Typing the words, ‘I hate my body shape,’ into Google garners over 31,000,000 results.
That’s more than 31,000,000 results perpetuating negativity toward our bodies.
Where are all the creators of these results coming from?
With so many unique body shapes, it’s a wonder how so many people all reached the same conclusion; proclaiming those all too common words: ‘I hate my body shape.’
The Female Phenomenon
First thing’s first.
It should come as no surprise that the majority of these results come from women.
While recent studies show that men are becoming increasingly vocal about their own insecurities concerning their bodies, women are still much more likely to suffer from negative body image issues.
So, while I’m sure there are results in those 31,000,000 posts that were created by men, and I in no way mean to belittle a man’s struggle, “I hate my body shape,” more often than not, is a phrase said by women.
So how did we get here?
All Shapes and Sizes
According to many sources, one being Motherpedia.com.au, there are eight distinct body shapes.
Shoulders and hips being in proportion with a small, defined waist are what make the hourglass shape so recognizable.
Shoulders and hips being in proportion with a larger waistline characterize the round shape, also known as the apple shape.
When someone has a pear shaped body, their shoulders and waist are smaller than their hips and lower body.
The inverted triangle shape is also known as the swimmer shape. A person’s shoulders are larger than their waist.
The lean rectangle is when a person’s shoulders, hips, and waist are all in proportion and lean.
The rectangle is very similar except it’s not as lean – obviously. There’s also very little definition of the waist.
The petite body shape is mostly characterized by height. A petite person will be short all throughout the torso and legs. They can have any of the aforementioned shapes as well, but focus is mostly on height when distinguishing shape.
Last, but certainly not least, we have the plus size body shape. Usually taller and larger than a size 16, plus size women are very curvy and carry extra weight.
So, there you have it. Eight different body types – all of which force women to type, ‘I hate my body shape’ into Google.
An Apple A Day…
Many of the top hits that come up are posts on message boards. People seeking advice flood these sites hoping to find someone in cyber space that understands them.
Apple shaped bodies seem to get the most hate, by far.
“Can an apple shaped body ever be beautiful?”
“I hate being apple shaped…”
“Calling all apple shaped women to this thread. Show me I’m not alone…”
The very first article that comes up is a post on a blogging platform called LiveJournal.
“When you’re okay with your size, but hate your body shape…”
A user goes on to explain the issues she has when it comes to learning to love her body for what it is. After she describes herself as an “extreme apple,” she goes on to pick apart every detail of her body, from her measurements to her bra size and lack of cleavage.
The conversation that follows in the comments is filled with countless people commiserating and sharing their own stories. One of the only pieces of advice anyone offers is to stop watching television and buying women’s magazines.
This leads me to where I’ve pointed the finger before…
Is It the Media’s Fault?
“Today, the media is a far more powerful influence than ever before, sometimes taking precedence over friends, family, or other real women,” the site explains. “Whereas women used to look at role models who were average-sized, women are now comparing themselves with images (some of which are merely computerized conglomerations of body parts) that are unrealistically thin.”
The former editor of Self magazine, Lucy Danziger , called photoshopping “an industry standard, referring to the practice as making “post-production corrections.”
Using the word corrections implies that there was something wrong in the first place.
BeautyRedefined has coined this phenomenon as ‘the normalization of abnormal.’
“Since we’ll see millions more images of women in media than we’ll ever see face-to-face, those images form a new standard for not just ‘beautiful,’ but also ‘average,’ and ‘healthy’ in our minds,” the site explains. “When women compare themselves to a standard of beautiful, average and healthy that simply doesn’t exist in real life, the battle for healthy body image is already lost.”
There is a light – albeit a dim one – at the end of the photoshopped tunnel.
In order to discourage advertisers from altering images and promoting impossible-to-achieve expectations of body image and proportions, the American Medical Association (AMA) took a stand against Photoshop back in 2011.
They wrote, “Such alterations can contribute to unrealistic expectations of appropriate body image – especially among impressionable children and adolescents.”
An AMA board member cited one advertisement where a model’s waist was so drastically slimmed down, her head appeared to be wider than her waist.
Their policy encourages ad agencies to work with agencies devoted to child and adolescent health in order to improve their guidelines, according to NYDailyNews.
Perhaps it’s changes like these that have made the amount of results on Google for ‘I hate my body shape’ go from 31,000,000 to 30,400,000 just in the time it’s taken me to write this article.
The ‘I Hate My Body Shape’ Consequences
The people that say, “I hate my body shape,” too often don’t realize the damage that kind of mindset causes.
“For the majority of the population, what happens is a preoccupation with diet, low self-esteem, low self-confidence, and never feeling that one’s body is adequate,” writes Tabitha Farrar for Mirror-Mirror.org. “In addition to leading to the development of eating disorders, a poor body image can contribute to depression, anxiety, problems in relationships, the development of substance abuse problems, and consequently various health problems. Poor self-esteem often contributes to problems in relationships, the workplace, and any area in life that requires confidence.”
The third image on the ‘I hate my body shape’ Google search says “Pro-Ana,” meaning pro-anorexia. That is just heartbreaking and scary.
Clicking the ‘News’ tab does nothing but bombard us with food shaming, and diet and exercise plans. I don’t know about you, but if I search, ‘I hate my body shape,’ I’m looking for support, encouragement, and inspiration, not how “Angelina Jolie’s body double went from flab to fab in just FIVE weeks…”
It’s pretty safe to say that the media isn’t doing all it can to promote positive body image. The writers at PsychCentral wisely encourage parents and other authority figures to do more to model healthy self-image and eating habits while also limiting exposure to media.
Turn Hate Into Love
So, searching ‘I hate my body shape’ gets you more than 30,000,000 results.
Searching ‘I love my body shape’ gets a little more than 21,000,000.
It’s time we as a community work on getting that first number down, and that second number way up.
Be mindful of the way you talk about your body, especially when you’re around adolescents.
No one is born hating themselves or their bodies. This is a learned behavior that has to stop being passed down from generation to generation.
We can’t get away from the media, nor can we enact the extreme shift it would take to turn it positive – at least not overnight. What we can do is educate ourselves and our loved ones about the unrealistic standards set by advertisers. We can listen to our bodies and treat them with kindness.
A Call to Arms
Self-love might seem like a stretch to some, but all of us should be striving for self-acceptance at the very least.
Whether you’re some form of triangle, rectangle, or fruit, your body is beautiful in its uniqueness.
Perhaps her majesty Oprah Winfrey said it best.
“Are you ready to stop colluding with a culture that makes so many of us feel physically inadequate? Say goodbye to your inner critic and take this pledge to be kinder to yourself and others.”
“This is a call to arms: a call to be gentle, to be forgiving, to be generous with yourself. The next time you look into the mirror, try to let go of the storyline that says you’re too fat or too sallow, too ashy or too old, your eyes are too small or your nose too big; just look into the mirror and see your face. When the criticism drops away, what you will see then is just you, without judgment, and that is the first step toward transforming your experience of the world.”