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The dangers of ‘thinspiration’

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It takes a strong, confident, independent female to be comfortable in today’s world. We live in a time where everyone has instant access to everything and images influence what we feel and believe. The internet, social media, blogs and other online media outlets feed our brains with a constant stream of visual information. How we interpret this visual information has a direct effect on our self-esteem and the self-esteem of young girls developing into women.

I enjoy the electronic world as much as everyone else but as a self-esteem programmer and mentor and life coach for females both young and old, I understand all too well how important it is to teach our minds to distinguish the real from an enhanced version of reality. Magazines, television and the internet are always going to expose us to images that are enhanced beyond what is possible. Their objective is to sell the products being featured and enhancing images assists in that goal. This practice is simply beyond our control.

During my Dove-supported self-esteem workshops with young women, I use intervention practices that can help change females’ interpretation of the visual information they are receiving. I always teach females never to compare themselves to others and instead discover grace, acceptance and love from within. The key is educating females on what is REAL and what is not—a helpful tool to change how their brain processes this visual information from the media.

For example, one of the self-esteem building exercises I do with girls and women involves looking through several popular magazines together and identifying the enhanced images. We then hold a group discussion of the image enhancements. This in turn helps reinforce the fact that comparing self to others really isn’t healthy for the self-image—not to mention how damaging this behavior can be when the comparisons are between self and someone in a magazine who isn’t even real. I call these discussions our “reality checks.”


During these exercises, one particular image that comes up frequently is the images of women with gorgeous long and full eye-lashes. Most of these images are done either to sell mascara or to present an extremely feminine visual for the reader. Reality check—the majority of these images involve the model wearing false lashes. False lashes aren’t necessarily a bad thing, but our brain needs to be taught that real eyelashes shouldn’t be compared to the synthetic ones. Once we teach our mind how to process these images differently, they begin to have a different effect on our self-esteem. Instead of experiencing feelings of inadequacy and imperfection, we feel empowered and enlightened to just beyoutiful!

Power to you: 5 tips for boosting your self-image

Our mind is a powerful part of who we are and what we experience. How we process information is something that can be modified through new growth and understanding. We just have to provide the brain with all the information.

Those who have daughters, sisters, granddaughters, cousins or female friends make sure to help teach and mentor them on how to be them-selves and keep their perception of beauty real. There are five key tools we can learn to help fight against this negative quest for perfection:

1. Stop comparing you to others. You were made unique to anyone else for a reason. Your beauty is a special gift from above that should celebrated, not criticized.

2. If you insist on comparing yourself to others, be sure that your comparison is made to someone real, not someone who has been enhanced beyond reality.

3. When you find yourself viewing enhanced images, make sure your next step is a reality check teaching your brain how to keep the proper perspective.

4. When you look in the mirror daily, list three things you love about you.

5. Each day remind at least one other female how amazing, fabulous and beautiful she is. Your words may change the way she sees herself.

Yes, there is an ocean of negative energy in this world obsessed with female perfection; but you control what type of energy you let into your life. Start surrounding yourself with positive, accepting and supportive people who encourage your successes and help grow your belief in you. Once we take control of the type of energy—we allow into our world, our life can become all we want it to be.

Stacey A. Rowcliffe, MS Clinical Psychology. Author of Female Fusion—Inspiring REAL stories about REAL females. Visit Stacey online at


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