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The Real Reason Women Don’t Like Their Bodies

By Debbie Mandel

Did you know that only about 50% of women like their bodies? And if a woman doesn’t like her body, then she is less likely to eat healthy, exercise and take care of herself. This increases the likelihood of weight gain, fatigue, depression and poor muscle tone which will fuel the negative cycle.

The problem is that women are social creatures who are competitive. They tend to like their bodies if the people in their social group accept them for who they are and interact positively with them. However, if there is a mean girl spirit in their social network or a family member who makes them feel inadequate physically, then they will internalize the criticism and lose their personal empowerment. Once this happens, a woman can develop eating disorders, get addicted to cosmetic surgery and aesthetic procedures or self-soothe with junk food.

How to like your body:
  • Find your social niche where you can shine. Your friends should lift you up not trample on your self-esteem. Good friends can give you a reality check when you feel less than as they will remind you of the things you do well.
  • Forget the affirmations in front of the mirror: “I am beautiful inside and out.” Research studies show these affirmations don’t work because you don’t really believe them. In fact, they can be counterproductive. Instead do something affirming for your body – on the inside. Eat a healthy meal, get a health screening or move into physical activity.
  • Consider cultivating these beautiful attributes: a sense of style, authenticity, and freshness and novelty for the element of surprise. What is the personal story that you are communicating to others?
  • Even though society is prejudiced towards the young and beautiful, opening doors to jobs and relationships for them, you can become more beautiful to others when you share your inner light. While superficial beauty opens the door, if substance is lacking, there is a wide-open exit door. However, your intellect, positivism and kindness once revealed will give you staying power. The key is to reveal your authentic self.
  • Take your cue from what your body is capable of doing today. If you are of childbearing years, you can create life. If you are older and past this time, look at what your body can still do in terms of communicating wisdom, helping others, feeling sexual/ vital and creating art or a legacy.
Tracy Tylka, associate professor of psychology at Ohio State University, claims that Body Mass Index does not affect women’s like or dislike of their body as much as previously thought. The culprit here is family, friends and the media. I wish to add, “No one can trivialize you, but you. Inevitably some people will line up behind you while others won’t. What’s important is that you are in good alignment. Make your activities and relationships self affirming.”

Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life, Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout and Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul, a stress-reduction specialist, motivational speaker, a personal trainer and mind/body lecturer. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WGBB AM1240 in New York City , produces a weekly wellness newsletter, and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: