By Michelle Phillips
While it could be from someone outside of ourselves who we allowed to get into our heads, it is more commonly coming from our own minds as part of what is now being thought of as the “comparison trap.” The comparison trap stems from years of programming from a variety of places that might include images we see in the media, our up-bringing, friends or family members, and it is a debilitating need to base our own self-worth on others rather than the strengths within ourselves.
A prime example happened to me the other day when I picked up a woman’s health magazine while in line at the grocery store and on the cover was a famous work out diva in a bikini. Although I had just finished a one hour Pilates class that totally kicked my butt I looked at this cover and said to myself, “I will never look like that no matter how much I try.”
My next thought, which was a bit more comforting was that as a stylist who has worked on thousands of photo shoots I know the truth about what goes into creating the facade of perfection of that “perfect” image. You see the models don’t even look like the images we see in the media. First they go through hours of makeup and hair, get placed under perfect lighting and then the images are digitally enhanced. The same goes for TV and Film. Sadly, not everyone is privy to that emotionally soothing knowledge and it hurts.
On top of that, the exhausting and sometimes depressing images of perfection aren’t just of people, we have perfect images of homes on HGTV, and food on cooking shows, and then we all have those friends who recreate everything they see on TV and magazines which really make us feel inadequate. That constant focus on what we don’t have, or how what we have isn’t as good as someone else’s is negative weight, a weight that is crushing down upon us more each day.
How are we ever going to feel good about our lives, families, jobs, our look or our bodies if we are comparing ourselves to other people?
Recently I had the honor of spending some time on my VividLife Radio Show, The Radiance Factor, with Emme, who is a powerful example of the beauty and strength it takes to rise above this “programming” we are all fighting. You may know her from magazines, as a women’s advocate for positive body image and self esteem, author, and sought after national lecturer or appearances on Oprah, the Today Show, CNN and many more. She did all that and was voted one of People magazines most “beautiful people” and she did all being true to who she is as a “plus-size” model!
Throughout her life and career she has learned many lessons about what beauty should mean to each of us and when it comes down to it, what is truly important and how to focus on that.
Two that really stuck out for me were;
-In the United States the average size for a woman is 14 yet designers create and display clothes for models. Seeing these images of small, perfect women is damaging to our psyches and makes feeling good about ourselves in the clothes that are available to us emotionally difficult. Size does not define you! Rip the tags out! When you see images that are “perfect” remember, they aren’t real! Even supermodels don’t look in person like they do in magazines.
-After being diagnosed in 2008 with Stage 2 Hodgkins disease she had time for deep reflection during chemotherapy and wondered, “Am I happy?” She realized that she wasn’t truly happy and decided to make a change.
Which leads to a question I have for you. If you were suddenly diagnosed with a terrible disease or told that you only had days left here on Earth…would you really focus on how you looked or would you focus on being happy? Why is it that we don’t see the beauty in our lives? Why do we focus on what others have as our point of reference for happiness?
It’s time to stop comparing ourselves to others, let go of labeling ourselves by our size or possessions, and live our lives according to what really matters.
As we part I want to leave you with one thought and that is to start filling your heart and mind with only positive thoughts about ourselves! Write down what is right about you, your life, and how you look. What are your unique gifts and talents! That my friends, is your radiance Factor! Let is shine!
You can listen to the actual radio broadcast with Emme here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/vividliferadio/2013/09/17/super-model-emme-focusing-on-your-pluses