It is very human

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I thought I would have a lot to say today, so I thought I better take some outfit photos. After been trying a couple of photo locations and about 100 photos later I finally got a couple that I thought was blog worthy.

The last days I have been finishing up a discussion of a manuscript I am writing about older person ability to accept their bodily appearance. Although that I don’t want to go into the details about my own findings before it is accepted for publication, and for those that know anything about academia you know that it might take a while (read month or even years), however, I can discuss the things that have been shown and written by others. As my regular readers know, I am an ageing researcher, but given that body satisfaction has not been study very much among elderly, I have been doing a lot of reading about what is known from adolescents and middle-aged persons, and overall this applies for all independent of age. Before I go into detail, I will warn those of you that are looking for a cheerful post and maybe recommend you to scroll down and see where I bought my clothes (if that interest you) or go and make yourself a cup of tea and come back another day.

Study after study shows that the majority of women, but also men, are highly dissatisfied with their bodies. Some researchers have even referred to body dissatisfaction as a normative discontent. Body dissatisfaction is strongly related to self-esteem, psychological difficulties such as depression and anxiety, and unhealthy dieting and eating disorders. One of the things that have affected me the most is that several studies  show that body dissatisfaction predicts depression. In other words, the association between body dissatisfaction and depression do not only stem from reasons such as that depressive persons tend to see themselves and their bodies from a negative point of view (although that is true too), but that how we view our bodies can affect our psychological well-being for many years a head. And of course, persons that were overweight and especially those being obese experienced body dissatisfaction to a higher degree than those being slimmer.

I suppose that most of us would put a huge blame on the media and fashion industry for the pressure to be beautiful and thin. Although I think that media and the fashion industry plays an important role I think that is a too easy explanation. There is something in the human nature that makes us favorite and like people who are beautiful. When I took a psychology course in non-verbal behaviors we learned that we like people with bigger eyes and rounder faces as they reminds us about children, and the fact that most people like children and think they are cute is an adaptive behavior for survival. I know that some readers will now object and claim that beauty ideal changes, and few models today all kind of different shapes of their faces, and more often oval-shaped than round (but maybe most have pretty big eyes?). I agree, but independent of what we consider to be beautiful in different time periods, I think our behavior to give more attention and appreciation to those that are considered to be beautiful remains stable across time.

The list of examples of that beautiful people have advantages in the society range from selection of a mate, jobs, and to shorter penalties. It also seem to start very early in life, and I suppose that most would agree that the most popular boys and girls in school often were the most good-looking ones, even before puberty, and even more so in puberty. A former colleague of mine once claimed that if she had stayed in the small village she came from, she did know how she would have had to marry based on her beauty or non-beauty. A boy who was on the same rating as herself. This was of course not explicitly stated, but something she implicitly understood, and when she became a sociologist could put words on. My point is that there is something that makes us favor those that are considered to be beautiful beyond the message we get from the fashion and beauty industry, something that is inherited in the human nature, and that makes us rank people differently based on appearance. I know I might be provocative, but most of the times this is not done deliberately. However, if you do disagree with me let me ask you if you would hit on a man or woman who you and everyone else consider to be ten times as beautiful as your self, and if you do have the courage, do you actually think you will have a chance? If you do (or have done and been successful) I do congratulate you, but most people do marry a person that is on about the same beauty level (if that can be measured) and a person that has about the same body mass index (which can be measured and objectively evaluated).

Now to another aspect that has fascinated me the last days. To a high degree we do accept that beautiful people have advantages and accept that there is a hierarchy based on beauty. When it come to discrimination of ethnical groups, gender, and even old person there is words (racism, sexism and ageism) to describe the discrimination based on group belonging, and there is laws and regulations, at least in some parts of the world. Of course there is still terrible much to be done when it come to the mentioned -isms but there is at least a public awareness, and to acknowledge that there is a problem is an important step. However, there is no word such as “beautism”, and the fact that beautiful person have advantages in life is seldom discussed. Hence, advantages based on beauty seem to a high extent to be ignored. My point is not that we need to put this on the political agenda, but it rather something has stroke me, and that I think would be interesting to get your opinion about. For example, do you think that “beautism” is seldom discussed because it affects women to a higher degree than men?

