The Barbie Doll Body Image

“The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn.” Gloria Steinem

Barbie just turned 47. She simply has not aged a bit and she still has that fabulous figure. Get real! We are living in the age of reality TV. Let’s get a dose of reality with our own expectations for our body image. A distorted body image is analogous to being colorblind. If you take a look into the mirror, what do you see? Perhaps forgotten compliments and condescending remarks such as your face is too round or you have an awesome six-pack stomach!  Do you read the latest trends about weight loss and what celebrities do to lose or maintain their beautiful bodies? Do you attempt to incorporate this into your lifestyle? It is simply a waste of your time because no two bodies are alike and will not respond in the same manner to the weight loss.

Who are our role models for having the perfect body?

Over the years women have compared their body types to professional models, actresses, and Miss America pageant contestants. Maybe that is why Cindy Crawford once said, “I don’t even look like Cindy Crawford.” Comparing body types is like saying that you would like for your lovely brown eyes to turn blue. Of course one may purchase colored contact lenses and change the color of their eyes.

However, no matter how much one compares their body types, food intake, and/or exercise regimen to others, their body will not adapt or become their role models. A patient who suffered from an eating disorder once said that she wanted her body to look just like Paris Hilton’s body. The patient’s body was beautifully toned with muscle development due to the years of dancing and her percentage of body fat indicated that she was in a healthy and normal range. Regardless of her nutrition and exercise habits, due to her genetic predispositions and muscular body type she will never have a body like Paris Hilton. Unfortunately, many formal eating disorders or disordered eating actually begins with someone comparing their food intake, body type, or exercise habits to another persons. It is very irrational and one may always become frustrated because they will not be able to adapt to their role models body type.

For example, as girls and women began to age our metabolism slows down about 2 to 3 % every decade but we may not be changing our food intake, exercise regimen, or behaviors. Chronic dieting and restricting leads to a significant weight gain for most individuals. It slows down the metabolic rate and makes one very vulnerable for a significant weight gain. Furthermore, deprivation typically is the number one reason why most people have binge episodes. If you go for a very long period of time and omit some of your favorite foods that can be eaten in moderation such as pizza or chocolate chip cookies you may find that you will began to overeat these foods.

Therefore, the good news for those blues about weight gain is that if we continue to exercise and eat moderately throughout our life span, it is more likely that we will maintain a healthy body weight. Therefore, learning to normalize your dietary intake and exercise regimen is one of the healthiest ways to avoid dramatic weight changes and establish a healthy body image. The first step is to complete your resting metabolic rate test to determine how many calories your body needs to maintain, lose, or gain weight.  It may be important to establish the diagnostic criterion of the difference between a formal eating disorder and disordered eating.