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5 Body Image Flaws That Are Actually Totally Normal

imagine if we obsessed about the things we love about ourselves

How do you torture a woman? […]

You can pry her body away from her mind, or you can pry her mind away from her body […] To pry her body away from her mind, you need to physically humiliate her {…} You can ridicule her body […], you can make her strap her breasts in. You can make her embarrassed about her periods, you can make her frightened of puberty, frightened of sex, frightened of ageing, frightened of eating. You can terrorize her with her own body, and then she will torture herself.

(The Second Coming of Joan of Arc, by Carolyn Gage)

Phew, that was a bit intense…

But the topic of body image and perceived flaws is an intense subject.  Women see between 400 and 600 advertisements every single day. An average seventeen-year-old girl has seen over 250,000 ads. That is 40 to 50 million ads by the age of 60. (About Face, Facts on Media, compiled by Liz Dittrich, PhD, 2002.)

Why does this matter? 

Well, this is a world where eating disorders have risen by 400% since 1970, and, according to an ongoing study funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, 40% of nine and ten-year-old girls have tried to lose weight.

These are heartbreaking statistics.

More importantly, these statistics are our lives. These girls were us, are us, and are being raised by us. It is time we become more aware of the facts regarding our bodies. Instead of trying to eliminate “flaws”, our mindset regarding body image needs to be adjusted.

These “flaws” are normal aspects of the human body. Women are not the only sex to possess many of these features, yet, we are the ones that are constantly, relentlessly told that we are not worthy, beautiful, or adequate if we do. 

This destroys our body image

The Media Lies to Us About Our Body Flaws

magazine media body flaws

More critical than the sheer number of ads we are exposed to is the impact they have and their misrepresentation of reality.

Models are 23% lower weight than the average woman. They spend much of their time performing femininity; focusing on their appearance and undergoing treatments and procedures to alter their natural appearance. 

These women in no way represent reality and often have bad body image themselves.

On top of this, the images we see of models and celebrities are altered further with photo manipulation. 

Even “candid” photos on the red carpet are manipulated; smoothed, tucked, and slimmed. The end result is not even close to reality.

cindy crawford body image flaw cellulite stretchmarks photoshop

What is the impact of this? It is a society of girls and women who are constantly worried about how their bodies measure up. 

In one study, 69% of girls reported that the pictures in magazines determined how they felt their bodies should look like. 

When only 5% of women even possess anything resembling this body type, this leaves a huge gap of women unhappy and with a bad body image.

Anxiety over our body image, our own version of self-torture, is extremely lucrative. 

The diet and weight loss industry alone makes $60 billion per year in America.  Keeping us in constant anxiety over our body image pays off big time for corporate greed.

In more studies, it’s been shown that “nearly all women (85%) and girls (79%) opt out of important life activities – such as trying out for a team or club, and engaging with family or loved ones – when they don’t feel good about the way they look.

Additionally, 7 in 10 girls with low body-esteem (negative body image) say they won’t be assertive in their opinion or stick to their decision if they aren’t happy with the way they look, while 9 out of 10 (87%) women will stop themselves from eating or will otherwise put their health at risk.” (source)

All because we are trying to force our bodies to attain an ideal that doesn’t even exist in real life

The “flaws” that the media covers up and manipulates away from our view are not flaws at all. They never have been.

When we live in a society where shaving commercials show women shaving an already bare leg because we are so afraid of what a real female body looks like, we have some serious mental health and body image issues brewing.

(See also: 7 TED Talks That Spark Confidence and Self Love to Radically Transform Your Life)

body image anxiety

Body Image Flaw #1: Cellulite

One of the most detested yet prevalent of “body flaws” is cellulite.

Upwards of 90% of women have cellulite, yet it is treated as a huge problem that tabloids blast as an embarrassment and pseudo-science tell you is evidence of “toxicity”.

So, what exactly is cellulite?

