What is beauty anyway? Gray hair and all?

Please do not read this post if you feel it will trigger any issues or concerns you may have with eating disorders or body image or body weight. This is a blogpost dedicated to thinking about body image. It brings up questions about eating disorders. This is not a professional opinion but one person’s exploration into body image.

I am wondering if anybody would like to comment on the relationship between body image issues and eating disorders. Over the years, as I have gained a good bit of weight largely due to specific meds and comfort/stress eating, particularly after the birth of my daughter. I am now overweight but have lost about ten pounds since the fall.

I feel at the crux of my comfort/stress eating is a real grappling with media coverage for people (mostly women but maybe not more recently men?) with model figures including actresses/actors in Hollywood. I grew up in my twenties in the 1980s when eating disorders were just becoming much of “a thing.” I feel that I suffer from unrealistic expectations of what beauty is for women especially beauty for women post-menopause with graying hair and changing hormones.

Over the last six months of COVID, I have begun growing out my hair and leaving it to return to gray rather than dyeing and highlighting it. I feel good about embracing my natural beauty and not fretting about my roots showing up every 6 to 8 weeks or so. It is liberating!

Also as a note, it does seem now in my daughter’s generation, that body image issues are being addressed more fairly than in my day. The idea of body shaming and the need to refrain from that is front and center in my daughter’s vocabulary. This is echoed by an openness about gender identity which did not occur in my youth or within my generation growing up.

Although I have never been diagnosed with an eating disorder, I do think I have body image issues. I need to be satisfied with a weight and an image of myself that befits a 57 year-old woman who takes life-sustaining meds associated with weight gain. I need to be OK with the fact that my meds cause weight gain. I need to be OK with the understanding that a model’s weight and a model’s figure is representative of .5 percent (I am guessing) of the population. It is an unrealistic goal to attain. Beauty is found from within rather than on the outside or in tandem to images that have been enhanced to make make-up models have flawless skin and no wrinkles. And so on and so on.

Another component to this puzzle is the role of exercise. I used to “work out” on a much more rigorous schedule than I do now. I find it difficult to motivate myself on a daily basis because for years I took working out as a measure of my success, trying to keep up with that model’s figure. Now I seek to exercise more for health than for vanity but it is still something that alludes me on a regular basis or over an extended period of time.

How do you feel about body image issues? Do you see that as synonymous with eating disorders? Or occurring sometimes simultaneously and sometimes not? What is the role of the media and the role of health leaders and every day people in providing healthy body image thoughts and pictures in the mind?

3 thoughts on “What is beauty anyway? Gray hair and all?

  1. I agree that body image issues seem to be more on the radar now than they used to be, although the pressure to be thin is definitely still there.

    I’ve also gained a lot of weight because of meds, and I think that part of why I was able to accept that was that prior to the current bunch of meds, I lost a lot of weight when I was depressed because I wasn’t eating. I associated weight loss with being mentally unwell.

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  2. I can very much identify and agree with that. For years, I associated being at a “good” weight with being overly pre-occupied with exercise and with my figure and my image. For a while there, I would try to go off meds in order to be at an ideal weight which is just craziness. And craziness is what ensued. The weight gain is a pain but it can be mitigated some but perhaps not all the way. I have gotten to the point where I know I cannot go off the clozapine. It stays. The weight loss is a goal but it is secondary to staying on the meds.

    Thanks for sharing the weight loss associated with depression. I am glad for you that the meds are working I hope very well. I am no stranger to depression given the bipolar. And it feels like the last year has been some sort of bizarre test from the universe to see if people can hold it together mentally. And I don’t mean just the clinically ill — I think the struggle pertains to everyone these days.

    Best to you in the New Year. It’s been nice getting to know you this year. A highlight of a very, very strange year. So thanks.

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  3. Totally feel you here!! Nothing to be ashamed of at all and so brave of you to speak out about it! I think if you know you struggle in this area then there is really no need for a formal diagnosis, what difference does it make? There’s nothing stopping you from working on recovery and changing your mindset for better wellbeing!! If you would like to, feel free to check out my blog? I suffer with anorexia alongside other issues and I have covered eating disorders. I will be uploading a post on body image and dysmorphia in the very near future! https://greetingsmind.wordpress.com/2020/06/07/dear-anorexia/

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