Beauty Redefined Blog

Body Hate Apocalypse 2012: The End of Body Hating As We Know It!



2012 is going to mark the end. The Mayans predicted it thousands of years ago. But rather than Armageddon, we think an epic end of a different kind is right around the corner: The end of body hating as we know it. Body Hate Apocalypse 2012 is ON!  2012 is our year to say goodbye to body hating, self-objectification, body shaming, self-obsession, and resorting to extremes that hurt us physically, emotionally, spiritually, politically and economically (and probably more -allys).

If you’re a longtime friend of Beauty Redefined or a new fan, you should know the four true statements we’ve taken to the streets (literally, through billboards and postcards): You are capable of much more than being looked atYour reflection does not define your worthIf beauty hurts, we’re doing it wrongThere is more to BE than eye candy. We shout these truths from the rooftops because females don’t get to hear these messages very often in the profit-driven media world we’re surrounded by. Lindsay and I are committed to teaching media literacy — the ability to critically understand and analyze the power of inescapable media messages in our lives.  We speak, write, research and do interviews about learning to recognize harmful messages and reject them so we can grasp our beautiful realities, and today is the day we want you to join us in ushering in the Body Hate Apocalypse of 2012.

Every new year, females come up with resolutions that often have a lot to do with how we look and little to do with getting on to real health and happiness.  My New Years’ resolutions used to revolve around clothing sizes, measurements or numbers on the scale, and I don’t think I’m alone in realizing that even if the number got smaller, it had little to do with my actual health or happiness.  I can look back in old journals and see that sometimes I resorted to extremes in eating and exercising to get to that random number I thought would bring with it all the joy I could imagine: “If I can just lose this much weight, I’ll be SO happy!” or “I’ll love myself if I can just lose this many inches.”  But personal experience, academic research and body image advocacy have taught me something very different: An arbitrary number is never the key to happiness, confidence or even health and fitness.  While profit-driven media would have us believe the “Weigh Less, Smile More!!” and “Perfect Your Parts, Perfect Your Life!!” headlines plastered across the globe, those messages rake in billions and get us nowhere closer to body loving happiness.  What research and real-life experience make very clear is that when we can begin to see ourselves for more than our parts and respect our bodies as beautiful gifts that can do amazing things for us and for those around us, we find health, fitness and happiness.

I spend a lot of time writing and researching about the ways media objectifies females and asks us to view ourselves (to self-objectify) as parts to be ogled by those around us, perfected and shaped by surgeons, judged by each other, and constantly in need of repair with the help of makeup, waxing, tanning, bleaching, plucking and posing.  Watch a Blockbuster movie and see how the camera pans up and down the females’ bodies, zooming in on their parts.  Drive past billboards that cut the heads off of women and invite them to give themselves the gift of implants this year – “Do it for YOU!”  You get the idea.  In a media world more powerful than ever before, girls today grow up viewing themselves as parts to be looked at and we spend our lives perfecting those parts and feeling bad when those parts aren’t yet perfect.  Because of that, our New Years’ resolutions often reflect our self-objectifying views that often don’t get us to real health and happiness and don’t last too long (ex: “Fit into my jeans from 2003” or “Lose 20 lbs.”).  Have you ever reached one of those goals and then realized you still weren’t happy with where you were?  It’s because the ideals we see in media and set for ourselves are designed to be unattainable – we’ll work forever trying to reach them but they’re forever out of reach so we’ll spend all our money, time and energy working toward them!

Instead of Photoshopping ourselves out of reality, 2012 is our year to take back beauty for every female that needs to grasp her beautiful reality. These days, when we hear the word “beauty,” it doesn’t feel like a  happy word.  It feels like work.  The youngest of girls on up to the oldest of women often hear the word and immediately think of all the work it’ll take to get there.  But beauty should be a happy, all-encompassing word – it’s something we have and are — not something we have to fight for to never obtain!  When you think of the females you love, you see their beauty for what it is; it is smile lines from years of laughing, scars from playing, freckles from the sun, stretch marks from growing, the list goes on.  The Body Hate Apocalypse is upon us and in this beautiful new year, our resolutions reflect the fact that the end is near – the end of body hate, self-objectification, body shaming, self-obsession and extremes that hurt our bodies, minds, souls, pocketbooks and power.

