009

Really good stuff Angela! I love seeing your psychology training come through…

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2 Michelle Hisae May 20, 2009

I definitely compare myself to people on the street or in classes. I was actually talking to my boyriend about this the other day, in fact. He told me that comparison is normal, that even he does it. Most girls want to be better, fitter, skinnier, smarter than the next. It’s ridiculous, though, because if we were all the same, we’d be personality-less! I bet people even lose certain sparks of their personality when agonizing about food and weight and exercising. It’s hard to focus on the good within when you’re not satisfied with the outside.

I know I have problems with this comparison deal, but I’m really trying to compliment myself more and remind myself that I. Love. Me. I really do, it’s just hard to remember ALL the time.

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3 Susan May 20, 2009

Oooh, this is SUCH a good point. I compare myself to real women way more than I do to those on TV or in magazines. Having just finished university, I got really bad about comparing myself to the girls who could down a pitcher of beer and plate of chicken wings and still be stick thin. All the while I was nursing my second and last drink of the evening.

One thing I always tell myself is everyone is different. We all have different bodies and genetic makeups that all respond differently to what we put in it. I also realize that I am not a naturally active person. I’m more inclined to sit on the couch for the evening than be up and doing stuff, so maybe I can’t take in as many calories as a naturally active person. I definitely think I’m getting better now that I’m not obsessing over every little number (going on a month being calorie counting free!). And I’m definitely the most happy in my own skin right now than I’ve ever been :)

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4 Katie May 20, 2009

Had to comment on this. I’ve been reading your blog for a while and love it. This is the first post that made me comment, however. You are spot on–nobody and no body is perfect. It’s just not possible. At my lowest weight, which I’ll admit was unhealthily low, I still had some uneven skin (maybe even, gasp, cellulite!) on the backs of my thighs and it was then that I realized—I couldn’t be much skinnier and yet I still had this “imperfection,” and that told me every body is different and you can’t make your own body do something it’s not meant to—clearly my body is not meant to be cellulite-free! I’ve gotten back to a much healthier weight and feel much better—in every way. I try to stop comparing myself to others because each person has certain things about their bodies that are beyond their control.

Sorry for the rambling but just had to say I think you hit the nail on the head with this post!

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5 Shelly May 20, 2009

I am really bad about comparing myself to the other women in my exercise classes, especially if I am having a bad day. I’m not the only one though- I’ve had a friend leave class early because she was having a bad day and a particularly tiny girl was in class. (In all fairness, the girl also kept drifting into my friend’s workout area, so she was also annoyed for a good reason.) But basically, I can totally relate to how my friend was feeling. If I’m having a good day, I am fine and I enjoy the workout and don’t think too much about how many people are larger or smaller than I am. But if I am having a bad day, being around all those mirrors is torture- especially if there is someone substantially smaller than me working out in the same room. I just try to get through it b/c by the end of class, I’ll feel good and will have stopped thinking about it. The beginning of class can be pretty bad though.
I have improved a bit on the comparison front though, because I have stopped reading fashion magazines. Those things are poison!
I do agree that it is hard not to compare myself to other regular women. One thing I think about is that I am just being hard on myself. If I looked exactly like someone I would compare myself to, I would probably still find something to criticize about myself because, unfortunately, that’s a bad habit I have.
I do think that as I eat healthier and work out more, my inner critic gets a lot quieter because I feel good and that naturally makes me feel happier and more optimistic.

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6 Wiggs (The Beholder) May 20, 2009

Ohhhh, sister, I compare myself to EVERYONE. It’s horrible! I especially hate when it makes me feel bitter toward my friends. I just realized the other day that I always think of myself as the “fat one” in my group of friends, even now when I weigh 120 pounds. But I’m starting to realize that the key to feeling good about myself and to avoiding those comparisons is to know – beyond a shadow of a doubt – that I’m caring for my body as best as I can. I exercise and eat well, and that’s all I can do. I’m not always going to be perfect, but when my overall momentum is healthy, I stop thinking about the way the women around me look, and start feeling confident and strong.

