"Maria"

Name: "Maria"
Age: 31    
City: New York City
Occupation: Consultant

Please describe how YOU see your body in general when you look in the mirror. 

  • I love my eyes because they are blue and give me a personality
  • Eye brows: I like the shape
  • Breasts: they are firm and round
  • Legs: are long and thin
    I don’t really like my belly, there’s some fat on it and I don’t always feel comfortable wearing a bikini. I also don’t like my taille (waist) too much, I wish it was a bit more of an hour glass. Overall I am very happy with the way I look! Some days I feel like a fox ;)

Describe how you feel about your body on a “good” day and “bad day”.

Good day: like a fox. On a bad day: I feel like a water balloon.

What do you consider beauty to mean? What is beautiful to you?

I think it is beautiful when women have high cheekbones, and when they carry themselves well. When they look radiant and confident.

What does a healthy body image mean to you and what are your body image goals?

I want to feel content. I always think I want to look like a model (and of course that would be nice) but in a way, I think that the way you look shapes your personality, or perhaps the other way around. I like the way I am, the way I feel and the way I think, so in that ratio it wouldn't make sense if I wanted to change myself too much. 
I would like to be stronger, so I feel my body can carry challenges in my work and personal life. I felt good when my challenges switched from looking pretty to feeling strong and grounded. 
I feel like I have less energy and less strength to deal with life. My body is a tool that supports me and that I have to support. So when I eat healthily, for example, it feels like I also take care of my home, my relationships and my career. And of course, sometimes I feel less worthy of living a happy life when I think others have a better body or dress better. But it never really defined me in the end. In the end, I fall back on my brain and heart.

Are there any people who inspire you to think differently about your body in a positive way?

I can’t think of anyone now, but people that like to challenge that perfect body image, it makes me laugh and helps me look at things in perspective. Also my grandmother: she is a whole woman and I can’t imagine my grandfather ever loving her less or thinking she was less beautiful or attractive if she had gained a few pounds. I feel the same in my relationship, our weights don’t define ours; only if our appearance would be a reflection of self-hate or suppressing certain emotions. The spirit, the mind, the heart comes first. But let’s talk when I might gain 30 pounds after ever having a baby.

Can you talk about a time in your life where you felt body confident? When you didn’t? What shaped your feelings?

I was when my first boyfriend and I split up. I lost 10 pounds and I felt great, my belly was never that flat.
There was also the time that a guy came up to me about my calves and said they were like soccer players. I felt a bit uncertain and I still feel a tiny bit silly about them. 

Have you had issues or challenges with clothing in regard to body image?

Yes, I use clothes to accentuate certain body parts and when I was way younger I loved to show the breasts of course. And later I learned about what colors and what type of clothes suit me better. It’s lovely when you can drop following the latest fashion and just pick what you feel better in. 

Does your body image affect how you eat?

Sometimes, I would choose the healthier option or drink one beer less. But actually, my eating pattern is pretty constant. I do try to avoid sugar. 

When do you feel best? 

I feel best when I feel good about myself and something I am working on.

How has your body image changed over time? 

It improved!! Happy!

Who do you feel influences your body image most? 

Definitely media, it is all around. 

What pressure around body image do you feel?

Sometimes I feel like I have to be more perfect, be a healthy girl like you can find on Instagram.

What are your thoughts on media/advertising/social media and how they affect body image?

It’s crazy. I think it is unreal, but we can’t stop it. It is the outcome of a consumer market. We want everything fast and easy and cheap, including sensuality and sexuality. We became out of touch with what things "feel" like and now focus on what things "look" like. We won’t be able to change this, it has to come from us the consumers and you have to be conscious about who you follow on social media. I make conscious decisions to not be exposing myself to hurtful images that don’t support my goals or the realistic body type I have. Just smart thinking. 

How do you feel about altering appearance through cosmetic surgery and applications like Photoshop? 

We all do it, and you can’t change it. We all want to look pretty. If we want to change, it has to start on an individual level from the inside. 
I would love to see more women embracing their own body type, like the writer/director of the series ‘Girls’. (Lena Dunham) Contrary to Sex and the City, she really made a constructive positive change for young women: “Yeah! Show your fat!” And guys don’t really care I guess, we women often want to look good for other women. Perhaps it starts not with self-love but with complimenting others, men and women.