This year, we challenge you to join Lindsay and I in pledging to fight toward reaching goals that have little to do with the way we look and everything to do with what we can accomplish. We urge you to pledge resolutions that reflect how valuable, capable and powerful you are.  We beg you to join the battlefront and link arms with females around the world to end body hatred and begin a life of loving yourself that will be reflected in your healthy choices and happy smiles.  Here are 15 empowering, achievable goals we came up with, and we’d LOVE for you to either choose a few below or come up with your own and pledge to meet those goals in our comments section below.  We, in turn, promise to do our best to support you, encourage you and cheer you on as we all usher in the Body Hate Apocalypse together.  Are you ready to battle?!

Set a true fitness goal: If you’ve held yourself back from running, biking, swimming, etc., because you felt self-conscious about what to wear, how red your face gets from the workout, sweating in public, (the list goes on), it’s time to set a goal and fight to achieve it!  Make this goal about your abilities and you’ll be much less inclined to care about what you look like doing it. Run a certain distance without stopping. Swim 10 laps faster than ever before. Do a certain number of crunches, push-ups, pull-ups, new dance moves – any fitness achievement measured in actions and not numbers on a scale, measuring tape or clothing tag.

Leave your keys at home: If you drive or take public transportation to work, school, or elsewhere when you could be walking or biking instead, why not give it a try? Increasing activity is a beautiful way to release endorphins to feel happier, get your heart pumping and enjoy the outside world!

Forget your number: If you tend to fixate on your weight, measurements or clothing sizes, pledging to leave those numbers behind is your key to freedom!  Make a goal to stop or limit the number  of times you weigh or measure yourself.  It turns out that when we fixate on arbitrary numbers, that often gets in the way of our health.  Start judging your health through your activity level by setting a fitness goal (see No. 1) instead of a meaningless number, and you’ll get somewhere great!

Can the tan: Studies show the first time you set foot in a tanning bed, you increase your chances of skin cancer by as much as 75%! This stat alone is good enough reason to set a goal to limit the time you spend tanning or stop it entirely. The tan skin ideal is fleeting, leads to other “beauty” problems like wrinkles and skin spots, and is achievable through much less harmful means if it’s a look you just have to have.

Stop negative self-talk: Too many girls and women have a constant script of mean thoughts about themselves running through their minds. Recent studies show us that girls who don’t like their bodies become more sedentary over time and pay less attention to having a healthy diet. If you think you’re gross and worthless, why would you take care of yourself? Set a goal to stop saying negative things about yourself. Start with a day, a week, a month, whatever you can do, and make it a permanent practice!

Think nice thoughts instead: On the flipside of the last study, research has found that girls who respect their bodies are more likely to be physically active and eat healthy. They are less likely to gain unnecessary weight and they make healthy lifestyle choices way into the future.  Since what we THINK about our bodies has a strong connection to how we TREAT our bodies, set a goal to shut out negative thoughts as they come and replace them with positive truths!

Put your $ where your mouth is: Make a goal to only shop at stores that treat females respectfully in their advertising and products.  Speaking up with your pocketbook is one of the most powerful ways you can show retailers what you will and will not put up with.

Speak up: When you see a media message that goes against what you believe about girls and women, let your voice be heard. Make a resolution to write to companies that produce and distribute offensive messages, as well as those that you appreciate for showing females as valuable for more than being looked at. This year, we’ve seen major companies pull advertising and products that were offensive because girls and women speak up!  Let this be the year you let your voice be heard.

Go on a media fast: Choose a day, a week, a month or longer to steer clear of as much media as you can. That way, you can see how your life is different without all those messages and images, and when you return to viewing and reading popular media, you will be more sensitive to the messages that hurt you and those that are unrealistic.

Just say “no”: Set a goal to cancel out any media choices you view or read that tell you lies about what it means to be a female. You’ll thank yourself!