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7 lauren May 20, 2009

another great, powerful post :) i think comparisons with other women are something we have all done or do at some stage. Its hard not to in a society where weight is the main focus…I definetly used to compare myself to others ALOT, especially in the depths of my eating disorder. I can remeber being 10 and comparing myself (particularly my legs) to models in magazines and all it did was set me up for years and years of negativity towards my self and body. even when i lost alot of weight and reached a very unhealthy low weight i still compared myself to others…and worse than that was how i would compare myself to old pictures of me and think nothing but awful things about myself because i used to weigh X etc. Finally, after years of body-image issues and social comparison im realizing that the only thing comparison does is make me feel bad…it never ends well.there is absolutely no point to it because everyone is differnt…different and unique..thats what makes us all beautiful. when i look around now, i see the beauty in differnt shapes and sizes and i just want to be HEALTHY, healthy and happy…because its about how you feel that matters and for me,being kind to myself makes me feel great and i dont feel the need to compare myself to others. I still have days where i dont feel so great…but i think all women do, regardless of whether they are in recovery from an eating disorder or not. The more i treat myself well, eat well and have a healthy hapy mindset, the happier i feel about myself, regardless of who is around me and what size they are.
thanks for always posting about such great topics :) i think you really have found your calling!

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8 Shelby May 20, 2009

Do you struggle with comparing yourself to the women in your lives? -Yes, I do. It’s really hard because everyone says to stop looking at magazine but you’re right…it happens with real people too.

How does it make you feel? -It makes me feel worthless. Like if I’m not perfect than no one will love me.

Can you think of ways to stop it? -Point out the parts of you that you like. Your personality, smile, laugh, booty (my favorite part of me haha). Anything to get your mind off your so-called flaws.

Do you still think about hurtful comments that people have said to you in your life? -Yes, but I know now that they were probably insecure as well. The only time people make fun of others is to make themselves feel better.

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9 SarahF May 20, 2009

Angela,

I love your blog. I read it fairly consistently (even when I had to stop reading other food blogs because of the emphasis on food it was putting on my life).

I think everyone does compare themselves to other people. I know when I was growing up my mom would buy us an ice cream cone and then she’d say a overweight person and say, “Seeing that just makes me want to throw this ice cream cone away” (my mom is 5’7 and 120 pounds). It gave me a fear of unhealthy food because I was afraid that by eating it I would become overweight. It’s only been recently that I’ve been able to realize that no, eating ice cream will not make me gain weight-as long as I eat it moderately.

I also find that through my mother, I often see overweight people and compare myself to them as though I am somehow superior because I am 5’11 and 140 pounds (even though that is 99% genetics). It’s been something that I’ve been making a conscious effort to stop and everytime I think something negative about a person, I force it out of my head and instead focus on a good quality that they have (maybe they have really nice hair, or I like their outfit).

We all have our own journeys and why should I judge them because their’s has taken a different way then mine.

Sorry for the book-your post was just so great I had to comment

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10 SarahF May 20, 2009

Oops-that should say my mom would SEE an overweight person (not say an overweight person)

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11 Fitzalan May 20, 2009

It is impossible to quit comparing yourself entirely to others. It is a positive thing in some ways. I love comparing myself to women who are older than me that have incredible careers and have acheived so much. It makes me think, if they can do it, why can’t I? But when it comes to body image…I have finally accepted I am not going to look like anyone else in this world and that is because of our genes. They don’t have my shoulders (something I used to be very self concious about) but they also don’t have the football playing father who gave these massive things to me.

I used to be much smaller. I used to be the skinnest girl in the room for the most part. I was 100% obsessed with it and was miserable. I couldn’t do anything in life without having a huge internal struggle.

The most hurtful comment about my body that I have ever gotten was said fairly recently and by my own mother. She said that she was looking at pictures at my brother’s wedding (about 6 years ago) and that I looked fabulous then and I really should try to get back to that size and to get those arms back because my arms don’t look nearly as good now….

I was 109lbs and starving myself in those pictures….and she should/does know that.

This would have thrown former me into a anorexic tailspin. Now I just laugh and think wow….no wonder I got an eating disorder. Glad that thing is gone. I’m a lot happier.

(I feel like I always write books in your comments but your topics/questions are so thought provoking!)

