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Dieting & exercise

Why do women hate their bodies

(77 Posts)
M0nica Tue 17-Sep-19 19:49:20

Although I had a perfectly ordinary normal childhood I never came across this concept of women hating their bodies until I was in my 30s. I had never heard anyone talk about this and I am not sure I have heard many women talk about it since, just read about it.

I find it completely incomprehensible. Walk around the streets you can see people of all shapes and sizes and all levels of looks. How many of them have perfect figures in every way or perfect faces. None that I know of. Yet they are wandering around in family groups with matchingly ordinary men or with friends or on their own and no-one is reeling with horror at the sight of any of them.

I know my figure isn't perfect, great big navvy's hands - and feet to match. I have never had a waist, my rib cage is on kissing terms with my hip bones. It is in the family, my mother and sister have the same problem. No matter how thin we are the answer to the question 'Does my bum look big in this?' is always yes. As for my face, my lips were (they have thinned down a bit) like two sausages tied at the corners. But it has never bothered me. These are observations not judgments. I also have good eyes, tits and legs, I make the most of my good bits and disguise the worst, but I have never 'hated' my body, not even when I was overweight. I might have wished the excess fat would go, but hate my body or be ashamed of it? what a peculiar idea.

GrannyGravy13 Tue 17-Sep-19 20:23:00

Monica I was a size 6 / 8 until my early 30s. I am short (5'2"), last baby was when I was 36, breastfed for what seemed like forever........consequently boobs never regained shape or size, tummy was never as flat, but hey ho that's life.

Fast forward I am now 62, exercise 6 hours a week, look after GC and big house and I am so unhappy with my body. I feel that it has not kept its end of the bargain i.e. I exercise, eat healthy but I have lumps and bumps appearing overnight.

No one else to blame, I love looking in magazines and seeing beautiful women in beautiful clothes. I just get cross with myself, and I know I judge myself harshly.

EllanVannin Tue 17-Sep-19 20:47:37

I never hate anything about my body as I always think about the poor souls who have cause to such as the lovely Katie Piper who was burned with acid-----still beautiful, but how can anyone imagine how she initially felt when this horrendous crime happened ?
We should be damn thankful we're in one piece whatever shape or size and think of vanity as one of the deadly sins.

Day6 Tue 17-Sep-19 20:50:14

I agree M0nica that this preoccupation with looks is getting out of hand.

I didn't give one thought to my looks when I was a young woman. I ate what I wanted and we didn't see people jogging down streets - the exercise most people got was because they walked more and didn't ride everywhere. Gym culture and health and fitness was never a priority or something people fretted about.

I was lucky to have been considered pretty in my youth (oh how I wish I'd realised at the time!) and even into middle age. I am still not wrinkled, which is amazing but I suspect I have a lot of my Mum's genes. Now the mirror shows my flaws, my excess flesh, the chin that sags, a rounded tummy and my short legs! My hair is no longer white - I hit the dye bottle a while ago because it was just too ageing and I was sick of looking washed out because I am so pale!

I refuse to get worked up about ageing and losing my looks and figure though. Sadly, people close to me have died very young - without ever getting a proper life.

I dare say ageing will bring other problems, so my philosophy is to thank this far from perfect body, with all it's malfunctioning bits that need daily medication, for carrying me this far and allowing me lovely times still, with things to look forward to.

I just cannot get hung up about it. I am overweight now, not by much, so although I am aware of healthy eating and moving as much as possible, I am never going to wear a bikini again, and I just cannot care that much. Friends recently remarked on my clothes, saying how much they liked them, and how well I put things together, so I am getting something right!

There are things far more important than our shape, our looks, etc. I feel sorry for young women today - and men. The pressure to look good is immense - and so wrong.

NanaandGrampy Tue 17-Sep-19 20:55:34

I stopped hating anything about my short, fat, disabled body the day a young friend of my daughter - a beautiful vibrant young mum of 3- was burned in an accident.

Full thickness burns over 3/4 of her body . When I saw her I was stunned that anyone could survive such terrifying injuries .

I NEVER heard that woman say ‘ why me’ , never heard her moan about her situation . Not once.

Not through all the laser surgeries , abrading of burned flesh, the scars...the endless painful constricting scars.

I made a conscious decision if she could live her life , fight every second for normality , that I could get over a fat arse, or lack of a waist !

I was never vain ( thank goodness) but now I live life to the fullest and never give a thought to looks. She proved to me beyond any shadow of a doubt , looks aren’t worth a hill of beans. Heart is what counts.

MamaCaz Tue 17-Sep-19 20:58:48

I was very self conscious about my body as a teenager. Hated what I thought were my 'huge' thighs (which I now realise were fairly normal) and my 'big' bum (also fairly normal I now realize)!
However, I was definitely never pretty, and whenever I come across one of the photos of my teenage self that that I didn't manage to slyly destroy, I still hate my appearance just as much as I did back then.
The only part of my body that I thought was good was my legs, and over the years they have been ruined by varicose veins. Typical!