Picture perfect: If you are a photographer or like to take pictures, set a goal to steer clear of any Photoshopping or image manipulation that Photoshops those in your pictures out of reality. Signs of life are important and we need to see reality!

Mother knows best: If you are a mother, set a goal to never speak negatively about your appearance in front of your children — especially daughters. Your kids are listening whether you like it or not, and they will learn how to view themselves from your example.

Mirror, mirror: Critically analyze how much time you spend in front of the mirror. Could any of that time be better spent? If you see a need to cut back, set a goal to shave off a few minutes in front of the mirror each day and set it aside for something more meaningful for yourself or others.

Be an advocate: If you teach or lead a youth group of any sort, set a goal to integrate body-positive messages, media literacy and real health goals into your curriculum. Young people are in desperate need of positive, empowering messages to counteract the harmful ones they’re surrounded by each day. It will absolutely take extra time and effort, but we promise it will be well worth your while.

Compliments that count: Make a resolution to compliment girls and women for more than those easy comments on pretty hair, weight loss, clothing, etc.  When we minimize other females to just their bodies, we forget to remind them of their beautiful talents, characters, and gifts!

One of our favorite things to do is slap our sticky notes with awesome phrases like “There is more to BE than eye candy!” on ads (or storefront windows, or catalogs, or mirrors…) to remind those who pass by that it’s OK to question media messages that hurt us. It’s OK to push back with a positive message. It’s OK to speak up and take your happiness back! Also, it’s pretty fun. Lindsay had a great time adding a little uplifting rear-end coverage to this very public Victoria’s Secret sign! If you feel inclined to join this movement, you can buy our sticky notes or postcards to help us spread body positive messages far and wide while helping us continue our work with Beauty Redefined.

Join us today in welcoming the Body Hate Apocalypse of 2012! We’d love to hear your body-positive resolutions, and we’ll do our best to remind, encourage and support you all year long!

  1. Ashley

    This is a wonderful articles with great messages and awesome tips for taking action. Great work!

  2. Ali

    I have to say this is so true! When I was at my lowest weight I was still miserable and unhappy. The number on the scale or on a pair of jeans does NOT equal happiness

  3. Elizabeth

    Great article, I shared it on Facebook! I especially like number 4 (Can the Tan). My dad is a dermatologist, and he thinks tanning booths should be outlawed. It’s dangerous! I also like your entire website. I struggle with my weight, but lately I’ve been proud of myself because when I exercise I think about getting healthier, not happier. I was also happy when I was able to move up to level three on a workout DVD. I had switched my mentality from losing x number of pounds, to getting stronger and gaining stamina and endurance. I still think about numbers and sizes sometimes; it’s hard to stop all at once. I’m getting better with Beauty Redefined’s help though. Thank you. As a side note, I ordered and received the post it notes, and I’ve been enjoying sticking them various places.

    • kayjay

      Hmm… ”great article” i see your point, but i think your insights are more valueable than the whole (beautyredefined) blog, for someone looking for a positive, healthy happy approach… I especiallly appreciate your (Elizabeth’s) wholesome happiness about moving up to the level three on the wourkout video, acknowleging the excitement of paying attention to your physical strength… and Elizabeth you need not be concerned to stop all thinking about size etc, it is not unhealthy to want to be PHYSICALLY happy with the body your sculpting :) keep up the happy approach you’re sharing with people, and thanks for your insight.

  4. Hannah

    Love this! 16. Send in photo and story to The Real Body Project!

  5. Maddie

    What a fantastically concrete set of steps for overcoming body hate. These are so specific and doable! Thank you!

  6. Brian

    Thank you! I shared this on my Facebook page. My wife is a BBW, and she is smart, stable, wonderful, and sexy. I adore who she is, not what size jeans she wears. Thank you for spreading the message that a real person, with heart and soul, is so much better than those plastic media darlings.

  7. Michelle

    Love this :D

  8. Amanda- Hip House Girl
    Amanda- Hip House Girl12-29-2011

    I love these goals. I especially love #1. I wasted a lot of time worrying that I didn’t look cute enough when I exercised (seriously, if you look totally hott while working out, you are probably worrying about looking totally hott more than actually exercising). I worried about people looking at my slowish speed on the treadmill and thinking I was a wimp. But then I decided that if people are actually doing that (and they probably aren’t) they need to get a life.