Happiness Awaits

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12 Melissa May 20, 2009

I find myself constantly comparing myself to others. It’s an awful habit and one that I so much want to escape. It’s hard to come to grips that my size does not define the person I am. I can get all nit-picky about my body, the shape of my thighs, my complexion, ect. But when it all comes down to it these things don’t define the person that I am. What’s inside does, how I enjoy life does. The world has such an emphasis on having a “perfect” body that I think it’s taken over practically every woman’s thoughts. It’s like a competition that everyone wants to win. One way or another we are all beautiful women and no one can take that away from us. So while I still struggle with body image and I still compare myself to others. I am slowly coming to terms with loving me for who I am!!

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13 Jenna May 20, 2009

Hi, Angela,

I love your blog and I love this post! I thought you might want to know that I was reading earlier today, and there was an ad along the side for some magic formula that could allegedly make you “lose 25 pounds in 1 month by following this 1 rule.” I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, and I know some of these blog advertising groups don’t give you control over the ads they put up, but it contrasted so sharply with your message that I thought you should know.

Thank you for your wonderful blog!

Jenna

Jenna, Thanks for letting me know. Can you tell me if it was the Foodbuzz ad on the right or the Google ad on the left? My suspicion is that it is the google ad. I have been thinking of getting rid of it because of the ads they put up. ~A

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14 Marisa May 20, 2009

Do you struggle with comparing yourself to the women in your lives? – Yes, often it doesn’t even have anything to do with beauty, but with “thinness”. I am trying to remind myself and grasp that inner beauty is so much more valuable than a slim figure.

How does it make you feel? – I find it makes me really frustrated because I feel like if they can do it why can’t I stick to my diet or exercise regime. And then the negative thoughts just snowball.

Can you think of ways to stop it? – Its funny, when I asked my boyfriend if he found me more attractive now that I have lost thirty pounds, he said that it doesn’t make a difference to him, that I was always beautiful. That really put things in perspective, because he saw beauty when I felt like there was little there. I try and remember events like this when I feel down and it is a reality check that the size of my pants does not define who I am. It kind of echoes your idea of positive thinking through workouts.

Do you still think about hurtful comments that people have said to you in your life? – Of course! There was a guy in high school who called me a “fat b!tch” and I can remember where I was and what was going on at that exact moment. I hate how it has stuck with me, but honestly, I am just about to finish my first degree and I have realized that they were just words and I feel so much better in my skin nowadays.

I love these questions Angela, in makes me reflect on a lot of things, and hopefully improve my inner ideas!

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15 katecooks May 20, 2009

i definitely do this! i am blessed to have amazing girlfriends in LA. they are also amazingly gorgeous models and actresses. i cant help but wish i had their bodies sometimes! of course, they are ALL taller than me, so i have to rationalize that i will never be that tall, so i will never look that way! on the flipside, they remark how much they would love to have my boobs (is that TMI?!) every single time we go out. i know that they freak out about their much flatter chests all the time! so everyone has body envy, even if they look “picture perfect.” i think it is natural to compare and sometimes even want to look a different way, but i think if you are positive about your body, it’s okay to think that someone else is pretty or has great arms or a great nose, or whatever it might be. you just have to remember the things people are envying when they look at YOU!!

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16 Evey May 20, 2009

Angela, you are so inspiring and even more motivating than you know. This particular post really struck a chord with me.

My whole life I’ve been bigger. Ever since I was a little girl, and my one year older than me sister was tiny and still is. I’ve always been unhappy with my weight but only did mediocre things to try and change it, i.e. fad diets. It’s only in the past few months that I’ve made a lifestyle change that I am happy with organic and pescatarian. I’ve found workouts that I really do enjoy, yoga, and spinning. It seems only that when I started really enjoying my lifestyle, and not obsessing over it I noticed my body to change. 30 Lbs down. yes, I still compare myself to other women, but I know that I am happy with road I am on, and with each day I like my body a little bit more.

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17 Julie May 20, 2009

girl I am ALWAYS comparing myself to other people. it stinks! i think it’s important for women to realize how beautiful we are and that the things that we think are “not great” about us are usually the things that other people think are beautiful!

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18 Elisabeth May 20, 2009

It is so difficult not to compare ourselves with other women. I find that I don’t compare myself as much now as I did prior to receiving treatment for my ED, but I do have the occasional ugly comparison creep into my thought pattern every now and again.