It’s a secondary sex characteristic for females, just like breasts. It is something that develops during puberty and is not a feature only on overweight women but on mostly every female human being.

cellulite is not a flaw

Cellulite is an $18 billion industry that preys on women’s insecurities about their body image.

This is very smart marketing because if 90% of women have cellulite, then targeting it as a “problem” that needs to be rid of creates a huge money-making niche. This is why you see so many articles, products, and websites devoted to it.

Procedures that promise to get rid of cellulite are temporary at best and at worst, can cause damage and infection.

Hopefully, armed with the facts, you can feel better and spend your money more wisely.

Infographic sources: (source) (source) (source)

Body Flaw #2: Stretchmarks

Almost everyone has them. 

This is a body “flaw” that affects both men and women. 

When the skin is stretched by rapid growth, collagen becomes disrupted and fine lines appear, sometimes dark and purplish, and usually fading to a silvery colour over time. 

Stretchmarks can result from:

– puberty (growing body parts, like breasts)

– weight gain

– pregnancy

bodybuilding/muscle gain

– general growth

– steroid use (including corticosteroid creams)

– certain medical conditions including adrenal related illnesses

There is absolutely no known prevention or treatment of stretch marks.

That’s right, all of those creams and procedures have not been proven to be effective at all, and in some cases have been ruled unsafe and even dangerous such as tretinoin (a known cause of fetus malformations).

Even “natural” products that are supposedly used to prevent stretch marks can cause medical issues. Such is the case with centella asiatica (Gotu Kola).

There is a new trend to glamorize stretch marks as part of the body image positivity movement. 

Saying they are “tiger stripes” or lightning bolts. Even going so far as to colour them in with paint or glitter.

Photo courtesy of Tumblr

The draw of this is obvious. To take a perceived body flaw and turn it into “art”.

However, as long as we are still concerned with our appearance so greatly, as long as we are consumed by our flaws and attempt to make them “pretty”, we are missing the point.

There are so many other things to fill our times with that worrying about completely normal body features. Putting glitter on them is still focusing on them. 

We shouldn’t be so caught up and concerned with physical appearance and body image in the first place. 

Just let them be what they are, signs of growth. Stretch marks — totally normal and as common as mud.

Body Image Flaw #3: Tummy Pooch (Mummy Tummy)

Hey, guess what?

Your abdomen is, among other things, a container for your organs.

Any photos you see of models and celebrities with perfectly flat tummies are guaranteed to be manipulated.

Cinched, flat waists are not normal and when those body images also show these women appearing to be free of their last few ribs, then they are deceptive.

It is very easy to manipulate your own body by angling and posing and sucking in as well. Every single Instagram Fit Girl or whatever they call themselves does this. 

It’s so important for women to see real life represented in the media. The uprising of these “influencers” only causes women to feel like their very normal bodies and tummies are abnormal.

 

Courtesy of Instagram
tummy pooch is normal, not a body flaw #selflove #selfacceptance #body #reallife
My Own Before and After -- It's All in the Angle
tummy pooch is normal, not a body flaw #selflove #selfacceptance #body #reallife
My Own Before and After

Fortunately, a rise of normal folks taking pictures that reveal how easy it is to deceive people on social media has been taking place. However, this isn’t enough.

Women young and old are saturated with “perfect” body images every day, and even if we can rationalize with ourselves that these photos are not reality and these women are not the norm, it still greatly affects how we see ourselves.

One out of 10 girls and women develops disordered eating behaviours.

(anorexia, bulimia, orthorexia, rumination, avoidant). 

Long-term and very serious health consequences result from this, including death.

Cosmetic surgeries are also on the rise, even in populations of women with very normal, average bodies. These include breast implants, collagen injections, and liposuction, among others.

The United States had the highest total number of cosmetic procedures with 4,310,180

In 2010, 29% of Americans surveyed said they would get a tummy tuck to improve body image if money was no issue, while 23% say liposuction.

Risks of these surgeries include bleeding, infection, a fluid collection (also known as a seroma), and contour irregularities and asymmetry.

