Body Envy: How to Fight the Urge

Debra Messing looks fantastic! I envy her for it.

I was happily watching my new guilty pleasure—the TV show "Smash"—watching Debra Messing succumb to a passionate embrace with the wrong man.  It was a juicy scene, but I wasn't focused on the kissing. I wasn't even focused on the hot, half-naked guy she was rolling around with.  Nope, I was focused on her scantily clad body.  We're close to each other in age and, damn, she looked good. Instant body envy.  My brain started asking questions: I wonder how much cardio she does? I bet she doesn't eat ... plus she's rich, she's got trainers, hmph ... These days I'm actually pretty happy with my body. I'm in my skinny jeans, liking my arm tone, all that good stuff.  But, I still had a massive attack of body envy watching the show.  Sigh. Clearly the fitness industry is aware of this.  I Googled "body envy" and got back a Body Envy bootcamp, Body Envy personal training, and, for those who don't want to do any actual work, a Body Envy body wrap (just wrap yourself up in our heated blanket and sweat yourself thin!).  Again, I sigh. So I'm back to asking questions: why do I get hit with these waves of insecurity?  Let's face it, that's what they are.  I start by feeling inferior to whomever based solely on physical appearance (why do I do that?) and then I rationalize it out that I don't have their resources, so really I'm better than them (why do I do that?!!). Maybe this is all because I'm turning 45 ... tomorrow. Another 40-something, Ashley Judd, recently jabbed at the media for judging her appearance.  She had been ill and on steroids and had slacked off on working out (probably because she felt like crap) and had been criticized for her less-than-svelte appearance.  In her rather spectacularly awesome diatribe, she said she was as guilty as the next person, often reacting to a media story about a plump celebrity or even judging a photo herself without needing to be prompted. Ashley, I can relate.  And probably every other reader that sees this post is nodding their heads too.  So how do we stop this? It comes down to self-love, doesn't it?  Positive self-esteem will go a long way to stomping out bad hair days or fat jean days.  But we need to reach out to each other too.  Be generous with compliments to our loved ones, let them know we love them for who they are not how they appear.  It's more than just a beautiful smile, it's for their smarts, their cleverness, their warm hearts, their dexterous fingers.  We are so much more than our outer layer. We need to spend less time worrying about that and more time just enjoying each other's company. Have you caught yourself in a fit of body envy?  What did you do to stop the negativity?  How did you turn it around?  I'd love to know.  Here's some more ideas on how to turn body envy into body confidence. Cheers, Lisa

About Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson here. I've been a personal trainer since 1997, a Pilates instructor since 1998 and the owner of Modern Pilates since 1999. I'm hoping to give you some good ideas to get or stay in shape with a healthy dose of humor and reality. Thanks for joining me.

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11 Responses to Body Envy: How to Fight the Urge

  1. Staci May 1, 2012 at 8:41 am # you’re turning 45? damn, woman! you look good! (feel better? you should)

    i’m insanely guilty of body envy. i check out women far more than men just because i wonder all the same things you do. ‘how did she get her legs to look like that? i wish mine did.’ and, etc.

    i am doing everything i can to focus on what i’ve been given and embracing it. no, i’m not going to stop working as hard as i do and being a food nut (enjoying the ssos by the way), but i’m really working hard to stop obsessing. its just not healthy.

    i also find when i stop looking at other people, i worry less about myself. or rather, i think better of myself so yeah, that’s what i’m working on now.

    happy birthday to one special lady!!

  2. Lisa Johnson May 1, 2012 at 3:58 pm #

    Thanks Staci! That just totally made my last day on earth as a 44 year old day! LOL … :-) And it sounds like you’re doing just fine.


  3. Lorraine Mulligan Ryan May 1, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

    Happy birthday, Lisa.

    Debra has nothing on you.

    45, BTW is a piece of cake. Well, have a piece of cake and enjoy yourself! You’ve done amazing work this year, and inspired and entertained so many people through your various endeavors. Celebrate!!


    PS, since you’re over that whole Debra Messing comparison thing, I can mention that she bares all in the May issue of Allure. I’ve seen the previews and she does look pretty amazing. More power to her.

  4. Lisa Johnson May 1, 2012 at 9:23 pm #

    ooh really!!?? Send me the photos! LOL … Lorraine thanks so much for the very kind words. :-)

  5. Daniella Mancini May 3, 2012 at 8:38 am #

    You all know it’s air-brushing/photo shop/retouching/special effects, etc… yes?! I hope you don’t think someone in a ‘magazine’ looks that way in real life, get real. My Mom use to work on them, trust me, 99.9% of them look nothing like that. It’s fantasy, nothing more.

    Allure, lol, I won’t say anything more.

    Happy Belated Lisa :)

  6. Jessica Sanders May 3, 2012 at 12:15 pm #

    I could not agree more!! No matter how happy with my body I am at any time, I am always struck with terrible body envy. I started reciting this mantra when it happens, I say to myself, “There’s no comparison.” I’ll say it a few times – because I Have to remind myself that no matter what they look like you just don’t know their life. I have a great life, an amazing significant other and a healthy body. There’s no comparison, there’s no comparison! Try it, or think of a mantra that works for you and see if it helps!

  7. Lisa Johnson May 5, 2012 at 12:21 pm #

    Hi Daniella, thanks for adding your comment. Yes. I’m very aware that it’s a lot of photoshopping on top of makeup, good lighting, and a bunch of other tricks. I do wonder what you Mom does :-) L–

  8. Lisa Johnson May 5, 2012 at 12:22 pm #

    Jessica I love your mantra! And you’re so right, there is no comparison.

  9. Daniella Mancini May 13, 2012 at 2:46 am #

    Well, she’s gone now, hence the reason for saying ‘use to’, she was a photo retoucher. If you saw the before pictures, she could take them home to work on them, if it was an ’emergency’, you would freak out, but the after pictures were gorgeous. She would spend hours, literally, making waists thinner, moles/acne/wrinkles disappear, it’s just such a phony world, it really bothered me to see them in person, not recognise them, most of the time, then they appear on some cover and were instantly ‘hot’, lol.

    What bothers me is how women ‘think’ they look like this, when the reality of it is so far from the truth. Men know the difference more then women, which I suppose is your point of ‘body envy’. It’s much easier today with photo shop, to do what my Mom use to do, but there you have it, that’s what she did.

    I hated going to the studios with her since ‘anyone’ we came across would always tell her to get me into acting or modeling, lol, yeah, like I’d go for it, no way was I going to be a party to any of that life style.

  10. Lisa Johnson May 13, 2012 at 9:45 am #

    Daniella, it sounds like your Mom raised you with a lot of strength and you got to know about a secret that a lot of people don’t learn about until much later. Probably was great for your body image! I do know enough photoshop to be dangerous and once you learn the tricks they’re easy to spot in magazines, etc. Thanks for telling us a bit more of your story. Today is Mother’s Day, so I’m sending a little Happy Mother’s Day wish to your Mom’s memory. Peace. L–

  11. Daniella Mancini May 18, 2012 at 3:18 am #

    Awww, thank you sweetie for sending her Mother’s day wishes. That was very kind of you :) Glad you know about all the ‘tricks’ of the trade.

    Hugs and love, xoxo

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