When these thoughts come up, I have to remind myself that we’re all women, and we all face the same challenges. Just because I *think* that she looks perfect doesn’t mean that she thinks she does. Most likely, she’s obsessing about her body image more than I am my own.

I also stick with the standard process that I learned in treatment…

All of these comparisons come down to having a negative core belief. At some point, you’ve determined that a perfect body equals a perfect life, or that being thin is the best thing ever, that being thin means that you’re in control, or whatever the case may be. The negative belief associated with that would be something like “She’s thinner than I am…that means she’s better than me”

When that creeps into my mind, I CHALLENGE IT.

“WHERE’S THE EVIDENCE that she’s better than me? WHERE’S THE PROOF that I am not as good as her?”

Then I start answering that question…”I don’t know her, she might be evil, and I’m not evil, I’m a good person! Maybe she is nice too, but that doesn’t make her better than me”…and on, and on, and on.

I’m not sure if that made sense or not. HA! The point is that if you stop yourself dead in your tracks and then go “hey…wait a second, what the heck are you thinking so negatively for!?” there is more of an opportunity to reshape your core belief into the way that it should be.

I attempted to do a Negative Core Belief Challenge contest for the month of May on my website, but only ONE person has participated! lol…I guess I don’t have enough readers that are interested. Or enough readers at all!

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19 Sharon May 20, 2009

I was a chubby youngster and I’ll always remember this ‘bully’ type boy in elementary school saying to me “There’s Weight Watchers you know, Sharon”. I wasn’t even that big but it’s something I’ve never forgotten. Then there was sweet redemption when I saw this kid a few years ago and he had packed on the pounds and I’m leaner and fitter than ever. I took the high road and didn’t say anything although it was killing me not to tell him to go to Weight Watchers! What a jerk store!

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20 Jenna May 20, 2009

Hi, Angela,

It was on the lower left side.

Your blog is helping me to change my attitude about food and my body—thank you thank you thank you!

Jenna

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21 Sheri May 20, 2009

Great post Angela….really got me thinking!

Do you struggle with comparing yourself to the women in your lives? ~ Yes, I must admit I do compare myself to other women. Not to the women in magazines or television but to real life women.

How does it make you feel? ~ I feel dumb for doing it and try and remind myself that I am in the best shape I have ever been in my life and look pretty darn good for after having a child and being 37!

Can you think of ways to stop it? ~ I just have to keep reminding myself that everyone is different and that we are all unique and beautiful no matter what. For the most part I am very happy with my body image.

Do you still think about hurtful comments that people have said to you in your life? ~ Not so much anymore now that I am older I have become more mature that way. But when I was younger it would really bug me a lot! I did get teased in high school and stuff and that used to really eat away at me but now that I am older I have moved on and away from those thoughts.

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22 ari May 20, 2009

i definitely struggle with comparing myself to the women in my life. girls in my school have seemingly the perfect bodies: big boobs, flat stomach, great legs. and most of them don’t even go to the gym or anything! i often wonder why i work so hard at the gym or try to eat healthily if i can’t look like them? but then i take a step back and realize that working out and healthful eating makes me feel awesome, and thats why i do it. i’m slowly starting to realize that i will probably never have the dream body i want because even at my lowest weight when my mom sent me to a nutritionist and therapy for an eating disorder, i still had love handles. so now i’m just trying to be happy with my body the way that i am:)

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23 Kris May 20, 2009

Hi Ange,

Yes, I definately do compare myself tto others. I think although it is somewhat natural, it is also very unhealthy. For myself, the more I compare, the more I feel badly about myself. It does absolutely no good to size up the other person, because somehow I think we are all doomed to come up the loser. After all, we are always harder on ourselves. The sad past is, that it doesn’t end there. As life progresses, the comparisons also increase. Who has a bigger house, who makes more money, whose kids are more beautiful and smarter….It goes on and on. Actually I find the child comparison to be the most evil. Moms are very hard on each other and often look down upon others for different parenting styles etc. It is a really hard transition in life, to find a way to make friends with other moms, without them driving you mental!!! ;)

I try to remind myself daily how lucky I am for all that I have..a beautiful family, a nice house, a job etc. I may not be as thin as I was before kids, but I am healthy. I try not to be bitter at the other moms at the gym who are skinnier or prettier. Who knows what battles they may have within or what they must sacrifice to look that way. I am not about to give up food I like or obsess to the point where it consumes my life. If I want a cupcake, I am going to eat it and I shouldn’t feel bad about it for the next 2 days :)

