Body Image Defining a “Real” Woman

May 21, 2021 | Mindset, Motherhood

Earlier this year as I was creating my new company NoBadDays online my marketing team was tasked with coming up with a new tagline or slogan to go with the company name. We brainstormed for hours, we wanted something that would draw in women who were busy, who were tired of being sick and tired, who were just the everyday woman. When they sent me the first mockup of my logo with the tagline: Fitness and Nutrition for the Real Woman, I had a little pit in my stomach. I was stuck on the word “real”.  I started to poll my friends and colleagues in the industry and I took to Google… “What is a real woman?” Boy was I shocked by the responses I got back from my friends who lovingly told me that it was demeaning, backhanded, close-minded and made “real women” sound “less than.” Selenis Leyva, a contributor for the Huffington post asked the question, “So who then are the women that don’t fall into the “real women” category? Fake Women? Fembots?” Why are they considered outside of “real?” Who decided they were superior or set apart, and based on whose beauty standard?” After reading her perspective and with feedback pretty solid from my friends I was thoroughly convinced that no woman wants to be put into a box or labeled! Upon further reading of Selenis’s article I would agree with her line of questioning. Who is deciding what a woman should look like in order to be considered attractive or worthy of attention? It’s unfortunate but a truth of our society that women are labeled and first impressions are given on appearance alone. In an article written by the Business Insider, science says people decide 11 things within seconds of meeting you. Things like status was determined solely on brand named clothing. Trustworthiness and sexual orientation based on your face alone, and to be perceived as smart you needed to wear thick glasses, speak expressively, have good eye contact and lean in to conversations. Visible tattoos labeled a woman as promiscuous, less attractive and a heavy drinker. For people to think you are successful and on your way to a promotion it’s important to have tailored suits and dress really nice. Do you want to be seen as more extroverted and adventurous, then the way you walk says a lot about you.  Within seconds of watching people walk, one study found that walking with a loose gait as opposed to a tight gait painted the picture in participants minds that the walkers were easy going adventurous types, whereas the tight walkers were labeled more neurotic. First impressions are also true for dating sites! Have you ever heard of the popular dating site Tinder? Swipe left to reject, swipe right to show an interest in matching. According to a recent study, appearing more extroverted, open to new experiences, emotionally stable and likeable are the highest ways to get a “swipe right, or heart.” It didn’t matter what was in the description. Appearing more ambitious and competent labeled you as undatable. These results suggest that photo-based first impressions may influence a decision to contact a potential mate, even after learning other relevant information about the person.  

Women have so much to live up to that it’s easier to just not do anything, according to researchers. The Nationaleatingdisorders.org says 81% of 10 year old girls have dieted and 8 million people in the US fight a life and death battle with an eating disorder.  On a global scale women hate their bodies more than ever before. The Dove Global Beauty and Confidence Report done in 2016, surveyed 10,500 women from 13 different countries ages 10-60. According to their study only 24% of US women felt body confident, Japan ranking the lowest at 8% and South Africa the highest at 64%.  Even more shocking is that when women and girls don’t feel good about their bodies they behave differently; 9 in 10 women and 8 in 10 girls opt out of important life activities such as engaging with loved ones and friends, 9 in 10 women and 7 in 10 girls stop themselves from eating or otherwise put their health at risk. Lastly, 5 in 10 women and 7 in 10 girls are no longer confident to be assertive in their opinions or stick to decisions. These staggering statistics hurt everyone and not just the woman.  If a woman can’t fully engage in life then she can’t fully engage with her significant other, she can’t be there emotionally for her kids or others in her life that need her. She stops dreaming of more and her purpose and passions can fade away.  All in the name of shame built upon unrealistic standards. 

There is certainly nothing wrong with wanting to take care of your body, dress a certain way, wear makeup or highlight your hair. This is what furthers our diversity, fuels our creativity, embrace who we are as an individual and highlight our best features. I personally love makeup, fashion and the health industry. The problem isn’t enjoying these things, it’s the obsession and the stronghold that these industries might create.  When we no longer celebrate who we are and who’s we are we have succumbed to the grips of poor body image.   

We are looking to the wrong places and listening to the wrong voices when seeking our definition of true beauty. When only 5% of the global population can even achieve the “ideal” current woman portrayed on social media and advertising we have to rationally wonder, “why do I try so hard?” According to Dylan Jones, editor or GQ, “we can’t even believe what we see as real, because the photos of these 5% are photo shopped and morphed into even more unrealistic personas.” Check out the commercial from Dove titled “Dove Evolution” to see this first hand. 

So if we as a society have been led astray by social media and advertising where is it that we turn to define a “real woman?” If you ask my opinion, there is only one true source. God Almighty himself! God is the artist who constructed us, and the bible, his divine truths has something to say about who we were made to be. 

After he created man and woman in his own image, God saw all that he had made and it was very good. Genesis 1:27,31. NIV

This is just amazing to think about the next time you look in the mirror and don’t like who you see. Reflecting back at us is the image of God, if we seek to find those aspects of ourselves and not dwell on the parts we find unworthy we can start to come back to our authentic selves. 

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  Psalm 139:14 NIV

The Hebrew translation of “fearfully” is to “inspire awe”. You were created to inspire awe! As you were developing in your mother’s womb God put you together cell by cell with a unique nose, eyes, laugh, personality and genetic makeup that doesn’t match anyone else anywhere in the world. That in and of itself should inspire awe. You are unique and wonderful.  

We know, dear brothers and sisters, that God loves you and has chosen you to be his own people. 1 Thessalonians 1:4 NLT

We are made in his image, made wonderfully and meant to inspire awe but also loved very deeply and chosen. When worldly influences come bombarding us daily with their message of not being tall enough, thin enough, pretty enough, funny or smart enough we can be assured that God loves us exactly how we are. Other translations of this bible passage say that God has His hand on us for something special. Well, you saw the statistics from the Dove Global Survey, if 9 in 10 women disengage from important life activities because of low body self-image than we need to be reminded that God has a purpose for us!  We need reengagement from women back into the homes and society God has called them to. 

In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Romans 12:6-10 NLT

We were all gifted with something special. Embrace and own your gifting for the purpose of bettering other people.  Serving in your giftedness will take your mind off your own suffering and help you gain perspective. 

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good thigs he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2 NLT

If God created us to be a masterpiece and we are more beautiful that any human eye can perceive, why do we doubt our appearances? Why would we want to be any different than we are? You are breathtakingly beautiful, own it, it is your birthright! 

A real woman is a world changer for good. Her courage is telling the truth about herself to others so that others feel blessed by her story. Real women stay relevant through all her life even when youth or worldly beauty are gone. A real woman sees her identity in God her creator and loves herself despite the worlds view of appearance. A real woman is me, it’s you and all the amazing women who embrace their talents, giftedness, intelligence, and kindness for others. 

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