Body Image & Inner Dialog
Women, you are uniquely beautiful! Yes, each of you possess an internal and external beauty that is unique to you. In addition, you play many roles in your personal and professional life; as mothers, wives, teachers, entrepreneurs, friends, daughters, sisters…you do a lot in this world!
As a modern woman, I/we want to accomplish so much, and it’s wonderful if we are fulfilled, but if we are not, we very often find ourselves criticizing and comparing ourselves to a standard that feels sometimes unattainable.
I speak from experience; a feeling that I was not enough, beautiful enough, fit enough, talented enough, was part of my internal conversation for so long. Why is it difficult to accept myself, I would ask, when is it ever going to be good enough?
I invite you to find yourself in this even if the details might be different, we will explore a few ideas and I will offer you some suggestions that helped me come to a better relationship with my body image and mindset.
From Dissatisfaction to Personal Satisfaction
Have you ever realized that when you begin to see your physical or mental flaws you enter a prison of self-sabotage? Even the most physically beautiful do; indeed, I have often found that the women I thought to be the most beautiful physically had a poor opinion of their beauty and easily denied any compliments coming their way. I found that very intriguing when I was younger; now I understand that physical beauty does not equate with self-confidence nor self-love.
External influences can play a big role in the image we see of ourselves. There have always been fads about physical appearance. Periods where the lean or more voluptuous icons took turns invading our body image standards and commanding the mold for physical beauty.
Beauty standards also vary between different cultures and centuries; for example, being voluptuous is/was considered very attractive and being too thin is/was seen as being poor and/or sick.
Unlike the world of fashion, which for decades, paraded slender and sometimes too thin women as the most beautiful. How ironic, isn’t it? Hollywood also offered us different beauty icons in the spotlight over time too; during the 1960s with Twiggy, the 1950s with Marilyn Monroe and now a variety, ranging from Kim Kardashian to Arianna Grande. It seems that beauty is and always will be subjective.
Growing up in the time of Super Models, I was very influenced by the standard they set for body image. When Kate Moss and others became my fashion idols, I wanted to be like them. I struggled with eating disorders that manifested as anorexia nervosa at 15. Although the manifestation phase of my ED lasted a couple of years, the impact it had on my body image and relationship with food and exercise took many more years to heal.
I discovered in my early 30s while studying Ayurveda that, according to my dosha and morphology,I was still a few pounds under my healthy weight. I realized that my reference and mindset were still using the model mold as my standards, and I was not alone, It was quite common in my circle. What made me realize that I was not alone was when I brought it to the light. What I mean by that is when I began to talk about it with other people. In my quest to open up about my own struggles, I have also met others who suffer from body dysmorphia, both women and men. I then started to look for role models who were living in a healthy body and had a more loving relationship with their body image.
Diet/Fitness culture and the idea of perfect bodies play a big part in our relationships with our body image. We follow the media with its fashions, magazines and filtered pictures on social media that are not always based on a healthy mindset. In Ayurveda we explore beauty as a healthy three-dimensional body, meaning physical, mental and spiritual. On that note, I now invite you to know your body type and discover the freedom it can be to live in your body.
All Body Types Are Beautiful
The three morphological types are, the ectomorph (svelte), the mesomorph (athletic) and the endomorph (voluptuous). In Ayurveda, these three physical forms are found, respectively in the three Doshas, called Vata, Pitta and Kapha. What is fascinating to me about body types is that it doesn’t matter which you are if you look at them without any preconception of having to fit society’s mold, each body type has their internal and external beauty. The important thing is to be healthy. I also mean be at a healthy weight, neither under nor over, because over time weight problems lead to disease. Here is some information to explore the three body types.
Note that you can be a variation of two body types. You can also do the Dosha quizz to see your results.
Kapha – The Endomorph (Voluptuous body type)
Your skin is thick and your bones are wide. You have good nails and hair.
You gain weight easily and it’s harder for you to lose weight.
Strengths: Resilience. Fewer wrinkles and supple, naturally hydrated skin.
Weaknesses: Attachment to your bad habits. This may cause you to stagnate.
• Eat two healthy meals a day, brunch and dinner, or 4 small meals.
• Choose light foods and avoid sweets.
• Activate your lymph and blood circulation daily with a dry brush.
• Do physical activities daily such as hot yoga, Zumba, weight training, etc.
• Get up early and start the day with a physical activity (even if only walking).
• Try to avoid eating after dinner.
• Learn to channel your emotions without food. Try art, dancing, writing, meditating, etc.
Affirmation 1: I can do this.
Affirmation 2: I like myself the way I am.
Pitta – The Mesomorph (Athletic body type)
You gain muscle mass easily. A few pounds of weight gain or loss is easily manageable.
Average stature, average skin, average bones, and good tone.
Strengths: You are made strong with a digestive fire and a fast metabolism.
Weaknesses: You don’t know your limits and are prone to overthink and overdo.
• Eat 3 meals a day.
• Eat your meals in a beautiful and relaxing atmosphere; avoid technology distractions!
• Prioritize green vegetables and complete proteins. Incorporate refreshing herbs such as mint, coriander, and cumin to aid your fiery digestion.
• Do activities that make you happy; take time to have fun!
• Cut down on mental work at night and try to be in bed around 10:00 PM. Good sleep is the best beauty advice for you.
• Massage your skin with coconut oil daily.
• Practice compassion for yourself and others.
Affirmation 1: I don’t have to be perfect.
Affirmation 2: I forgive myself and others easily.
Vata – The Ectomorph (Svelte body type)
You are thin by nature and it may be difficult to gain weight even when you try.
Your bones are small, your muscles are thin, and your skin tends to be dry.
Strengths: You move fast. You have a very fast metabolism and are very creative.
Weaknesses: You tend to forget to eat and this affects your nervous system.
• Have a set schedule for your 3 meals a day to avoid skipping meals.
• Do low-intensity activities such as yoga, hiking, and dancing.
• If you are doing strenuous physical activities, be sure to add snacks to your meals and take some recovery time afterwards.
• Eat foods that nourish you. Soups, grains, vegetables, and proteins are best choices.
• Massage yourself with hot sesame oil daily.
• Exfoliate and hydrate your skin.
• Take time to meditate; calm down the mind and get plenty of rest.
Affirmation 1: I am enough.
Affirmation 2: I trust myself and life.
Some Exercises in Body Appreciation to Get You All Started
Exercise 1: Identify one physical feature that you like about yourself and highlight it… Without criticism!
Exercise 2: When someone compliments you, accept that compliment happily and with a smile!
Exercise 3: Give sincere compliments to other people… It’s called paying it forward!
Exercise 4: Be proud of your accomplishments, however big or small… celebrate them!
Your body does a lot for you on a daily basis; it deserves your attention, appreciation, and love. Acceptance of ourselves, of both our strengths as well as our weaknesses, can free us from judgement and, in return, radiate inspiring beauty that comes from within.
Know Myself, Accept Myself and Love Myself just as I am!
When I put my well-being first, my inner and outer beauty reflects that.
You are beautiful!!!!
Vanesa Curutchet, ND