I might be wrong, but I think the reasons that we all want to beautiful is not that we want to be beautiful per se, but based on the implicit assumption that if we are considered to be beautiful we will get more attention, appreciation, and love from other persons.

I usually don’t write about very personal things here on the blog and usually don’t bring up all the things I am dissatisfied with on my own body and looks. I will not go into details today either, but if you read between the lines that body dissatisfaction is something that has affected my life, at least periodically, you have read correctly. Being a style blogger posting pictures of myself does not mean that I am immune against body (and appearance) dissatisfaction. Sometimes it might actually be the opposite. For example, being fairly satisfied with a couple of photos out of hundreds does not boost my self-esteem or compare my stats to how many followers some long, slim and more beautiful bloggers with thick long hair have. But most of the days my blog helps me feel beautiful and satisfied with my body, partly thanks to all the lovely comments and friends I have made here at the internet. My blogging definitely also makes me want to put in some extra effort into my appearance, because I might get time to take some outfit photos during the day, and then I don’t want to wear a sloppy outfit.

I don’t know if it is very inappropriate to write this and I might offend someone when I do, but I think most bloggers, including me, do blog for the little extra attention and appreciation we might get. And there is nothing wrong with it – it is very human! I don’t write this as plead that you should tell me how beautiful I am or how well I dress, although I love when you do. But if you do agree with what I have said I would like to encourage you to give appreciation to people who might not get it all the time. Finally, I think it is important to emphasize that I don’t say that we should really on appreciation from others, I do believe that we should strive to find an inner self-esteem, but until we find that self-esteem (which also might fluctuate over time) it does not hurt to get a little help from others. Thank you for reading!

I am linking up to Visible Monday!

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Top – Anthropologie; Cardigan – Saint Tropez; Jeans – Ann Taylor Loft; Boots – Ecco; Statement necklace – Thrifted

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This entry was posted in Body esteem, body image, Body satisfaction and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to It is very human

  1. Sabine says:

    Dear Anna,
    I always appreciate to learn more of your researches. It’s an interesting field concerning each of us. I know bodily dissatisfaction, it affacted my from time to time. Not hurting me now, but of course I sometime ponder about the future and the time when I get older. Mostly I’m satisfied but will that last? Or how can I counteract, againt my thoughts, not against my body. I’m glad you are researching in this field.
    What I really think is that everybody is beautiful, at least in parts. What we should do is to put our focus on the beauty, on ours and on the others. Nearly non of us is completeley beautiful from tip to toe. We should accept our imperfection and be glad about what we have. I know that’s not possible all the time, but bloggings helps a lot.
    Now to your outfit: I love your blouse with the nice small dots and the gathers and how you paired it with the blue cardigan and the pretty necklace. And you found a wonderful background!
    Now I have start to work, although I still have much to say.
    Have a great sunny weekend my dear friend!

    • Four Seasons One Wardrobe says:

      Hi Sabine, thank you for your comments! I agree that everyone is beautiful in different ways, and when you get to know people they might appear even more beautiful as you get to know their inside. Actually, there is research suggesting that when we get older the body satisfaction does not increase, rather remain stable or decrease. One suggested reason is as you mentions, that old people deal with the body changes by changing their thinking, by for example compare themselves to peers instead of young people. Your comments and support on my blog means a lot too me, and boosts my self-esteem!
      Have a great week my friend!

  2. Helene Berube says:

    I have finished reading about your researches but I had to mention that I love the top and the necklace.

  3. gracefully50 says:

    Such an honest post…
    Even if you only found 3 worthy photos, they are very beautiful!
    Have a wonderful weekend!

    • Four Seasons One Wardrobe says:

      Thank you Jeanni! I wished I had a stylist, hair dresser, and photographer to help, because when my face looks ok, then the light might be bad or I forgot to tuck something in or the locker of the necklace shows, etc… The beautiful pictures in the magazines takes a lot of work (as all of us that watch top model knows ;-))

  4. Camla says:

    I relate. My looks are okay in real life but I take horrible pictures and only like about 1 in 100 so 3 is good!

