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A Baby Boomer’s Take on Our Evolving Self-Images

There it was.  That dreaded scale.  The one I thought would ring a bell loudly and shout,”Oh, jeez, please get off of me!”

self-image, weight management, jenny craig, weighing in, young women and self-images, midlife, midlife women

I remember when I was young and my mother was on a diet.  She put a gadget inside our refrigerator that, after opening the door to find something to eat, would scream “Close the door, fatty!

 I hated that contraption.

Self-image is an important reason why women (and men) spend thousands of dollars on beauty products each year.  According to an article, the Commerce Department reported, “Americans spent a whopping $33.3 billion on cosmetics and other beauty products in 2010, up 6% from 2009.”

And according to a 2013 article in TIME article, “The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) says that while total cosmetic surgeries fell by 2% last year, the number of what they call “minimally invasive” procedures rose by 6%. The most popular of these were Botox and Dysport injections, followed by soft tissue filler injections, chemical peels, laser hair removal, and microdermabrasion.”

We all want to look good.

But at what price? Our self-image starts when we’re young. We begin by comparing ourselves to the most popular girls in grade school.

You know, the girls all the boys were going ga-ga over while our hormones were raging out of control.  The ones with straight, shiny hair, button noses and long, slender legs who were good in gym and always wore the coolest clothes.

Sorry to digress.  That was my memory.  What?  Did I hear you nodding your head? Phew.

Today, the news about self-image for young people is appalling. Take a look at recent statistics:

  • One study reports that at age thirteen, 53% of American girls are “unhappy with their bodies.” This grows to 78% by the time girls reach seventeen. (Teen Health and the Media)
  • The number of cosmetic surgical procedures performed on youth under age 19 more than tripled from 1997 to 2007. (The Representation Project)
  • In 2011, Dove® released the findings of its largest global study to date on women’s relationship with beauty—The Real Truth About Beauty: Revisited. The study revealed that only 4% of women around the world consider themselves beautiful, and that anxiety about looks begins at an early age. (The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty)


I don’t know about you, but I find these numbers appalling. A female’s self-image needs a lift, and young girls urgently need our help.  

How can this be done?

Through education and awareness. And the buck stops here.

As a baby boomer and a mother, I feel a sense of urgency to portray ourselves in a positive light, and to be good role models for young people. However and whenever we can, we need to write messages that clearly demonstrate we are beautiful no matter what the scale says.

What society deems, and what glossy magazines portray, is not reality.

I want my clothes to fit better, and I’d like to feel healthier. It’s simply unhealthy to carry any extra weight, especially when there are family genetics skewed in the wrong direction.

Taking steps toward wellness and living a healthier lifestyle is why I began the Jenny Craig program. I want to get back to eating regular portion sizes, bump up the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables I consume, drink more water and get more exercise.

When I was young I wanted to look like Christie Brinkley.  Today, I am comfortable in my own skin.

I don’t have straight, shiny hair or long, slender legs.  But I do have my own unique brand of beauty, and that is something that every one of us has.

What did the scale say to me?  It said “job well done” and “thanks beautiful.”

At least in my heart it did.

What can you do to help change a young girl’s self image?

*I received a free month on the Jenny Craig program and a discount on food products.  There was no compensation.  All opinions are solely my own.  NOTE: Members following the Jenny Craig program lose, on average, 1 -2 lbs. per week. 
Read more from Cathy Chester on her blog, An Empowered Spirit

Cathy Chester

Cathy Chester blogs at An Empowered Spirit, focusing on living a healthy and vibrant life after 50. Cathy’s lived most of her life with a disability, and knows it does not define her. Changing the face of disability is her passion, along with other issues of concern such as social good and animal rights. She was voted one of the best blogs of 2013 by Healthline and was nominated for WEGO Health’s Best in Show Blog for the past two years. She is also a regular blogger for The Huffington Post as well as a Blogger/Moderator for and Healthline.

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Saturday 5th of April 2014

And maybe we should outlaw scales since weighing in only adds to anxiety.


Saturday 5th of April 2014

Yikes the statistics are alarming. This is such a important message, Cathy, and one we need to pass on to our youth. Sports for girls is especially important in building self esteem and a better body image, but not everyone enjoys sports. One of the easiest ways to boost moral, build stronger bones and control weight is so simple we overlook it....we can our walk our way to fitness...just one baby step at a time.


Saturday 5th of April 2014

Fit and healthy, and ignore the scale! That's our family motto!

Cathy Chester

Saturday 5th of April 2014

You go, Diane!

Carol Cassara

Saturday 5th of April 2014

I just saw a documentary on models and it's appalling how underweight they have to be. In some ways it begins there. Magazines ads. All this emphasis on weight is what causes eating disorders. My feeling is always move your body, eat normally and live your life. I think we put ourselves and others under the microscope of judgment way too much. Love yourself and the rest will follow!

Cathy Chester

Saturday 5th of April 2014

We are all beautiful, Carol, from the second we are born. Girls and boy must learn that at an early age. That documentary would have made me sick.


Saturday 5th of April 2014

Cathy, You are beautiful. I remember in my early twenties the overweight, balding guys who would have the gall to rate the girls on the beach when I had a house in the Hamptons. It was disgusting and made girls who are naturally beautiful self-conscious. And for what? Those guys. Thanks for this. Estelle

Cathy Chester

Saturday 5th of April 2014

I remember that, too. Being in my twenties and guys working at McGraw-Hill in Manhattan with me, where many of my colleagues were like me, fresh out of college. They'd rate us and back then I had no self-esteem and would take it personally if I didn't pass their test. Who were they to give us a test? None of them would have passed ours. Ew.

I don't think that has changed very much, which is more of a reason why we have to provide strong role models to the younger generation. It all starts with education.

BTW, you are beautiful, too!

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