One of the mixed blessings of living in my Southern California beach city is that nearly everyone looks like they jumped off the cover of Shape Magazine or Men’s Fitness. Along the shore where I take my morning constitutional, perfect physiques are everywhere. Playing volleyball in bikinis, running in cropped tees and short shorts, flexing biceps—I mean, they’re everywhere.
And that can be a real downer for an Average Jane like me. Because instead of a six-pack, I have a party pack.
As I schlep and sweat along in my Chico’s Size 2 tracksuit (A Chico’s Size 2 is not like a Real Size 2, by the way. It’s more like a Real Size 12...plus), I try to cheer myself on for doing the exercise, for losing the half-pound that I somehow sandblasted off this week.
But that’s kind of like trying to celebrate having climbed Mount Porcupine when you’re surrounded by the team that just scaled Mount Everest.
I know I’m not the only person whose sense of body self suffers by unrealistic comparisons. Because even if you don’t live by the beach, you’re still exposed to airbrushed images in magazines. And those images have a measurable impact (negative, natch) on body image.
According to studies, the average woman is 5’4” and weighs 140 pounds, while the average American model is 5’11” and weighs 117 pounds. I don’t have to tell you who winds up on the magazine covers. And even those models get airbrushed and touched up to a fare-thee-well.
So if you’re benchmarking your body image against those ideals, fuggedaboutit.
At the moment, I’m just trying to focus on small, attainable goals. Like getting from Chico’s Size 2 to Chico’s Size 1. Or excavating a long-missing muscle that’s been buried somewhere underneath the party pack.
Meanwhile, I’ll try not to let the Bods Beautiful get me down. After all, women like me still have Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty.” Those babies got back.
At last, an advertising image I can identify with. And cling to.