Head Games: The Body Image Trap


Be careful little eyes what you see…
It is hard today to avoid the onslaught to the mind’s eye of images which narrowly define that which is held in high regard. We are a culture saturated in imagery. We lust after that which appeals to our eyes, senses and desires. We fall for the deception of distorted illusions of beauty, health, success. That which your eyes feast on will have much power and influence over your mental psyche.
I want to challenge you to take a good look at what you allow yourself to see, to linger before, to devour mentally.
It has been said a picture is worth a thousand words…
Ponder what your stream of conscience expresses after you look upon images that are held as standards of beauty in our society.
Be honest and just examine, without judgment or conclusion, what your mind fabricates or articulates after you see these images:
*A billboard with models seductively posing and scantily clad.
*An exotic perfume ad
*A Victoria’s Secret model
*Fashion magazine layout
*A beauty Pageant Contestant
*A Fitness Competitor- or model
Note two things:

How you feel and your specific thoughts.
Do you feel good about yourself, better than or less than?
We are secretly addicted to images that wage war with our delicately designed psychological make-up.
So, here are a few suggestions on the journey toward a better body image:
These are just my thoughts from a lifetime of observations and experiences on my own journey.
Regardless of what you say you believe, the best advice I can give you is to avoid women’s magazines altogether or as much as possible. As a former magazine lover and buyer (since Young Miss and before that), I can tell you that after observing my own feelings as I came away from these seemingly innocent, helpful magazines, I found myself feeling “less than”. For years I thought many magazines were “inspiring” until I started to watch my thoughts, and especially emotions after dropping by the magazine stand. Save your money. Be your own best friend and biggest inspiration by not buying into the lies projected from the mass media. Even if it is for a season, or a partial “fast”- I encourage you to try this and see the difference. It helps, honestly. Consider it eye training or deprogramming.
Well, I would say, I do try to avoid most of the fashion images, not all. Let’s face it- a well put together outfit can make a fashionista’s heart skip a beat…just be careful out there. I still grab used mags for art collage and scrapbook/journals. Please note for the record: I am NO Fashionista, ask my daughter. She once plotted to get me on “What Not To Wear”. Sigh. I digress…
Next up don’t fall for the Reality Trainer Trap. This is not reality at all. Become your own Personal Trainer. No-one knows your body as well as you do. Use what you know to lead you to what you need to do. Having been a Personal Trainer for over 25 years gives one lots of insight, and I am telling you the last thing you need is a co-dependent relationship with anyone who you think knows you better than yourself! Of course, there is nothing wrong with getting coaching, instruction and support along the journey, but keep it in perspective. You don’t need Jillian barking obscenities at you to succeed.
You do need a plan of action.
A Journal is your best Training Partner. Record your dreams and goals. It is OK to use images but consider what nurtures your body, mind and soul. Strive to find and explore new images for inspiration which do not set before you unreal expectations. Which leads to my next point to consider:
Do not use a celebrity model or sports icon as your sole focus. I did do this for many years when I kept a training journal for bodybuilding competition and eventually I changed the images in my journal to my own personal pictures or images that served to inspire me without limiting my mental imagery or focusing on a person. 

The important thing is to not get lost in someone else’s image.
Learn to be your own inspiration – There is only one you!
Define who you want to be!
Free yourself from the body image trap by fasting from:

*images that make you feel “less than”

*negative comments from your stream of conscience

*some/most women’s magazines 

Do or you struggle, or have you ever struggled in the past, with body image?
Will you implement any of these tips?

This post is part of the series: 

I feel I need to also make a disclaimer here having been involved for so long in body focused athletic endeavors: I am not saying that we should never be inspired by others, but just to examine ourselves and what it is that is driving us, to see if it is worthy of our focus, attention, and time. Hope this makes sense.

Linking with my Sisters at : Finding Heaven
and Marissa @
Reading List: Cozy Reading Spot

Published by enthusiasticallydawn

Dawn Paoletta is the author of Journaling for Discovery and Delight. Her writing is included in several anthologies and her poems have been included in the Wickford Poetry and Art Exhibit and Books. Dawn is currently working on her next book. Inquiries at dawn.paoletta@gmail.com

3 thoughts on “Head Games: The Body Image Trap

  1. I so agree. The only magazine I purchase now is All You (from WalMart) because I like all of the coupons. Hardly do I see anything there that trips me up. However, if I'm not careful I can be tripped up through social media. I have to keep telling myself that Pinterest isn't often reality. Good reminders here.


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