Today I’m writing about something that can be a little uncomfortable to talk about. I was hesitant to write about body image, since it’s so personal, but I know it’s something that weighs heavily on many people’s minds. I think it’s important to address body image from a personal finance perspective. It’s also important to explore how your mental state can affect financial performance.
This blog focuses on women’s body image issues. I know fellas struggle with body image just as much as us ladies. But since I’m 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
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.