That's life though, and although the way I see myself can still get me down if I dwell on it (I have my bad days, like most people), I know that there are far worse things that people have to live with.

notentirelyallhere Tue 17-Sep-19 21:06:30

An interesting question, I know what you mean but I wondered what prompted the post, you said you read about women hating their bodies, anywhere especial?

I think you are a little bit older than me. I remember coming across this issue in the book by Susie Orbach, Fat is a Feminist Issue which was published in 1982 (just looked it up, thought it was earlier). Did you read it?

I suppose a short precis of her work is that the media offers us endless photos of slim women, that women overeat to comfort themselves and thus develop bodies that are not slim and feel pressured and unhappy and so turn their disappointment on themselves rather than on the media. A more modern take on this might be that pregnancy and hormonal changes throughout life conspire to change women's shapes and so, once again, we break the standard set by the media.

Of course, those slim women all diet endlessly and are far from happy with their lives! I don't hate my body but I do work at keeping it healthy which has the by-product of meaning I am slim and fit which fits the stereotype! I do hate my features which are Irish and I am embarrassed by my arms which are those of a farmer's wife, because that is my ancestry!

I found this article which has an interesting paragraph at the end about transgender and how women who become men enjoy leaving behind all the mess and fuss of women's bodies. I can kind of understand that as I remember not having periods any longer as a joy! I've been relatively lucky with the menopause and not suffered physically. There you are, that's my twopennyworth!

grapefruitpip Tue 17-Sep-19 21:23:49

Maybe because people, well women really ,on forums like this post absolutely vile things about other women?

kircubbin2000 Tue 17-Sep-19 21:46:10

On my local facebook I'm amazed at the number of pretty young mothers asking for recommendations to get their lips fixed or fillers put in etc. My dils friend who is a dentist is booked up for the botox she also offers.

M0nica Tue 17-Sep-19 21:57:04

notentirelyallthere The reason I asked the question follows on from the thread on Fat shaming and one a few weeks ago on people not recognising themselves in the mirror and complaining because as they got older they acually aged. So many women seem to be sad and depressed, often medically so, because of the hate they have for their bodies. I find it truly baffling, when we are surrounded everywhere we go by people like us.

The Spectator article is a classic example of the almost venomous body self-hate that any newspaper or weekly magazine that takes iself seriously has to publish at regular intervals. I do not think it contains a single sentence that I can relate to in anyway, nor have I ever heard anyone I know express even one of the sentiments it contains.

It is the 'hate' part that I particularly do not understand. I make to pretence, I have always liked to look nice, well dressed well turned out, dressing to flatter my form. I have always looked after myself. In my childhood to dress nicely and look your best was seen as having self respect.

So I am not saying ignore everything let everything go to pieces, but it is the way so many women seem to make themselves so ill because they find their bodies so hateful that I find incomprehensible.

notentirelyallhere Tue 17-Sep-19 22:12:14

Monica I don't understand the hate bit either. Is it the pressure to conform so it's about self esteem? I don't get the impression that women in the rest of Europe feel similar. I've always noticed how happy in their skin young French girls look, also German women.

I didn't see those other threads. I sometimes feel odd in the company of women because so many spend lots of time bothered about ageing, shape, dieting, hairstyle, make up, clothes when as you point out, we're all various shapes and sizes, often for genetic inheritance reasons and who really notices??

I think it's sad, life is for enjoying whatever shape you are, I'm too busy doing things to worry much but I do feel odd for not worrying more. Sorry to present you with an article you hated so much, I thought it was overlong but I did think the point about the masculine body being the 'norm' was an interesting one and also the point about changing gender and how this might feel.

M0nica Tue 17-Sep-19 22:31:28

Well, I confess I love clothes and I am interested in keeping myself looking presentable - providing I do not have to do things that make me suffer - like wear really high heels or clothes that are uncomfortable or I cannot walk in, I am no puritan,

My mother was always stylish, and well dressed and even as a child people would comment to me about this approvingly. She had no illusions about her shape, which wasn't perfect, but just dressed to flatter it, and never really thought about it more than that. As I said I was brought up in a family where this was considered a question of self respect, not self hate.

paddyann Tue 17-Sep-19 23:01:32

I've always had low self esteem ,hence the reason I wear makeup every minute I'm out of bed and spend too much money on clothes and things that I think make me look better.
Of course its down to my image conscious mother who ate her dinner off a tea plate and exercised every morning before her breakfast of half a grapefruit and a (very) small bowl of rice crispies.
When I was 12 I overheard my sister say to mum that I had "legs like treetrunks" looking back at photographs of myself at that age I was a perfectly normal thin ..very thin in the early 60's wee girl .
Mum only had girls and we were labelled ,I was "the one who always has her head stuck in a book " Sometimes I wonder how I would have been if my self esteem hadn't been crushed at an early age ,not just the tree trunk legs ,the family nose,the sticky out bum( mum was a 1920's girl who thought hips and bums should be flat) .When it came to her life after dad died I was the one who looked after her ...such is life .

