Body Envy: How to Fight the Urge

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.