For more examples of how easy it is to trick-shot your body on Instagram, and how any social media platform you view deserves a critical eye, see these posts: 

10 of The Most Dramatic Instgram “Relaxed vs Posed” Snaps (Hello Giggles)

21 Staged Before and After Selfies That Prove Poses and Angles Are Everything (Pulptastic)

FOLLOW ME on IG

 

Body Image Flaw #4: "Saggy" Breasts

This is a sensitive one.

It is specific to women (although men can be self-conscious over the development of “breasts”  — gynecomastia, of course) and this issue stems from female objectification and over-sexualization.

Like the quote in the opening paragraph of this post, making women feel that they are separate from their bodies, that their bodies are purely for the male gaze and to serve male pleasure, is a deeply harmful element of our culture.

Basically, women are made to feel like their lives begin at 18 and end at age 29

Our culture is alarmingly pedophilic and glorifies youth in women while simultaneously demonizing aging.

As Carrie Fisher said in a famous quote “men don’t age better than women, they’re just allowed to age”.

carrie fisher on body flaws and aging #aging #body #carriefisher #selflove #selfacceptance

As with the other body image “flaws”, photos of breasts are highly altered everywhere you look. We are separated from their natural purpose of nourishing our babies and made into something purely for third-party pleasure.

Anytime a part of our existence is outsourced for creating sales, for the pleasure of men, and to objectify us, we suffer. 

As long as we keep playing to the male gaze by accommodating it and serving it, we will continue to be separated into categories of “worthy” and “unworthy”. These categories are determined by men and the society that strives to use our bodies to sell insecurities — because insecurity and body anxiety create sales.

Let’s stop pandering to it, and free ourselves from being a cog in this wheel.

(See also: Representation of Women in the Media and Why it Matters)

Body Image Flaw #5: Facial Hair

body flaws #facialhair #bodyflaws #selflove #selfacceptance

This one is for all the ladies who were never told just how normal facial hair is on women! 

Not just the peach fuzz that everyone has, but obvious facial hair, and growth that is prickly on the chin or lip.

This type of facial hair growth is extremely common and is a result of fluctuating hormones or sometimes, the overabundance of androgens (typically considered male hormones).

Deep body image shame comes from facial hair growth for women. It is seen as a purely masculine biological trait, and so possessing it is viewed as anti-feminine

Our society puts so much emphasis on performing femininity that not conforming to the standards of what is feminine and what is masculine invites ridicule and shame.

Removing this hair is part of the large amount of work that women must undergo in order to be “acceptably feminine”. 

It is another way that our time and money is taken from bettering ourselves and our lives and placed on superficial appearance driven tasks.

In one study, it was revealed that women with facial hair spend 104 minutes a week managing it. 

Over 65% of the women in the study said they obsessively check their facial hair in mirrors and 75% said they touch their faces constantly to check for hairs.

Furthermore, 40% said they felt that social situations made them feel uncomfortable, and clinical anxiety was a problem for 75% of them.

Even though they reported good quality of life, they gave low scores for relationships and social lives.

This is far too much mental weight and impact for something that so many women experience and should be considered perfectly normal.

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Not Flaws at All

body flaws are normal #friends #selflove #selfacceptance #bodypositivity

Real empowerment is defined as the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights.

None of the new “empowerment” touted by Instagrammers who are paid over $100,000 to post pictures that claim to be “empowered” are promoting anything other than insecurities and a severely altered perception of what real bodies are.

Idealized beauty has become so pervasive in our society that 50% of three- to six-year-old girls are concerned about their weight. How sad is that?

I believe it’s time for a dose of reality and time for a change. How about you?

Fuel your body with nourishing foods, exercise regularly, practice self-care, and leave these ridiculous expectations at the door.

(See also: Self Care: Practices to Reduce Stress, Accomplish Goals, and Benefit Mind & Body)

“Most of us women who survive our own best efforts at self-destruction are pretty miraculous, don’t you think?” 

