City: New York City, NY
Occupation: Project Manager and Entrepreneur
I reached out to Kiki after receiving her submission because I was curious to discover where she felt her positive and strong body image developed from, because it stood out amongst many of the other interviewed women who had mixed responses. We discussed her experiences over an East Village brunch where we uncovered some interesting points, especially regarding the “nature or nurture” concept in relation to how her slightly older sister (2 ½ years) had a very different body image.
Kiki’s sister developed eating disorders (Anorexia nervosa and Bulimia nervosa) and depression in her early teenage years. Kiki suspected there was some trouble with her sister and saw she was displaying signs of depression, but their parents prevented Kiki out from being involved in the situation. Kiki feels that they maybe did that to avoid the possibility of her older sister influencing her into an eating disorder also.
Kiki described herself as being very outgoing and active when growing up and feels that her involvement in sports like gymnastics, cheerleading, and other activities such as singing and performing may have helped build body confidence due to positive reinforcement from those around her. Her sister was very private and independent in comparison and despite both sisters seemingly receiving unequivocal and doting love from both parents, felt she received less. This is where we discussed the subject of “Nature vs Nurture”: in this case, both sisters had the same upbringing, which brought up the question of why the sisters were body confidence polar opposites. Kiki feels that there was a chemical imbalance which made her sister more sensitive to negative comments made to her, and susceptible to depression and eating disorders. (There is no known history of eating disorders in the family.) A possible trigger for her body image issues, which was brought up at a later date by Kiki’s sister, was a comment made by a “jokester” Aunt regarding her "full-face and gaining weight on it". (Another example of how important it is to watch our words, because we can’t ever take them back).
Please describe how YOU see your body in general when you look in the mirror.
Let’s see… I love my feet! I think they are cute! I like my ears because they are each a bit different. I like my nose because it suits me. My skin is clear and soft. I like the color of eyes and the shape of my legs. I like the curve of my back. I like the shape of my arms. I like the shape of my neck.
I don’t love my hands…just think they aren’t all that pretty but they’re fine. They don’t offend me too much! Overall, I think I am very cute! I don’t think I have bad body days really… maybe some days I feel a bit chubby… but that’s kinda silly really.
What do you consider beauty to mean? What is beautiful to you?
Beauty is in the way someone moves…in their posture…in their confidence of themselves.
What does a healthy body image mean to you and what are your body image goals?
I feel great about my body image. In general, I need to do more yoga.
Can you talk about a time in your life where you felt body confident? When you didn’t? What shaped your feelings?
I pretty much always feel body confident.
Kiki mentioned that she is really lucky because the support of people around her, from family to partners has helped build a strong body image foundation.
In regard to comments received: Kiki states she has a curvaceous butt in relation to her small body frame and when growing up received attention about it but brushed it off with an attitude of “whatever”, like “water off a duck’s back”.
Kiki feels “Really lucky” because the positive support of people around her, from family to partners has helped build a strong body image foundation.
Have you had issues or challenges with clothing in regard to body image?
Sometimes, but it doesn’t affect me.
Do you use clothes to “hide” or “accentuate” body parts?
Depends on my mood.
Does your body image affect how you eat?
When do you feel best?
I feel great when I’m showered, clean and dressed up!
How has your body image changed over time?
Who do you feel influences your body image most?
What pressure around body image do you feel?
What are your thoughts on the media/advertising/social media and how they affect body image?
It would be refreshing to see fuller-figured women more often in the media.
In regard to children and teens: Police the channels they have access to, and restrict screen time to help avoid negative impact from social media and advertising.
Kiki made an observation that Europe is much more “real” with their advertising approach whereas America tends to be preoccupied with “creating the fantasy”.
How do you feel about altering appearance through cosmetic surgery and applications like Photoshop?
I used to hate the idea of cosmetic surgery no matter what…but I realize it allows some women to love themselves. So now, I fully support it although alterations should be made very carefully. I also don’t like to see Photoshop alterations, but this is the world we live in and we have to take these images with a grain of salt and realism.
Do you have any advice/tips/suggestions for other women who would like to improve their body image?
Do things that make you feel good about you!