If I look back on my 5 years ago, I think, wow..I was so thin and pretty, but guess what? I didn’t think so at the time! So, I should live for today and be happy for who I am and what I have become because one day, I will look back on today and smile!

xo

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24 Jennifer May 20, 2009

Hi Angela, Reading your blog has honestly become one of the highlights of my day:)

I have compared myself to people for so long that I get the feeling that I don’t truly know who I am. I have been wishing I was someone else for so long, that I don’t think I have taken the time to develope a true identity. It is sad that I am just realizing this at 28, but now that I see it, I can change it.

I am still teased on a regular basis about my weight, and comments are still made in malls by adults, and when I walk with my daughter by the Junior high students on their lunch break. When this happens, it feels like my heart is breaking and I want to cry, but I hold my head up, keep walking and don’t look back. I am working hard to be healthy, and I will not let anyone hold my self worth in their hands.

Thanks so much for your blog!

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25 Krista May 20, 2009

Another great post Angela! If only these blogs had been around when I was in high school! I can remember numerous times when distant family members (never immediate family, thank God!)would remark how I was “the bigger one” between me and my tiny sister. So devastating to a girl going through puberty! Or when my ballet instructor would tell my mother that I needed to go an another diet in order to perform to the best of my ability. I thank God I had a supportive family around me or I definitely could have seen myself being thrown into an eating disorder.

Great thoughtful post, I really feel like your posts come from a place of love. Keep it up!

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26 Anna May 20, 2009

Angela, I am SO glad you wrote about this super-important topic (and so eloquently!) You really hit the nail on the head.

I’ve experienced a pretty wide range of body weights throughout my life, and one thing was consistent throughout it all: I always compared myself to others and felt inadequate. I’ve gotten better at reducing such negative thoughts, but it’s SO hard! It’s human nature I suppose.

I received hurtful comments when I was below a healthy weight as well as. I’ve been stunned by how insensitive and downright rude people can be. The worst part is, they often came from friends and family, not strangers. Something I try to remember, though, is that peoples’ perspectives are so much a product of their OWN body image/weight/food issues. In my experience, I’ve noticed that peoples’ relationships with food while growing up and the attitudes of their parents have a huge effect their perspectives (for better and for worse). Everyone is dealing with their own issues and it’s a shame that they sometimes negatively affect those around them.

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27 Sara May 20, 2009

I always compare myself to everyone else. I see someone at work eating a candy bar, and I wonder why I eat pretty well and exercise and I’m much bigger than they are. And now it’s a bit worse since I’ve been injured and can’t exercise the same way (hopefully, that will end soon!). I’ve struggled with weight issues my whole life; most of my family has, with the exception of one thin sister, always eating whatever she wanted, who finally understand a bit of the struggle since she had three kids (although only in how things fit her differently than before; she’s down to her regular size). Anyway, it’s a struggle to get past what everyone else does and just do for yourself. For example, sometimes I read food blogs and wonder how the writer says she is full after what she ate; I often think, I’d still be starving! So that part is hard. Even on the days when I think I’m doing well and look good, usually something changes my mind (someone else said this, too; usually just an unfair comparison to someone else).

Sorry for rambling. Thank you for your blog, Angela. It’s great to read that others feel the same way about a lot of things, so thank you for the forum!

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28 Caroline May 20, 2009

Angela, I have been reading your blog for a while, but never posted before. This topic really strikes a chord with me. I feel that I am constantly comparing myself other women, especially in places like the gym, like Shelly said above.

I got married about 3 years ago, and since then I have gained a little weight. I’ve been having a hard time with my self-image, particularly around other women. I go to the gym a lot, and seeing other prettier and thinner women can make me feel really down on myself.

I am encouraged by your positive messages on this blog. I hope that I can take your advice about being more kind to myself to heart. We are all unique and beautiful in our own way. Thanks for everything you do, Angela!

