Name: Katie Sigler
City: Los Angeles, CA
Occupation: Self Employed
Please describe how YOU see your body in general when you look in the mirror.
I generally don’t like my body, but I feel that’s a reflection of my self-esteem. I’m working on it.
Body parts I love:
My face. My breasts. I also love that I am reasonably healthy, with no major diseases or pain to deal with.
Body parts I love least:
My belly, because it’s big, my arms because they are starting to get flabby.
Describe how you feel about your body on a “good” day and a “bad day.”
On a good day, I don’t care too much. I’m happy to be healthy. On a bad day, I don’t like the fact that I’m heavier than I would like to be or find attractive. I look in the mirror and groan.
What do you consider beauty to mean? What is beautiful to you?
The older I get, the less I care about outer beauty. Being physically beautiful is a genetic gift that a person has little control over. A beautiful face does not always go with a beautiful soul. Now what I see as beautiful is kindness and love. Only a mind and heart can be truly beautiful.
What does a healthy body image mean to you and what are your body image goals?
My body image right now needs work—and I’m working on it. I’m trying to move away from not liking my body because it doesn’t fit society’s norms and accepting who I am right now. I’ve given up on dieting because it doesn’t work. I am not interested in changing my body to fit an ideal. I want to change my mind to accept my body as it is. My body is a reflection of my inner thoughts about myself. When I improve those thoughts, my body will change, or I won’t care if it doesn’t. My goal for my body image is to be happy with what I have, not working on changing my body so I’ll love it.
What do you feel you need to do to achieve this?
It’s an inside job all the way. I really believe that my outer self is a reflection of my inner self, so changing my thoughts about my body is the key.
Are there any people who inspire you to think differently about your body in a positive way?
Patti Smith. She’s a great artist who pays no attention to personal appearance at all. She doesn’t wear make-up, dye her hair or even get rid of her facial hair. She loves herself in her raw state without all the trappings of beauty we have created.
Can you talk about a time in your life where you felt body confident?
About ten years ago, I joined Weight Watchers and lost 30 pounds. I really liked the way I looked and felt very body confident. I got lots of positive reinforcement from friends. But what I really wanted was more attention from men—which I didn’t get. I realized that while I may get some initial attention from men based on my body, that’s all it was—a little extra attention. Being thinner wasn’t going to improve my love life. And all the effort it took to stay thin wasn’t worth it. I realized that beauty didn’t mean you would be loved. Outer beauty doesn’t guarantee love. Some of the most beautiful women in the world have had lovers who have been unfaithful.
When you didn’t?
I’ve hated my body for most of my life. I always felt fat. Now I realize how silly that was because I wasn’t fat. I’ve just never been thin. I have “Irish peasant bones.” I’m big boned, with a high natural waistline and a flyway ribs (my ribcage sticks out), so finding clothes that looked good on me was the real problem, not my body itself.
What shaped your feelings?
Society’s norms about what is beautiful. I was always trying to live up to some ideal. I never could, and because I couldn’t, I didn’t appreciate what I had.
Talk about compliments or negative comments you have received that have influenced how you have felt/how you feel
Compliments make me feel good, of course. I’ve not gotten too many negative comments from other people, but I’ve certainly made a lot about myself to myself. I’ve also noticed that women who diet obsessively as they get older age more quickly in the face. As Marilyn Monroe supposedly once said, “at a certain point, a woman is going to have to choose between her face and her fanny.” Staying unnaturally thin as you get into your 40s will definitely take a toll on your face.
I remember dating a man who was somewhat obsessed with thinness, although I didn’t realize it at first. He made comments that he was fat when he wasn’t, which should have tipped me off. Then he made the comment that I “could lose a few pounds.” This was when I was at the thinnest weight I’d been in years. I realized the trap of basing your own self-worth on other people’ opinions. You can’t please everyone.
Did/do they have a lasting effect, or can you brush them off if they are negative?
If this man had made the comment to me years earlier, I would have been devastated. Fortunately, I was able to brush it off because I liked the way I looked then. I also realized that this was his problem, not mine. I don’t want to date anyone who judges me by my body size. This is really difficult because most men do judge women by their body size. If a man can only love me when I’m thin, he doesn’t really love me.
Have you had issues or challenges with clothing in regard to body image?
This has always been a major struggle. I just don’t have the body shape favored by clothing designers.
