Hands up—who loves their body?
Chances are, just 1 in 10 of you raised your hand.
91% of women are unhappy with their bodies.
Sure, we have our reasons. We’re not the weight we’d like to be, we don’t have perfect, unblemished skin, and no one would splash a picture of us across the front page of a glossy magazine.
But are those reasons good enough to dismiss how we look?
Despite all the “body positive” messages on social media, despite curvy models breaking onto the runway, despite a culture more accepting of physical diversity than ever…
The confidence of the average women has barely shifted.
Body Confidence vs Body Positivity
Body confidence is not the same thing as body positivity.
You can respect and admire curvy girls, call out fat-shaming when you see it, and spread the body positivity message WITHOUT feeling good about your own body.
In many ways, being body positive can HIDE a lack of body confidence.
On the outside, you want the world to know they can’t judge you for your size….
On the inside, you can’t shake the dream of wanting to be thinner.
My Body Confidence Journey
That distinction struck home for me.
I don’t feel judgmental about other people’s bodies, but my own body is a different story.
My body confidence took a major spill at puberty, and I don’t think I ever really recovered that joyful freedom from self-consciousness about my looks.
As a teenager, I felt shamefully heavy. In a class full of outdoorsy, sporty girls, I was the pudgy pale bookworm. I knew something had to change. I “had” to start dieting.
It wasn’t just in my head. My pediatrician had told me that my ideal weight for my height was 135 lbs. I hadn’t been that skinny since junior high.
(Over the next 25 years, I hit my “ideal weight” only twice—both when I was under unbearable stress and couldn’t eat.)
Today, that makes me angry.
I’m angry that the medical community thinks it can prescribe our weight for us.
I’m sure my doctor didn’t think he was doing anything wrong by telling me what I should weigh, but I carried his words with me for the rest of my life.
I never again thought of myself as anything but overweight.
The Lie of BMI
As a college athlete, I took body fat tests and obsessed over BMI.
Despite all the time I put in at the gym, my BMI was borderline. Even at my thinnest, I never managed to get any lower than a BMI of 24.
“Math Guy” Keith Devlin is sickened at the way BMI has defined our conversation about weight.
Devlin is a senior researcher and executive director at Stanford’s H-STAR institute, so he knows his numbers.
He blasts through the mathematical inadequacies of the BMI formula, calling it a “200-year-old hack” that’s “scientifically nonsensical.”
Yet millions of Americans allow their BMI to tell them they’re overweight or obese … even though they’re fit and healthy.
Attractive People Have It Easier
Another blow to body confidence comes from well-meaning attraction experts like Jack Schafer, co-author of The Like Switch: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Influencing, Attracting, and Winning People Over.
With his “Just the facts, ma’am” style of delivery, Schafer doesn’t apologize for telling the “truth” about the financial impact of a woman’s looks.
Yes, research shows that more attractive female servers get higher tips than less attractive servers do…. Servers with larger breasts get higher tips. Servers with blond hair get higher tips. Tips increase as a server’s body size decreases…. That is just the way it is.”
So we should all dye our hair, get boob jobs, and diet if we want to be financially successful?
Just as doctors can’t get out of denying responsibility for the way their labels affect the self-esteem of millions of women…
So experts like Schafer can’t hide behind the implied objectivity of “research” to evade responsibility for the way their words will be taken.
Ironically, Schafer later takes up the bandwagon for attractiveness again, explaining that you’re more likable if you’re physically attractive. He tries to mitigate his statement by saying:
Attractiveness is not ‘absolute.’ You can become more attractive if you are willing to put some effort into achieving such a goal… [A]nyone can increase their attractiveness to others if they maintain good eye contact, act upbeat, dress well, add a dash of color to their wardrobe, and listen well.”
Notice how he didn’t mention big boobs, blond hair, and a slim waist this time … but the elephant in the room is already out.
Experts Can’t Give You Body Confidence, But They Sure Can Take It Away
It’s hard to feel good about your body when experts are constantly warning you about how much is riding on how you look.
Not to mention your love life…
All hinging on the one thing you can’t in many ways control:
The body positivity movement starts with awareness, but it ends when every woman feels confident in her own skin.
Your Brilliance supports every woman’s right to achieve the life of her dreams from the body she’s in.
 The Like Switch (New York: Touchstone, 2015), 47-48
 The Like Switch, 108.