Welcome to our time of tea & reflection together! Come on in…I have a lovely tray of treats & you can choose what your cuppa is today! I have a variety of choices either hot or iced!
It’s a beautiful sunny winter’s day here, not a cloud in the sky & though it’s a little chilly out, the sunshine is delightful. I’m having a Lady Grey & French Earl Grey blend (blended by my own hands) & we have freshly baked gf buckwheat bacon, cheese & tomato hot muffins, split in two with butter melting upon their deliciousness.
Now we are seated in the sun with our cuppa & treats, let us begin our reflection together…
Beauty is said to be in the ‘eye of the beholder’…
What one person’s ideal or perception in what constitutes beauty may not meet the ideals & perceptions of another’s. However this is greatly influenced by cultural practices, family & societal ideals.
As a clinical counselor, specializing in Adolescent & Family therapy I had an alarming & ever increasing number of younger adolescents in serious crisis over their body image…my counseling portfolio was adolescents ranging from 9 – 18 years age & their families. Covering a region of a 1,000 sq kilometers.
Now we know that adolescence is a time of being acutely aware of the enormous changes happening in our body & that this is a completely normal stage of development.
But the increasing number of young patients with Body Dysmorphic Disorder was a very disturbing trend indeed.
Dysmorphia or Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is a mental health condition that focus’ & obsesses upon an area/s of the body with great dissatisfaction or repulsion.
Unless professionally addressed this obsession will never be satisfied, no matter what cosmetic procedure is performed to reach the perceived perfection…satisfaction may come momentarily after a procedure but will eventually fade…Or the focus/obsession will be transferred to another area of the body…
As I met with my professional peers, they too voiced their concerns as they were experiencing a similar trend with their adolescent patients!
We realized that there were certain influences impacting children today, the main one being the body beautiful obsession in our western society, that is constantly assaulting the senses of young adolescents.
This is not only through all forms of media that they are constantly exposed to but also from peer, cultural & familial influences.
Westernised society’s obsession with the body beautiful has now reached epidemic proportions, which is deeply affecting our children! This epidemic is driven by a very greedy & insatiable money hungry industry!
Who have set a new so called ‘norm’ for what beautiful is supposed to be & what everyone, male & female alike, are supposed to aspire to…& this is being normalized through today’s popular culture.
Leading many to believe that looking uniquely natural at any age in life, even in adolescence is just not good enough or worse…repulsive!
As we all know & may have experienced, peer pressure in adolescence can be overwhelming, every adolescent wants to be accepted for who they are & how they uniquely look by their peers…especially at this time of rapid growth & development when self image & awareness is highlighted.
Sadly, kids can be very cruel to each other! A flippant negative comment about appearance or an area of the body can have a lasting impact!
Cultural & Familial Influences
We need to question our cultural practices & popular culture’s influence on what beauty is seen to be in our own cultures, when it is negatively impacting & hurting our children!
We also need to be very aware of our unguarded comments about our own bodies or another’s (ie. while watching tv) within hearing distance of children, as this can also be deeply impacting…
A scenario to demonstrate;
We’re shopping with our adolescent, we find some cute fashion items to try on, they accompany us to the change area.
But on seeing ourself in the mirror, our eyes are drawn to the parts of our body we don’t particularly like…you haven’t realized at this point that you too are a victim of this deceptive body beautiful message.
As you walk out of the change cubicle & ask your adolescent about the outfit, “What do you think?” They reply, “That looks great Mama!” You reply “Really?” Then your thoughts are verbalized, “I don’t think it covers my bat wing arms enough & don’t you think it’s highlighting my big hips?”
Your adolescent, who now has a very confused look upon their face, asks you what is wrong with your arms & hips?
It suddenly hits you…you too have fallen prey to this predatory so called body beautiful ideal!
What messages have we related to our adolescent in this scenario?
- Fear & insecurity of the naturally aging body.
- A negative body image.
A rather interesting but very sobering scenario…Don’t you think? Sadly, this scenario is being innocently played out thousands of times a day, across the westernised world…With children of all ages!
Children are listening & absorbing every word we utter in each situation, that’s how they learn to navigate the world around them!
We really need to deeply reflect upon this so called body beautiful industry & the message that we may have believed about our own bodies!
This industry is constantly trying to convince us that unless we have their standards, procedures & products we fall short…& are just not…beautiful!
What does the One who Created us have to say about natural development & the aging process?
“…gray/white hair is a crown of beauty & glory, if it is found in the way of goodness…” Proverbs 16:31
Making this personal…
My body has aged with the chronic condition of Hashimoto’s disease & the constant pain of Fibromyalgia, so I am no stranger to the pressures of the body beautiful industry’s message.
However, I have chosen not to fall victim but rather love my natural body because at every stage of life I have had a uniqueness all my own.
“…I am awe inspiringly & wonderfully made!”
by the Creator of the Universe! Therefore I am beautiful in His sight & that is our true standard of measure dear friend! You look beautiful just as you are!
Thus, I am celebrating my white hair, my wrinkly laughter lines, my age spots & my wobbly’s because I have an amazing body that has nurtured 5 of God’s precious little miracles (4 daughter’s & a son)! All wonderful signs of an aging life that has lived through the hard times & the good times!
It still gets me up each morning to enjoy the life that has graciously been gifted to me…to live life abundantly!
Are you celebrating your beautifully created uniqueness my friend?
Until next time,
Jennifer is a published author, find out more in The Book Nook
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