    • Four Seasons One Wardrobe says:

      Hi Camla, I usually comfort myself with that pictures in magazines are taken by professional photographers that know how to makes the model look the best! So neither you or I should be too hard on our selves. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment.

  5. Lisa Walter says:

    Anna,
    I would love to read your research paper once it is published. I think it is a very relevant topic. The elderly population in the US is booming, as you know, I think there will be many mental health issues related to body image and esteem. This is a topic that affects all ages!
    I agree with you that the media is not totally to blame, but they do define the beauty standards and trends.
    I appreciate that you opened up on you blog and shared the personal side of this; and how standards and expectations of beauty, self-acceptance and cultural or societal acceptance and even success affect all of us.

    On a lighter note, I love the colors you paired together today. You do look lovely, as always.

    • Four Seasons One Wardrobe says:

      Dear Lisa, I think an interesting aspect will be when more overweight and obese persons enter late life, persons that might have had low body satisfaction for a main part of their lives, will that affect the prevalence rates of body dissatisfaction in a negative direction? There is also a need for a longitudinal study on this topic, to really understand what happens with increasing age, compared to cross-sectional studies which we base more or less all our current knowledge on. Thank you for commenting and for being a regular follower and blogger friend. Your support means a lot to me!

  6. I’ll admit that at first I just looked at the photos and thought what a wonderful voluptuous shape she has, a perfect hour-glass figure. I then took notice of what you had written. Like you I battle the mirror on a daily basis. I believe that everyone does. Although I do know that we are our own worst enemies. I attempt to look at myself and acknowledge that there is more to me than the eye can see. And that to get to know me is to see my stunning, loving, compassionate heart. That is truly what it’s all about. Maybe one day everyone will be on the same page. I appreciate the time and energy surrounding your paper. Unfortunately it’s all too true. Keep doing what you are doing, you are a lovely curvaceous woman who dresses herself well. xxx

    • Four Seasons One Wardrobe says:

      Thank you Barbara for your sincere comments and for reading my long post! I am actually doing fine most days, but sometimes it comes across to me that our genes are not fair at all. However, I also know that it could be worse, so I am thankful for what I got. I agree, I think that most people get more and more beautiful when you get to know them especially if they are kind and loving persons (and the opposite is also sometimes true). Take care!

  7. I enjoyed reading your scholarly reflections and also your more personal ones, Anna. I do agree there is a bias toward attractive people, and subconsciously or openly, we are interested in having some of that. As you said, it is human. I also enjoy your style and your photos! So thanks again for linking up to Visible Monday.

  8. Suzanne says:

    What an interesting discussion.

    I definately think as a fashion blogger we come to rely a bit too heavily sometimes on affirmation. We want to know that other people approve of us. When I started to fashion blog it was because I wanted to get clients. I wanted to help people find their style. It had nothing to do with me getting readers or comments. That changed over time because I realized that the blogging community was based on comments and that almost everyone that was reading my blog didn’t need my help, they all had their own blogs with their own styles already, and I kind of became a bit addicted to positive comments. I didn’t mean for it to happen…but gradually it did. Some days I wouldn’t get any comments and I thought…I’m not worthy.

    I had a major shift in thinking when my husband was ill recently.

    I decided to pull back on my outfit posts to try to regain some personal perspective.

    I would argue that men on the whole do not have a negative body image, either that or they are almost always looking for someone that is far more beautiful than themselves. I’m sure that we can all think of loads of examples of this phenomenon. I don’t know of you saw that Dove commercial with women describing themselves, almost always as ugly…but I posted on my blog as parody of men describing themselves as super good looking and I can say although it was a parody I think that 85% of that rings true to life. Have you found that in the research that you have been doing?

    I loved that you shared this.

    I read recently another blogger mentioned a story similar to this:

    Think of yourself when you were 15 and all the things you would have said to your 15 year old self, about your appearance, what you worried about, what was important to you. I’m sure you would have been so much kinder to yourself and appreciated everything you had more.