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29 Christy May 20, 2009

I have tears in my eyes. When I read the mantra “I don’t need to change” it really hit home for me. I don’t need to change. I will not be happier 10 pounds from now. Life will not be better. People will not love me more. Life will not be perfect. I’ve got a healthy body that I have not appreciated for the first 28 years of my life. That changes. Now. I always think of the saying “Appreciate the body you have now because, one day, it’ll be the body you wish you have.” That’s always true. Love yourself today. Don’t love yourself when you lose 10 pounds. Don’t wait to live life and enjoy it in 10 pounds. Do it. NOW.

Thank you so much for this incredible post.

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30 Chelsea May 20, 2009

Oh yeah, I definitely have trouble with comparing myself to other women. I think that people will think less of me because I’m not perfect. So I try to remind myself that I don’t think less of anyone because he or she isn’t thin/beautiful/hot/whatever “perfect” is.

One of the most liberating experiences I had with regard to body image was starting to shower in the open showers at the gym. I realized I had no idea what a normal, healthy woman looked like. I finally realized that female bodies, rather being on a scale from good to bad, were more like variations on a theme.

I actually wrote a long blog post about it here: http://earlyrunner.blogspot.com/2009/02/what-real-women-look-like.html

I’d also like to add that I think your blog wonderful because you are so honest about the ups and downs of everyday life.

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31 Help Meghan Run May 20, 2009

Fabulous, Angela. Just fabulous. :) We are so much more than what we eat or what we look like. Each one of us is unique and wonderful in our own way.

We should strive to be healthy of course, but that shouldn’t come at the sake of our happiness or always involve comparing ourselves with others. Do things for yourself and not for others. And absolutely enjoy what you are doing right now and where you are.

I love this quote: “Stop living life for what’s around the corner and start enjoying the walk down the street.”

Thanks for all the inspiring words!
www. HelpMeghanRun .com

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32 Hannah May 20, 2009

I’m so glad you wrote this! This issue still permeates within me after struggling from an eating disorder for the past 2 years that is hard to let go of. Especially in high school, when everyone compares each other. There’s even specific people who I compare myself to and shouldn’t-i.e. one does modeling and is very thin and does ballet 6 days a week. I have to remember that that is her lifestyle, not mine. I also know that she’s not that happy and always stressed because she tries to do “everything.” That puts things in more perspective.

I love these posts Angela!

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33 Kayzilla May 20, 2009

Great topic, I think. Not many people are willing to open up about their insecurities when it comes to attractiveness. It’s like..we all know they’re there, we just don’t truely believe other people have insecurities too because they’re very good at hiding it.

2008 was a year of hell for me. I battled with myself the entire year over looking the way I did. I didn’t even the guy I’m now dating was checking me out the few times we saw each other that year because I was too busy thinking that I looked fat and ugly!! Those little comments, whether from strangers or family/friends, were just eating at me every day. I would weigh myself obsessively, think about what I was going to eat next and how many calories was in it while I was studying (needless to say, I didn’t get much done that year lol), and I developed a binge eating disorder. It makes me sad to think of all the time I wasted being so hung up on my physical apearance compared to the skinnier girls my age.

But, it’s like being tripped into a hole with angry house wives with bats. On the downside, you’re going to be beaten up by a bunch of housewives that you surely thought you could defeat, but on the upside you’ll learn how to avoid tripping into another hole like that, and you’ll learn how to climb out of it all. You become smarter about it, you become more compassionate, and more motivated to make sure others don’t go through the hardship you went through. The scars from the experience are still there, but even the bad petty things in life like obsessing over being attractive can have a good outcome in the end.

I don’t regret my experience one bit. I’m now doing cognitive therapy, and I feel stronger. I’m gaining knowledge about psychology and proper nutrition while I’m at it. What helps me to remind myself that I’m attractive in my own way is for every bad comment that slips out, I give myself two good ones, and I feel better. I also have cards that I read everyday like “You are an AMAZING person! Anyone who says otherwise is blind, a big booger brain, or insecure with themselves.” It really sets the tone for the rest of the day. I highly reccomend making cards to read to yourself everyday. I also do the mantra thing.

But most of all, I don’t let it stop me. I don’t stop to mope about someone snickering at the fact that my hair looks messed up today. If I keep going on with life, those little things don’t matter anymore, and I usually don’t remember it until I reflect on the day.. But by then, I’ve done so much good stuff that I can easily be like “psht eff that person” and not give a crap about it.