TerriBull Wed 18-Sep-19 08:01:02

I don't hate my body, but oh I'd just get rid of my bust if I could, it spoils the line of clothing imo. I think I heard Susannah Constantine, similarly afflicted, saying something along the lines of "you can't look cool with a big bust" well not that I expect to look cool in my 60s. I grew up with Twiggy as the female ideal, men of course wouldn't have agreed about that. Go back a decade from the '60s and curves were desirable and again in the 70s, with the advent of Page 3 hmm well I had that sort of figure then without enhancement, but aware sometimes how male eyes would fixate on the bust area, I didn't want that sort of attention at all.
I remained slim before and after children until my mid 40s, when I was diagnosed, like so many women of my age, with underactive thyroid and inspite of Thyroxine, my weight is more than I'd like it to be. I exercise at my gym at least 3 times a week and swim once or twice a week, plus husband and I go for walks together, I know I'm sedentary a lot of the time, I enjoy reading and it's hard to do walking about.

Part of me would like to go under the knife and have my appendages reduced, but my husband would be so against that, plus I do feel in many ways it's wrong to have unnecessary surgery. Women like Katie Price come across as batshit and unhinged to me, I can't imagine why anyone would want to be that false from top to toe in bodily terms. I don't lose sleep over my body, I'm lucky in some respects still have slim legs I've got a defined chin area, my face never got big and fat, a friend of mine has acquired double chins as we've aged, that bugs her. I guess all of us have something we'd change if we could.


Hetty58 Wed 18-Sep-19 08:25:29

Maybe the question should be 'Why are some women so fixated on their bodies?' as men don't usually seem so obsessed with their own looks.

Nobody is 'perfect' at any time so those of us more concerned with our careers, interests, friendships and aims in life are bound to be happier than people who seem to base their whole self-worth on their appearance.

My friend says it's easy for me as I'm naturally confident and good-looking (according to her, whereas I think I'm just ordinary or plain). She constantly frets and spends days exercising, having hair done, legs lasered, eyebrows done etc. etc. and is never happy - it's such a shame!

petunia Wed 18-Sep-19 09:23:20

In my mid sixties now, I know exactly where my poor body image comes from. My late mother. She was tiny in stature and size (she was also a heavy smoker) and obsessed about my weight from when I was aged six or so. My early teenage years were spent fighting off, and frequently loosing her attempts to get me to wear girdles and later panty girdles. And later, professional and academic accomplishments were trivialised yet she felt the need to point out that I was putting on weight.

My own children, as they became teenagers and young adults withdrew from her company as she obsessed with their weight too. Frequent arguments and explanations about how hurtful her comments were were accepted with pursed lips and the next time we met her first words were “you look fat”. Dementia amplified these coments.

For many many years, I believed her and as I got to middle age I was classed as overweight according to my BMI. But at the height of this tirade, I was a slim, healthy looking teenager, probably size 10, and well proportioned and long, shapely legs. Yet over the years I have gained and lost the same couple of stone and spent a fortune on slimming world/weight watchers/gyms etc. not to count the mental torment of it all. I suppose I should be grateful I don't have a full blown eating disorder.

It is sad that most of my life I have carried my mothers opinion with me. . Always thinking I looked HUGE. What is even sadder is that my daughters were exposed to this and watched my own obsessions.

Will I ever accept myself or is that a fantasy?

Willow500 Wed 18-Sep-19 10:09:02

I too don't remember there being so many issues with body dysmorphia when I was younger. I've never hated my body although I have areas I wish were better. Having 2 babies before I was 20 changed my body shape and no matter how big or small I have been over the years I've never got rid of my tummy pouch. I also had my gall bladder out when I was 24 which left a very large unsightly scar so even had I felt confident enough to wear a bikini I couldn't. I lost a lot of weight some years ago and it left my arms with hanging skin - since put most of it back on so they've filled out again but I keep them covered up and try to wear clothes that are the best fit for my shape.

We've always had magazines full of beautiful models but I think social media and the ability to airbrush everything to perfection has a lot to answer for in making young people these days aspire to something impossible to achieve.

Stella14 Wed 18-Sep-19 10:39:07

Women hate their bodies because women’s bodies are being constantly judged. Fat shaming is everywhere and it is damaging, even to a slim woman who does it to others. Slim women become highly critical of their own bodies because they are only too aware how critical society is of women’s bodies.