    Now think about yourself when you will be 80 years old and what you would like to tell yourself now, about your appearance, what you are worrying about and what is important to you. I bet it would be the same thing you would tell your 15 year old self.

    bisous
    Suzanne

    • Four Seasons One Wardrobe says:

      Thank you so much Suzanne for you thoughtful comments and sharing what you found on that other blog, it is actually very helpful! I have to say that I also started my blog for similar reasons like you not, not to get customers, but because I thought I had something to share (how to flatter a curvy body). However, like you I found out that the main part of the readers (at those are those that comments) are other bloggers.

      Isn’t it sad that we sometimes need a wake up call as disease or accidents to get perspectives? I hope your husband is better, and will recover!

      I hope you do know that I really enjoy your blog, although I don’t always have time to leave a comment!

      • Four Seasons One Wardrobe says:

        I forgot to say, that men are affected by body satisfaction too, but to a lower extent than women. My guess is though that the pressure on males are increasing too!

      • Suzanne says:

        Yes, it is true and sad that an illness or a death is what will wake us up to our lives. My husband was very lucky, the tumour in his kidney was benign. He had to have part of his kidney out but at least he is now expected to make a complete recovery.

        I hope you touch on this subject more, I find it interesting.

        Also, it’s about time that men had some pressure put on them. : )

      • Four Seasons One Wardrobe says:

        Suzanne, I am glad to hear that your husband is expected complete recovery! I will send good thoughts your way anyway!

        I will for sure return to this subject, if not before, when my research is published and available online. I am also actually very tempted to do some research including style bloggers some time in the future, but that is only dreams so far.

        I agree, it is fair that men have some pressure too! 😉

  9. Anna, first of all, I want you to know that I think you are beautiful from the very blonde hair on your head to the toes on your feet. And, your beauty radiates with every post you share with us.
    I couldn’t agree more with you on some of your findings, I spend hours each week working with young adult women (ages 18-31), where I find that I am constantly reminding them that they are so much more than what the media tells them.
    Keep up the good work, Anna!

    • Four Seasons One Wardrobe says:

      Thank you so much Trina! Your comments really touched my heart! It sound like you have a very interesting and important work! I hope you will share with us at some time what you do, I would love to read about it!

  10. Sarah van Amsterdam says:

    Thank you Anna for a very inspiring post. I think women are much harsher on themselves and each other, and that is such a pity. I do agree with your observation of beauty. After loosing lots of weight I find that I get much more attention then before. It makes me sad actually because I am still the very same person as I was before loosing the weight.
    Getting older sure has it’s positive sides, like carrying less what people say about you. The truth comes much more from inside and from the people who will always love you no matter your shape and age. It is such a relief not spending so much energy in the hope that people would like you.
    It is always a pleasure looking at your photo’s and choice of cloths, we all came in different sizes and shapes. The world would be so boring if everybody looked ‘perfect’.

    • Four Seasons One Wardrobe says:

      Thank you Sarah for sharing your thoughts and experience. I am glad to hear that you have been able to lose weight and to accept your body to a higher extent! I gives me hope! 🙂

  11. Zalina says:

    Thank you for posting such an honest post. I understand what you are saying here. I feel that a lot of times people take for “granted” that their bodies are supposed to look a certain way without “working” at it. The media has influenced how we think we should look which is underweight and all the same. But guess what? Some people are naturally curvy. I am. I have a big butt and thighs. I work out 5 times a week, play tennis and ride my bike to work. Not because I HAVE to but because I want to. Besides keeping me in shape, it lifts my spirits, reminds me that my body is not just for going to work. As kids, we’d play outside on a daily basis and it made us happy. I think as adults, we forget that you still need to “play” or be physically active to maintain a healthy body and mind.

  12. Four Seasons One Wardrobe says:

    Thank you for dropping by and leaving a comment Zalina! I agree, physical exercise has so many positive benefits, not only for your physical health but also for your mental health. I do feel better on the inside when I exercise on a regular basis, too! Unfortunately, I sometimes forget that I do 😉

  13. jangrahammcmillen says:

    Great post, Anna! So glad you wrote to us about your thesis. I’d really love to see it when finished, but I’m guessing you won’t publish in English! Dan, my huz took his degree in Sociology so these ideas are familiar in our house.