My self-esteem is still in progress, but I think anyone is capable of changing their way of thinking. We’re neato animals, us humans.. We’re capable of healing ourselves, learning, and growing at every stage of life.

I love these posts. :] They’re very insightful and make me reflect on how I feel about that sort of topic too. I hope you have a good day Angela!!

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34 Lily May 20, 2009

Please share this with your readers, if you want. If I eat less than 2700 calories a day, I lose weight. I maintain a weight of 105 with 2700 calories a day. I do workout 90 minutes per day, but NEVER calorie torching cardio.

Peace.

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35 Brandi C. May 20, 2009

Your Mother is SO right! Your blogs gets me through the tough times =] Your are such an AMAZING, inspirational, wise, beautiful, thoughtful, creative woman. YAY Angie! (I know your name is Angela, but I someone how always end up shortening names. I hope you don’t mind.) You Rock Lady!

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36 Lara May 20, 2009

Great post and I want to tattoo those mantras onto my arm LOL

I do compare myself constantly with “real” women I see on the street, friends, work, the gym etc. it kind of waxes and wanes depending on where I am with my body acceptance which seems to change from day to day. I have always had an “issue” with not liking my legs. Now that it is spring and more people are wearing skirts I find my eyes constantly going down to the legs and noticing all these great legs and lamenting how many are so short and stumpy. I almost never wear shorts or skirts even in the height of summer. I know intellecutally it is stupid and as someone who has been very very thin (unhealthily so) I know that being thin is NOT the key to happiness and that just because someone looks great doesn’t mean they are any happy or more fulfilled than I am.

Love reading everyone’s comments and see so many of us go through the same struggles. This is an area I really want/need to continue to work on.

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37 Danielle May 20, 2009

Great conversation starter! :D

For the time being I can’t figure out a way to stop the comparison… but I try to use it for good rather than evil! When I see a woman with especially tight abs or muscular arms (that’s you dear!) I use it as a motivation to keep eating healthy and working out so that I can be proud of my own fit body in the mirror and know that my dedication paid off.

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38 Margie May 20, 2009

Comparing oneself can be so negative, but I’m truly trying to put a new spin on it in my own life, particularly in my weight training. When I see healthy, fit, muscular women I certainly compare myself to her and motivates me and drives me to work even harder.

Having been overweight for most of my life the scars of hurtful comments will always be there, but they lessen over time as I continue towards building my best body inside and out.

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39 Jenna May 21, 2009

I actually found this site while searching for resources for eating disorder recovery. This particular post really “hit home” with me. I am incorporating many of the same values (of food, body image and healthy activity) into my recovery that shine through in your writing. Thank you for being a positive role model for women like me. It’s great to know that the kind of peace that you have with yourself is attainable.

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40 Angie May 21, 2009

Great post, Angela.

I think all women compare themselves to others from time to time. I think one of the keys to lessening the comparisons is to find that happiness and strength inside yourself. As some of your readers commented, even at their “lowest” weights…they weren’t healthy and happy. It is about recognizing our instrinsic value no matter what the scale says today. I think some of that comes with age and maturity…I know I am way happier with my body now at age 34 than I was in my 20’s or teens. I know that the “perfect body” does not bring happiness…and that there probably is no such thing as the “perfect body” anyway! We all need to remember the value within and be grateful for the amazing things that our healthy and strong bodies do for us each day.

Thanks for a thought-provoking post!

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41 Sally May 21, 2009

In general I feel good about my body but sometimes it is so hard not to compare to other women. I work in research and our subject group is adolescents and just yesterday I found myself comparing my body/weight to that of a 14 year old girl! I know how stupid it is to compare myself to an 8th grader, but I couldn’t help it. Thank you for this post.

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42 Loral August 14, 2010

HI there, just visiting your site for the first time and so touched by this article… I am a personal trainer now but when I was younger I was a dancer and had a really hard time with my body’s lean toward muscular build. Doing an entire class in front of a full wall mirror when my arms were noticeably more muscular (or just muscular at all!) compare to the other girls. This actually led me to leave dancing last year (I had gone back after a few years off) and it still saddens me. Even though I’d never want skinny arms its the pressure you feel of being different that hurts. Its nice to hear that someone else feels the same! Your site is awesome and I look forward to baking and learning from it!

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