Dee1012 Wed 18-Sep-19 10:52:26

I 'developed' at a pretty young age, I began to menstruate when I was 10 and by the age of 11/12, I was 5"8 with a 36d bust....I loathed my body at that point.
This was the early 70's and going to a mixed school, I can't even begin to say the comments I received daily from the boy's. Even the journey to school could be horrendous....with a lot of men (no doubt with daughters) feeling they could pass comments or shout sexualised remarks at me.
I would slouch, I recall asking for really tight tops - not to accentuate my chest but to 'hold it in' under my school shirt.
I was a child with a woman's body and I really struggled with that despite having fantastic care and support from my parents.

Gingergirl Wed 18-Sep-19 11:50:24

I don’t think it’s that hard to see why women often hate their bodies. You only have to walk into a clothes shop to see clothes on thin and perfectly proportioned models. If you were to try those clothes on, the chances are they’d look nothing like that on you (unless you too are a real life model). If you go out socially, the emphasis is most often on what the woman wears, rather than the man....the media isn’t keen to have women over ‘a certain age’ on tv if they don’t look the part, and many have lost their jobs for that reason. I could go least in the western developed world, emphasis on female appearance seeps into our culture and our mindsets whether we realise it or not, and is the source of great anxiety and depression amongst many women. Whether it ‘should’ be or not, is quite another issue.

Coconut Wed 18-Sep-19 11:52:34

It’s very sad that in this day and age so many young people have so many hang ups about their bodies, and resort to plastic surgery etc My 2 teenage granddaughters are both natural blonds and “extremely pretty” ... other people’s words, not just mine. I’ve had strangers coming up to them in the street saying how beautiful they are ..... yet still they are filled with self doubt and compare themselves unfavourably to others. I was bought up with a mother telling everyone how lovely and slim my sister is .... and how I’m short and dumpy like her 😏. My sister is a size 8, I’m only a 12, and my mother is a size 18, so personally I can’t see the comparison, but if it makes her feel better then, hey ho ! ..... I’ve always been able to just ignore the comments and rise above them and I hope that my 2 GD’s will gain in confidence themselves too and not be so self critical.

BradfordLass72 Wed 18-Sep-19 12:00:24

'Why do women hate their bodies'?

For the same reason Hitler was able to make a whole nation hate Jews, gay, Polish and Roma people (he called them 'sub-human') and the handicapped, managing to convince so thoroughly that 10 million people were eliminated because they were not his idea of "ideal".

Constant, evil, manipulative programming and brainwashing which works because of a combination of fear, shame and being unable to 'buck the trend' and think for oneself.

We are gulible sheep who fall for every advert, every fashion, every little slogan which tells us we should be or buy a certain thing.
And this includes being ashamed of your body, your conduct as a mother, wife or woman if you don't buy what they're selling.

Cui bono?

Pretty much every diet and pharmaceutical, cosmetic, fashion and food company.

Why else would we entertain the ludicrous concept of 'guilt-free food'?
Or feel we have to 'confess' to eating chocolate?
Or push children into guilt so intense that they kill themselves rather than be overweight?

This is shame speaking - in a very loud voice which drowns out intelligent, reasoned thought.

Who in their right mind (and I use that phrase literally) actually understands that the fashion of dieting is actually, voluntary self-starvation ?

And of course it's spun as 'healthy eating' - the result is still the same.

You have to be very programmed indeed and very ashamed, to systematically try to eliminate your body.

Many psychologists, when trying to undo the appalling damage done by a lifestime of body shaming, now consider dieting as self-harm.

I know for sure and from personal experience of working on a magazine, that diet and pharmaceutical companies not only pay BIG money for regular fat-hatred articles in the media but control magazines by having contracts which force them not to have 'health at any size' type, supportive-of-all-sizes pieces within 6 pages of their invidious advertising.
And they threaten to pull their lucrative advertising accounts if these conditins are flouted.

They managed to get leading Australian editor fired when she dared to defy them and show beautiful Size 18 models in her leading magazine.

The mag I worked for was pushed into bankrupcy by a similar defiance and refusal to accept ads from the major diet companies....who work together with the pharma and cosmetic industries to control the media.

That's why many women hate their bodies MOnica.

humptydumpty Wed 18-Sep-19 12:24:14

In fairness for me, and others I'm sure, it is also a health issue - even though I am easily in the healthy BMI range, I have a thick(!) band of flab around my middle and am very aware that this is an unhealthy state to be in

grapefruitpip Wed 18-Sep-19 12:58:06

The reason I asked the question follows on from the thread on Fat shaming and one a few weeks ago on people not recognising themselves in the mirror and complaining because as they got older they acually aged

I absolutely don't care but isn't this against the rules here?

Phoebes Wed 18-Sep-19 13:01:30

Terribull: I’m 76 and I still look cool! Don’t give up!