“I don’t like my thighs, my midsection…”
It sounds like a snippet from you and your girlfriends’ weekly body bashing sessions. But this exact quote comes from none other than Scarlett Johansson, and it’s proof that poor body image can affect people of any shape—including, apparently, women who dominate multiple Sexiest Woman Alive lists.
When Barbara Walters recently asked the new mom about her bod with a cult following, Johansson replied, “It’s an okay body, I guess. I wouldn’t say it’s particularly remarkable.”
She’s not the only celeb jumping on the missing-confidence bandwagon: Victoria’s Secret just released a video of one of its models comparing herself (unfavorably) to a fellow catwalker.
If a perennial sex symbol and a top lingerie model can’t see their bodies as beautiful, where does that leave us everyday ladies? And even if they secretly do like their physiques, why is it so socially unacceptable to admit so? (Remember that scene in Mean Girls where the Plastics are dissecting themselves in the mirror, and they pressure Lindsay Lohan to name a feature she dislikes?)
Simply put: Massive companies depend on our self-loathing for financial success (see: diet sodas; appetite suppressants; plastic surgery). Girls of all ages and sizes bond by engaging in what researchers call “fat talk.” (Girl 1: “I’m so fat.” Girl 2: “You’re not fat; I’m fat. My thighs are humongous!”) And in general, a stigma exists against women who appear too confident in themselves; if Scar Jo admitted, “Actually, I do think I have a beautiful body,” the “She’s so full of herself!” backlash would be swift—even though her body is beautiful and she has every right to say so.
One way to break the cycle is to treat yourself with a little empathy. The next time you hear that little inner voice whisper-screaming, “You shouldn’t have eaten that pizza! You’re a pig!” ask yourself, “Would I say this to my mother? My sister? My best friend?” If you wouldn’t call your grandma a pig for enjoying a burger, stop saying it to yourself.
Next, take time to compliment other women. Tell the barista making your latte that you like her earrings, or a fellow work commuter that she has great hair. Or grab a few of these inspiring You Are Beautiful stickers and leave them on a public bathroom mirror or on the elliptical at your gym. Not only will you bump up another woman’s confidence, but you’ll get a boost, too, you sexy thang.