I heard a statistic on the radio yesterday that 98% of women are unhappy with some element of their body image and think negative thoughts about their body every 15 minutes. If that statistic is true, it makes me feel very sad. It’s not how it has to be. I can sympathise with it though. You see, when I was growing up and went through my teenage years I did everything I could to make my ‘gigantic thighs’ smaller! Those of you who know me, will know that I am not overweight and never have been. But my teenage self couldn’t see that. All I could see was that my friends had ‘lovely slim thighs’, thighs that I coveted and thighs that I spent lots of time and energy in trying to achieve. Countless exercises, starving myself and existing on an apple a day sometimes. Guess what? Those slim thighs never materialised! I got slimmer, of course I did, but I got slimmer everywhere and my thighs were still in the same proportion as they ever were.
Thankfully a friend told my mum what I was doing, because of course I hid it at home (thank you Katherine Haden)! So it didn’t go to the extremes that it could have done if left unchecked. I then got a better perspective of my body image, noticing that I had a really slim waist and as I grew I realised that an ‘hour-glass’ figure is something to be thankful for!
Through First Impression’s image training, I learned how to dress for my shape and to dress in a way that expresses who I am and helps me to feel confident and fabulous. I believe that everyone should have this knowledge, but based on the research, we have a long way to go! 75% of 11-21 year old girls diet to look more attractive (research by Girl Guiding UK).
I regularly go into schools to share this information with children at that impressionable age, pre-teen, as their bodies begin to change. I share my story with them and I talk to them about wearing clothes that suit them, not feeling pressured into wearing everything that happens to be in fashion. You all see the result of wearing leggings, skinny jeans and those hideous dropped crotch trousers that makes all young boys look as though they have really short legs! Wear what suits your body shape, wear what makes you look good and most importantly, wear what makes you feel good.
If you are reading this and you are a parent of pre-teens or teens, please let them know that most magazine images are not real, most are airbrushed, re-touched or doctored in some way. I show the children at my workshop images pre and post changes and they love spotting the differences. You would be amazed at how different the real image is. This is one of the contributing factors to beliefs about needing to achieve a ‘perfect’ body. Of course, the media is not the only influence and it can be an easy target. I invite you to also consider your own language as an adult. How do you talk about your body? What do your children hear? Are you setting a good example or are you paving the way for a distorted body image? When I talk to 10-11 year olds there is already talk of being too fat, or too thin – where does that thought come from?
If you would like me to speak at your child’s school, or if I can help you with your own body image, please do get in touch.
If you have any questions, I’m very happy for you to email them privately to me on the email address below.
I am passionate about helping people to be body confident and to look and feel their best.
With my best wishes
Lyn Bromley MFIPI, ACMA – Managing Director, First Impressions
Lyn Bromley is Managing Director of First Impressions Training Ltd and a Master of The Federation of Image Professionals International. (FIPI) She is also Membership Director of FIPI and a leader of Achiever’s Academy for Women.
Please contact us if you would like to know more about our programmes, bespoke image training or one-to-one coaching.
First Impressions have a network of over 150 consultants working across the UK – to find one in your area visit the website and take a look at the consultant map.
Telephone: +44 (0)1926 623038