(The Second Coming of Joan of Arc, by Carolyn Gage)

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Let That Sh*t Go!
F*ck Perfect Bracelet
Affirmators! 50 Affirmation Cards to Help You Help Yourself – without the Self-Helpy-Ness!
Way of Will Soul Soak Bath Soak Set
Self Care Throw Blanket
Good Things Take Time: Self Care Journal for Women
Keeping it Together 2019: A Self-Care Planner
The Miracle Morning
Life Is Tough But So Are You: Mood Calendar & Self Care Planner For Depression, Anxiety and Anger Management
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Jennifer
Guest

Oh my gosh! There’s so much to say about every one of these “flaws” and your repose to them…LOVE IT ALL so much! Over the years I’ve been watching less T.V. and reading more books. What I’ve noticed about that is I’m not directed on how to feel about myself through images and commercials. I quite like it! I’m trying so hard to be intentional about what my daughter sees as she’s developing ideas about body image. Thank you so much for putting this post together. I fully agree with you that the need to cover or fix our “flaws”… Read more »

Jasmine
Guest

I love this post and your perspective. For me, I actually don’t have cellulite or stretch marks. people dont believe it, but it’s true. I do have a mummy tummy though. … it’s there, and sucking in my gut takes too much effort. People need to realize that all bodies are different, and not to take social media so seriously.

Mama Writes Reviews
Guest

Honestly, I’ve never understood why everyone thinks these “flaws” are so bad. It’s just all a part of being a human… a FEMALE human. I get so irritated at the health and beauty industry and the weight loss industry. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to look good as long as it’s for YOU, not for ANYONE ELSE. Grrrrrr.

I have stretch marks. I carried two little boys inside me. I’m proud of them. I don’t feel the need to flaunt them, but they’re a part of me now.

Brittany
Guest
Brittany

Wow! Thank you so much for sharing. I think we all lose sight of what is real and what isn’t and what is normal and what is unrealistic. I know I have suffered from negative self image in the past and still don’t love every part of my body today but when I look at my little cousins and my baby sister I think they are perfect and beautiful and want them to feel so comfortable in their own skin!

Amy @ Orison Orchards
Guest

I could not love this post more!!! Thank you for bringing all of this to light! I find the thing that helps me most is to be grateful for my glorious body that creates and bears children, that works hard to create beauty in my surroundings, that learns and things and teaches and runs and plays. What a gift!

Jalisa
Guest
Jalisa

Stretch marks actually don’t bother me much. I’ve definitely embraced them more than I would have if I was the younger version of myself

Colleen
Guest

OH MY GOODNESS! Thank you for including the before/after photoshopped image at the top — it’s insane that we think that’s the normal state of the body! Every single young woman in the world needs to read this post and understand that we are being lied to!

Jaclyn
Guest

It is interesting to hear the science behind our bodies. My daughter is about to enter her teen years and this would be helpful information!

kelly
Guest

It is so sad how much young girls and women think that what they see in magazines is normal. This is a fabulous article! Thank yu so much for sharing! I did not know about many of the statistics you provided!

Tinashe Jaricha
Guest

Wow thank you for this article. The stats are just so astounding. I was just looking at my mummy tummy and how it’s got to go and just finished shaving my facial hair, then l read this article. Thank you for highlighting the normalcy of it all.

Sarah
Guest

I’m trying to embrace things I dont love about my body and appreciate clothing companies that show real women!

Krissy
Guest

This is truly an amazing article! The “standards” of beauty have gotten out of control! Body positivity is a wonderful message, (and one that nearly every living girl needs to see). Thanks for sharing 🙂

Sydney
Guest

This is powerful!! Thank you for writing this!!

ShootingStarsMag
Guest

Wonderful post. It’s true that women are often seeing flaws in themselves when it’s actually really normal. It’s easy to feel like you’re the “odd” one though. And it’s happening to boys too, just in different ways.

-Lauren

Kristin
Guest

There are so many different “flaws” that people focus on, instead of focusing on being healthy. I am guilty of it too, but health is what matters – not stretch marks or saggy breasts.

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