How one woman found yoga, eased her inner hunger, and started loving herself. Follow Kimber as she shares her journey to loving her body, the joys and sorrows of yoga teaching, and venturing into the wilderness of writing and publishing.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Love Your Body Blog Part 28: When Fashion Magazines Attack.

You’ve heard the old joke: a doctor comes into an exam room and asks the patient what’s wrong. He says, “Doctor, every time I do this,” slapping himself in the face, “it hurts!” The doctor says, “I can cure you. Don’t do that.”

It seems simple, right? Just don’t do things that hurt. But we all know it’s not that easy.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked into a waiting area and picked up a fashion magazine, thinking to spend an idle few minutes checking out at the latest in glam makeup, high-heeled shoes, and micro-mini pencil skirts. I start with “Go Cute and Strapless for Spring,” and “10 Secrets Women Should Know about Men,” then move onto “Secrets Your Trainer Never Tells You,” and “The Fastest Route to a Bikini-Ready Body.” For no apparent reason, my head starts to hurt and my stomach growls. Wishing a scone and a latte would magically appear, I worry that I’ve eaten too much today and exercised too little. My thighs feel fat and uncomfortable. I’m miserable, while a mere twenty minutes ago I felt just peachy.

For years I thought I hated waiting rooms, hated being patient, hated hanging out on someone else’s whim. But I know differently now… I suffer from Post-Airbrush Syndrome, or PAS.

Did you know, reading fashion magazines can be hazardous to your health? They should carry Surgeon General Warnings on them: “Observing pictures of airbrushed models may change your brain chemistry and cause mood swings. Do not use while operating heavy machinery.” All we need are the electrodes and the control group; someday science will back me up on this.

Several pages into the magazine, the mood shift begins: increased crankiness and irritability. As you head beyond the diet tips, and past the 100th photo of an unnaturally perfect body, physical symptoms soon follow: headache, nausea, dizziness, and shortness of breath.

The airbrushed world between the magazine pages stares back at you with its tongue out and its hands waving alongside its ears. Nanny, nanny, boo-boo.

Your life is not airbrushed. You wonder why not. Your mind struggles with the cognitive dissonance of the imperfect, tangible world of alarm clocks and wrinkles you see around you, and the smooth perfect lines of airbrushed non-reality.

As you look up from your PAS induced stupor, you may feel as if someone slapped you in the face. I can cure you. Stop reading fashion magazines.

You might be one of the lucky few women who can read a fashion magazine without a single morsel of creeping self-doubt. If so, I congratulate you. For the rest of us, just start to notice how you feel before you pick up the magazine, while you’re reading it, and after you’ve put it aside. Are you still feeling friendly towards your body? How’s your inner best friend feeling? Loved? Admired? Valued? Or do fashion magazines arm your inner critic with a handful of body-hating grenades?

If it’s the latter, just stop.

Know that picking up a fashion magazine is like inviting your inconsiderate uncle over for a dinner of fresh criticism over rice with extra meanness on the side.

Better yet, ask your body, your best friend… “Hey body, what do you think of fashion magazines?” My body answers, “I’d rather be outside in the sun. Or play with the dog. Or even just sit here and breathe deeply. Actually, I’d rather do anything else.” What kind of magazines does my body like? Any kind that doesn’t encourage me to be at war with it. Simple.

Listen to your body, keep breathing, and just say no to PAS: Post-Airbrush Syndrome.

Next post: More ways to love your body.