    One of the reasons that I guess is part of our lack of social attention to “beautism” within Western culture is that so much of this response is hard-wired. As you know, It isn’t just cultural, it’s in our built-in response to faces and general physical appearance. We translate that in often subtle cultural ways, but it is sometimes painfully and humiliatingly blatant.

    But as one among those aged women, I am surprised that I am as happy with my appearance as I am at this age. I certainly don’t wake up in the morning and marvel at how good I look …not at any time of the day, in fact, but I am not desolated, and I wondered if I might be at this age (63.) Every Monday here at VM we get a set of reality-bites, and a thousand kindnesses that must be fully appreciated in a world that is not always kind to old people.

    Last weekend, at our restaurant, two more-elderly-than-I women were in, picking at their meals, most of which I packed for them to take home. They were both very small, and very, very thin … and the elder was so proud of her somewhat younger friend for being successful on the Weight-Watchers program. I was only a little amazed that she insisted that her friend help me get involved. She was sure I wanted to drop a few pounds. I had to smile when I found I wasn’t insulted … and I might well have been a few years back. I felt okay about her comment, and explained to her that, for once in my life, my weight was just about where I wanted it, and that I felt I looked better with a bit of roundness. She looked at me like I was from outer space,

    It’s too bad that we can’t be a little broader in our ideas about beauty, but there is a growing acceptance of more mature beauty, as you see here among the VM contributors and the broader blogging community. Hope this makes you a little more hopeful.

    You look wonderful, as always. Your taste is excellent, and you are, as always, thoughtful in your style.

    • Four Seasons One Wardrobe says:

      Jan, you are indeed a beautiful woman and I would never had guessed that you are 63 years of age! I loved that you told those women that you is satisfied, maybe it will have a good influence on them! I actually do write most things in English (but I have some proof reading it, which I don’t have here on the blog), so I will let you know when it has been approved for publication and is available on line. I also want you to know that I was inspired by your post with your lovely painting to write a more thoughtful post.

  14. Such a well written post, I have just found your blog, and I have to say it was refreshing to read something thought provoking for a change, rather than just pretty pictures! Don’t forget the aging process is much harder for someone who was once deemed “very” beautiful in their youth, and yes they can have all sorts done. But I feel those such women often find growing old much harder to accept, and can sometimes become bitter because they feel invisible now. It is better for most of us average mortals just to be the best you can, with whatever life has given or thrown at us, laugh your way through life, take every new opportunity open to you, and have FUN instead of constantly worrying about what the mirror say’s! xx

    • Four Seasons One Wardrobe says:

      I think you are right, that it is harder for those that have been considered more beautiful. I also agree that you should have a positive view on life and people that are positive becomes beautiful! Thanks for commenting!

  15. Mrs C says:

    I can’t help it but not being happy with some parts of my body.. I guess I am not strong enough or maybe just being human. I think that just no matter how much I work my arms, they’ll never look toned enough, my thighs too chunky and legs too short.. oh, well, there’s nothing that I can do about it but learn to accept them. With time hopefully..

    GREETINGS FROM DUBAI
    MRS JACK OF ALL TRADES
    http://mrsjackofalltradesdaily.blogspot.ae/

    • Four Seasons One Wardrobe says:

      Mrs C I would love to have your body! Please don’t be so hard on yourself, you are a beautiful woman!

  16. Karen says:

    Terrific observations. Thank you. I’ve never been satisfied with my appearance or with my body. (Well, maybe for brief moments!) The saddest and most maddening thing is this: Now that I am 69, I look back and think how actually quite nice I used to be and wish I’d enjoyed it while I had it! Now, in addition, there is society’s preference for youth to deal with… Karen

    • Four Seasons One Wardrobe says:

      Thank you Karen for commenting! Although I am a little bite younger than you I have had the same experience. Let us promise each other to enjoy what we have here and now, and don’t be so hard on our selves!

      • Karen says:

        That’s why I signed up to read you regularly! You inspire me to accept myself as I am and (I hope) to pull items out of my closet that I love but which I often feel are “too-something-or-other” for me to wear right now, to have more fun and adventure with dressing, despite myself!

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