It hurt until I realized that it was all about poor clothing design.
Do you use clothing to accentuate or hide parts of your body? How do you overcome clothing challenges?
The last bathing suit I bought had a skirt to hide my belly. I do still hide my body a lot with clothes, but I also hate clothing that’s too tight in general so that’s part of it.
I shop for clothes twice a year and forget about it for the rest of the year. I have never tailored anything. I’m not a fashionista.
Does your body image affect how you eat?
I’ve tried many diets and stopped. I’ve tried avoiding certain foods, which didn’t help. I never avoided going out because that’s one of my main joys in life. Now I just try to eat as organic as possible, avoid most junk food, and don’t eat too much sugar. I don’t have a sweet tooth, so most commercial foods are too sweet for me anyway. The answer to me liking my body will not come from changing my diet. I eat a pretty good diet, so I know my body size isn’t a result of me overeating. I eat 2-3 reasonable meals a day, rarely snack or eat sweets, and don’t eat junk food or drink soda. Weight Watchers did help me lose weight, but for that to work, you have to follow their program for the rest of your life. I just don’t have the energy or the desire to do that. I only know one person who has used Weight Watchers and kept the weight off, and she did it by staying with the program. Everyone else I know has dieted, lost weight, gained it back, dieted, lost weight, gained it back.
When do you feel best?
When I’ve had enough rest. I struggle with my energy levels and hate being tired. I’ve tried many things to improve my energy levels but none have worked as well as loving what I’m doing at the moment. Exercise has never given me more energy as many have claimed it would. When I work out, I’m usually exhausted for the rest of the day. Walking is my favorite exercise.
How has your body image changed over time?
My body image has improved, which is ironic because I’m now at an all-time high weight. But I just can’t care that much anymore because I don’t want to devote my life to losing weight. I also don’t believe we know nearly as much as we think we do about what it means to be healthy. If you are miserable following a diet, are you really getting “healthy"? I don’t even believe all the studies that show being over a certain weight is unhealthy. Most of those studies are funded by companies that own weight loss programs. Medical research has been totally corrupted by money so it’s hard for me to take all these research studies seriously. I just follow my gut on what to eat.
Who do you feel influences your body image most?
The three “M’s” -- Media, men, and me. I’m still my own worst enemy. I still want attention from men, but that’s because I am single and don’t want to be. That’s another stupid idea that I’m working on getting out of my head is the connection between a thin body and getting love. I know it’s stupid but it’s hard to change your original programming. As I said, plenty of heavy women have found love and plenty of thin women have not.
What pressure around body image do you feel?
Yes, there’s a lot of pressure from society. We have elevated being healthy to the level of a personality trait that we admire. We have far too much to say about how other people’s bodies should look, and then we excuse it by saying “but it’s important to be healthy.” We use the concept of health to justify being horribly rude and mean to others. We look down on those who are not thin. We even made a TV show, The Biggest Loser, about it. I hate that show. Shaming people for being heavy is just horrible.
What are your thoughts on the media/advertising/social media and how they affect body image? What changes would you like to see?
Stop idolizing thinness. It’s not healthy. I remember seeing a photo of Kate Hudson looking pathetically thin, with no breasts, no hips, no butt, and the headline was all about her beautiful beach body. She looked anorexic, not sexy.
Thoughts around how they affect young children/teens?
My teenage niece has an incredibly beautiful body, and she’s always calling herself fat. She’s athletic and has a muscular body, which she thinks is fat. I can’t tell you how much I hate the media when I hear her say those things.
How do you feel about altering appearance through cosmetic surgery and applications like Photoshop?
I hate it. There are no genuine photos anymore. This is going to make it ten times harder for young girls because they will be striving to meet ideals that don’t even exist.
Do you have advice/tips/suggestions for other women who would like to improve their body image? Any books/movies/role models that inspire?
- Jane Eyre. She was the original “plain Jane” who won in the end.
- Seductress by Betsy Prioleau. How the great seductresses of the world seduced men. It wasn’t about looks as much as confidence.
- Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts. She repeats the theme that it’s all about confidence, not looks.
- Patti Smith
- Carrie Fisher (she fought back against people who said she hadn’t aged well)
- Alicia Keys (she stopped wearing make-up) and any woman who is happy with herself regardless of her body size.
Your question to yourself if you would like to discuss another issue or aspect.
How can you love yourself more, as you are, right now?