save money with body positivity
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Save Money with Body Positivity

Psst, I make money on some of the links in this post at no cost to you. It keeps the lights on around here.

Today Im writing about something that can be a little uncomfortable to talk about. I was hesitant to write about body image, since its so personal, but I know its something that weighs heavily on many peoples minds. I think its important to address body image from a personal finance perspective. Its also important to explore how your mental state can affect financial performance.

This blog focuses on womens body image issues. I know fellas struggle with body image just as much as us ladies. But since Im not a fella, I only felt that I could write about the female perspective. I would love to hear from our male readers about their body image journeys, and I would definitely welcome a guest blog on the subject.

I looked in the mirror and sighed.

I just wasn’t happy with myself. My arms were jiggly. My thighs were crinkled. Silver stretch marks decorated my hips.

These are thoughts that plagued me for years.

But what’s scary is that these thoughts weren’t uncommon at all. A recent study found that 80% of women are unhappy with their appearance.

I was no different from that 80% of women. I created a prison in my own body. It was my own unhappiness, day in and day out, that led to an overall dissatisfaction with myself and the body I lived in.

It had to stop.

Learning Body Positivity

I was sick of feeling upset with myself for no reason. I exercised almost every day and was eating healthier meals. If anything, I deserved a gold medal—I went from professional couch potato to living like a marathon trainer!

But there I was, scrutinizing stretch marks in my bathroom.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m a big proponent of body positivity. I was even a body image counselor in college! But as I was counseling others about self love, I was still self-conscious about my own appearance.

I bought so many products to “fix” these myriad “problems,” which really added up.

Let’s do some math to see the financial damage of my insecurities.

Here are just a few of the products I bought to look like a Photoshopped goddess:

  • A body brush: $7
  • Proactiv system: $50
  • Special face wax: $15
  • Mederma Stretch Mark Cream: $30
  • Tanning spray for my lily white legs: $10

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Just this sample of items adds up to a whopping $112!

I could have put that $112 into an emergency fund that I so desperately needed. Or towards a principal payment on my car loan. Or towards retirement.

And if I had to guess, I’d say the true cost of all these purchases adds up to much, much more than $112.

My insecurities were causing me to be dissatisfied with a perfectly wonderful and blessed life. I wasn’t content with my life because I didn’t look like a model. And that wasn’t right.

Where Does This Lack of Self-Love Come From?

We live in a culture with rampant advertising. All we see are beautiful, shiny, perfect people on TV, social media, magazines, and ads.

This imagery is pervasive. You can’t escape the pictures of beautiful people being burned into your eyelids. The mall, billboards, popup ads, TV, Instagram—it’s everywhere. It’s a slow and menacing suggestion that you are not good enough. You need to change.

And Proactiv/Garnier/Venus/Sally Hansen can help you get there!

Companies profit from our insecurities. After all, if you’re perfectly satisfied with your body, why would you need to buy leg wax? The big companies need to keep us under lock and key—and in our own minds, no less, at zero charge.

I’m challenging myself to love myself more (like my ego needs more stroking!).

I’ve made the decision to only allow positive things in my life, because there are so many bad things in the world. Why contribute to my own unhappiness?

The Bottom Line

Instead of pointing at myself in the mirror and recognizing flaws, I stop for a moment of reflection. I tell myself how freaking nice I am as a person (…most of the time, at least). I tell myself how proud I am that I can do ten pushups with my arms—back in March I wasn’t able to do any pushups. I tell myself how wonderful it is that my legs carry me everywhere I need to go. I am powerful, I am kind, I am smart, and I am proud of myself.

That doesn’t come in a bottle, either, and it’s free.

We want to know: What’s your body positivity story?

I am not a mental health professional or a doctor. This blog is not a replacement for treatment and is not intended as advice. This blog is not liable for damages caused by this content. If you are having thoughts of self-harm or need someone to talk to, please reach out to a licensed local counselor or call the 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

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8 comments on “Save Money with Body Positivity

  1. This is a tough one and a fine line for me. I really just do enjoy looking nice and I love the reaction I get from husband (who for some reason thinks I’m awesome looking lol). I do spend money on tanning lotion for my painfully white legs and I definitely do wax, but I also have the money in my budget because I cut elsewhere. I don’t know if I’m being vain but I agree that we all need to put the photo shopped filtered images in perspective and not judge ourselves because of them. If we are focusing on being healthy and looking OUR own best and not someone else’s thats a good balance.

  2. It’s all about what makes you feel good, not perfect. I had some vein work done on my legs a few years ago that was a little pricey — but it bothered me since I was a teenager. Other than that I focus daily on keeping my weight down which is very important to me. Partly for vanity but also because I believe being slim is the ticket to needing less professional care when you’re old (if you don’t have other chronic disease).

    I would buy Proactiv in a heartbeat if I needed it. It looks like a great product. (Although the more time we spend away from TV the less I’m familiar with any beauty products.)

  3. Thank you for proposing a challenging topic!

    American women (and perhaps others cultures?) are taught to compartmentalize themselves and divided their bodies when they look at themselves. Men are not.

    Thus, women focus on jiggly arms and stretch marks and nose shape, and see the marketing and products to address each one individually, rather than looking at the whole person as men do.

    Be aware of that when looking at and talking about yourself, and about other women. Consider what is worth battling over and what isn’t.

    I don’t think a person can be beautiful without being happy, as babies and children are happy and accept themselves as they are until someone tells them otherwise.

  4. Yes, this is a hard topic to discuss. : ( I wish I felt better about my body, but as soon as I’m done with my “monthly cycle”, I’m going to try riding my bike again for exercise with tights on this time. I’m praying I do not get saddle sores this time around. It’s hard exercising for free because everything hurts after your first time doing it, I find. : ( Gyms are so much better, imo. But I hate having to pay for them. . _.

    What really stresses me out about being a women is that are clothing sizes are represented by a number, not inches like men’s clothes are. I know the number doesn’t matter, but it matters to me because I am basically “kicked out” of a stores because my pant size isn’t available to try on. I practically order my clothes online now because of this and I am only a size 18. I don’t look fat irl, but I feel heavy. : ( But when I look at myself in the mirror, I do not see myself too big at all. Well… maybe my thighs and love handles, but that is it. I feel pretty gosh darn it. > .<;;;

    So I just try to live my life a frugally as possible (doing a no spend month this month ^^) and not try to focus on my body too much. I'm also trying to eat healthy as well each day, but some junk always seems to sneak into my diet because it is laying around and I have no will power… Dx But I never give up on trying to healthy which I find is a good thing. <3

    1. It can be so challenging to love yourself, especially when stores make it difficult just to buy pants! Don’t be too hard on yourself. 🙂

  5. Great topic! It can be very easy to fall into the vanity trap. My stomach looks different after having my son. I have some laugh lines. I have some tanning marks from being out in the sun when I was younger. Yeesh. If I allow myself, I’m sure I could create a laundry list of things I should be upset about. Instead, I try very hard to redirect my thoughts if I have a negative image moment. Instead of being upset that my stomach looks different, I remind myself how lucky I was to have an easy pregnancy. Or if my thighs look a little thick, I remind myself that those thick thighs allow me to run half marathons.

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