    I will add that running a race was a huge confidence builder for me. It’s a measurable fitness goal that I admittedly took on partially to lose weight, but it ended up doing a LOT more for me. I felt awesome knowing that, having not been particularly athletic previously in my life, I had it in me to run a 10k. I would encourage everyone to sign up for one, and then find and follow a training plan (like Hal Higdon’s free ones). You’ll feel awesome! And while training, follow #5 and #6!

    Thanks again for these wonderful tips!

  9. Tiffany

    This is awesome… glad I stubbled across your website.

  10. ajay rochester
    ajay rochester01-08-2012

    I hear you, I am with you! I’ve had to starve myself just to keep jobs and justify my “worth” on TV! Too many people are waking up hating themselves just because of how much they weigh! Body Hate Apocalypse: Love the skin you’re in!!!!

  11. Ariel

    I so appreciate all that you are doing with Beauty Redefined. I have recently realized how much I have been affected by the false images of beauty that we are bombarded with every day. I appreciate that you not only give the larger perspective, but help individuals know what they personally can do in small steps to take back beauty. Thank you so much!

  12. Madeline

    Beauty isn’t defined by the number on the scale or even what we see when we look in the mirror. There is so much more to life than just worrying about appearances. Coming from a past of eating disorders (both mine, and some friends) i’m more motivated than ever to be healthy and happy. We tend to forget that happiness isn’t based on a number. You can wear ANY size and be a beautiful person. What really matters is surrounding yourself with people you love, standing up for what’s right, and feeling good about who you are. Beauty redefined helped me realize that. 2012 is our year to make a positive change!

  13. Jenna

    Thank you so much for every single article on this website. All that I have read this week has really helped me tear down the walls of my personal esteem struggles, and helped me accept myself so much more. I have learned so much!! I want to share this with the world!

    As was mentioned, I do have the opportunity to influence a group of girls that I lead in various activities once a month; they are ages 8-11. Included in this group of girls are my two daughters, ages 8 and 10. What ways would you recommend that I introduce the ideas of “rejecting harmful media, and learning the difference between the media and reality” to young girls of this age? Can you send me a private email with recommendations?

  14. Tori

    I love this article and number seven!! No more VS! ;)

  15. Shelby

    Thank you so much for speaking up for women and taking action. I love your website and this article was awesome.

  16. ---

    Fundamentally misses the point that feminism is about equality – fat, fitness and self-image are not just female issues. Whilst you take a myopic and subjective view of body issues, one that excludes men, you can never hope to change the world positively for the better. It is a shame you feel you can’t go that extra step and make the statements that these issues require.

    • Beauty Redefined
      Beauty Redefined06-01-2012

      What a statement! We can never hope to change the world for the better? These resolutions can apply to both genders, with possibly a bit of tailoring, but self-objectification is largely a female issue, and Beauty Redefined is made up of two females whose master’s and doctoral research focuses deeply on femininity. We have all the hope in the world that we can change the world positively, and indeed, I believe we’re doing just that!

  17. Ellie

    I found out about your website via New Moon Girls, and I love it! I think that the most important thing for women and girls to know about beauty is that appearances do not define who you are or your worth. Your website helps so much!

    By the way, there is scientific proof that the world will not end on December 21, 2012. It’s a media scam and has little science, logic, or thought backing it.

  18. Susie

    I read this post and identified with it – it inspired a post on my blog here – I have had issues with my weight and body image, and I’m working not to feel like that any more. I’m totally on board with stopping hating the way I look!

  19. Sumiko

    I read this post when you first wrote it last December. Nine months later, the small steps and workable suggestions you set out here have made a huge change in my life, in the way I perceive and treat my body. THANK YOU so much for doing this work!

  20. Yoga

    This spirit of redefining beauty is going to take over our mind and we will look in the mirror and see our inner beauty shinning brighter. I love stumbling into an idea that excites my spirit.

    Thanks you

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