Feeling fat and unhappy about our body image is a universal women’s issue. Especially during fertility treatment, pregnancy and after giving birth. I just read yet another article written by a desperate young woman lamenting about the weight that she gained during fertility treatment, pregnancy and postpartum. The media doesn’t help by front page articles and pictures of postpartum celebrities like Kim Kardashian bragging about how they lost 40lbs of baby weight.
As an everyday woman of a “certain age,” and as a psychotherapist, I have observed that it is necessary to accept certain body changes. Mid-life brings menopause. Aging brings wrinkles, age spots, rounded bellies and thighs and all kinds of changes in our appearance that can not be fixed by diet and exercise. We have celebrity role models like Demi Moore, Jane Fonda and Helen Mirren who make careers about looking ageless. The media does not discuss changes in body function and appearances like the thinning of the vaginal wall and changes in the labia.
Identifying with youth and body image is a problem for women as they age. The fading of youth and normal body changes are painful. But Low self esteem cannot be solved by plastic surgery, Botox and fillers. Healthy self esteem can be boosted by the discipline of diet and exercise. However, when women can not accept aging, (I didn’t say like it.), food can become a way to soothe painful loss. Weight gain is a complicated issue for the aging woman that can be caused by hormonal changes and grief. For many women, there comes a call to look deeper at causes of low self esteem other than loss of youthful beauty. Every stage of a woman’s life is a challenge to gain wisdom and self-love.