Part 1: Reflections on Body Image – The Media’s Influence on How We View Our Bodies

body-imageIn the United States women learn from an early age to highly value being thin. From TV ads, going to movies and following Hollywood celebrities we buy into the mass belief that if we look like “them” our lives will work. And yet . . . time and time again this has proven to be false. We see it among so many stars who rely on their bodies to make them feel loveable, beautiful and desirable. Because they focused so much on outward appearances, they failed to develop the qualities that make for a happy life. This shows up in the numerous scandals, the multiple divorces, the chaos of so many of their lives. We witness it but somehow we still don’t quite get that being slim does not equal happiness. When we really think about our bodies without the influence of the media we know that bodies come in all shapes and sizes, and women and men of all shapes and sizes are out there adding much to the quality of the world. To judge people by the size and shape of their bodies is ludicrous.

My mother used to tell me a story when I was a little girl about her beautiful cousin. Esther was so very gorgeous. My mother described her with the bluest eyes and the most wonderful arrangement of features. She was pursued by many handsome men and ended up marrying a most desirable suitor. Unfortunately the marriage ended in divorce (which was rare back then). Her husband confided in my mother that because Esther was so lovely, she failed to develop much of a personality. He said that staring at her all day got pretty boring. Esther’s husband learned the hard way that good looks only go so far. Qualities such as kindness, compassion generosity, loyalty and determination make us attractive and successful.

It is not that we should ignore the body. A well-functioning body is basic to our quality of life and is worth its weight in gold. There is a big difference between well-functioning and super skinny. I have found that when we feel good about ourselves, we naturally care for our bodies in a loving and nurturing way.

Stay tuned for more in Parts 2 and 3!

Call to Action

1-Ponder your reaction to wanting to be thin. Does being thinner really mean that you are better or will be more successful? Where did you learn this? See it differently. Call to mind women who are heavier than the norm and are lovely. Think of women whose beauty goes far beyond their appearance. Can you think of women who have successful relationships, great careers, loads of fun, who are not svelte?

2-Take a stand. Yes, it is time to take a stand against media propaganda that has encouraged the belief that beauty means being slim and trim (and often anorexic). It is time for you to make your own definition of beauty and to stop buying into what the media’s message. “I see that the media’s vision of beauty does not encompass the depth and breadth of what is really important”.

3-Make a list. What is real beauty? Is it the light in someone’s eyes, the goodness in someone’s heart? A woman who is so totally in love with herself that it shines right through her heart and soul? And what is really beautiful about you?

Brenda Strausz is a holistic psychologist and coach with practice in Southfield, Michigan. She combines alternative and conventional modalities to guide you to live with more ease, joy and freedom. She strongly believes in the power of love and forgiveness. You can contact her at or from her website

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A Day in the Life of a Minimalist

© Copyright 2011  Allison Stuart Kaplan LLC

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  1. Sandi O says:

    Excellent. Anxious for upcoming episodes.

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