How to Say No to Stupid Body Ideals – to Live Your Best Life!

Don’t Waste Your Precious Energy Feeling Shit About Yourself.

Life Should Not Be a Journey to the Grave with the Intention of Arriving Safely in a Pretty and Well Preserved Body, but Rather to Skid in Broadside in a Cloud of Smoke, Thoroughly Used Up, Totally Worn Out, and Loudly Proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!” Hunter S. Thompson

91% of women are unhappy with their bodies. Read that again. Almost all women are unhappy with themselves! How insane is that?!

It’s a very sad statistic, but what’s even sadder is the self-destructive behavior that these limiting beliefs are causing (both women and men). Unhealthy diet fads, dangerous cosmetic procedures, eating disorders, you name it. All to try to match some type of body ideal in the hope of feeling good enough. 

But the methods don’t work, because the beauty industry turns over many billions of dollars every year. And still, there is no change in the statistics of how women feel about themselves. If anything, the trend seems to only worsen according to the constant reporting in the news on increased levels of poor mental health.

So are we all doomed to a life-time of feeling shit about ourselves and ruining our bodies and lives in the process? No, I don’t think so. In fact, I know that there is an alternative to hating yourself since I’m one of the very few women who are actually happy with myself and my body. 

I’m neither a model nor born immune to society’s ideas of how a woman “should” look. Instead, I think I feel good about myself because I’m practicing the hacks in this blog post. Read on to learn how you can do the same – to let go of self-hatred so that you can focus all of your energy on living your best possible life!

But let’s start by talking about a time in my life when I felt like crying every time I looked in the mirror. It was before I found healing in keto. I’d just gotten an (I later found out) incorrect bipolar disorder after years of depressions and erratic behavior. I’d started taking medication, and the side effects were horrible: among them, weight gain and hair loss.

Before I had my happy ending with slimming down and feeling good on natural methods, I went through a period of hell. I was stuck: I didn’t want to take the medication, but I didn’t know what else to do.

My experience with losing control over my appearance made me determined to not attach my wellbeing to the way I look ever again. Because I don’t want to be a slave to something that is out of my control. 

Sure, I’ll do my best every day to eat well so that I stay healthy. But there is no guarantee that I won’t gain weight or lose my hair again. And if that happens, I don’t want to become depressed because of it. 

Instead of chasing a solution on the outside, I prefer to focus on the inside. One of my favorite strategies for this is to practice the philosophy of Stoicism. The idea of Stoicism is that we’re powerless over external events, and the only thing that we have control over is our mind. So by choosing how we look at a situation, we can empower ourselves to not feel down about anything.

But not caring can be easier said than done when we’re being bombarded with beauty ideals everywhere we look. It’s hard to open Instagram, read a magazine, or watch a TV show without hearing celebrities and influencers talk about “improving” their looks and encouraging others to do the same. No wonder women feel insufficient. 

It’s easy to get jealous of “perfection” on Instagram and feel low when comparing ourselves. In the brilliant book 13 Things Mentally Strong Women Don’t Do, the author Amy Morin uses a metaphor of shoeboxes as a way to avoid the comparison trap. Morin says that what people show on social media is like pictures that we put on the outside of a shoebox. It’s usually the images that show us in our best possible light. 

But everyone has an “inside” of the shoebox too, with pictures that we’re not so keen on showing. That can be anything from relationship breakdowns, career struggles, mental health issues… So the next time you feel bad looking at a glossy image of “perfection,” remember that there is always more to it.

But also I have been influenced by beauty norms. A few years ago, I developed a complex for the bags under my eyes and was considering injecting fillers to get rid of them.

The feminist in me hated the idea of succumbing to any beauty ideal and supporting an industry that thrives in women finding faults in themselves. But I argued that maybe it wasn’t that big of a deal. It didn’t seem that dangerous, and perhaps i could look at it as “restoration.”

But I was conflicted, so I discussed it with my coach at the time. He asked me an excellent question: “If you go ahead with that procedure, where will it end?”

He was so right. Doing one thing to try to “fix” myself could open Pandora’s box. Maybe I’d end up with half a nose and three boobs. So I kept the bags under my eyes, and today I rarely think about it (it helps to spend almost no time in front of the mirror).

I’m glad that I didn’t go ahead with the injections. Chasing beauty ideals is a game that no one can win because ideals change all of the time. Even Angelina Jolie will be screwed if the next trend is minimal lips and an asymmetric face.

But although it’s easy to encourage women to not care about their appearance, the sad fact remains that women who chose to go natural get judged. Research shows that society perceives women with makeup as more competent.

Back when I was in a corporate career, I hated spending time in the morning putting on makeup. Because even if it only took a few minutes, I would rather have slept for that time. The average woman spends almost an hour a day on hair and makeup. Imagine what you could do instead with 300+ extra hours in the year?!

I remember a success talk by the investor and self-help guru Tai Lopez, where he spoke about wearing your scars with pride. In a nutshell, he asked who you’d want next to you in the trenches of a war zone. Would you want a porcelain doll with no life experience or a scruffy warrior with scars in the face?

I suppose Tai’s discussion on scars was a metaphor for life, but I think it’s helpful also in the literal sense. Today’s society is so beauty-obsessed that a wrinkle equals trauma. But “imperfections” like scars and wrinkles show life experience, and hopefully, a bit of wisdom! What’s wrong with that?

Having said that, I know what it’s like to want to be attractive. A while back, I was dating a man whose only compliments to me were about my appearance. It was a nice boost to my ego, but it also triggered my insecurities. Could I keep it up? 

Sure enough, the guy quickly dumped me for someone else who I assume was better-looking. The next time I date someone, I’m going to make sure that the relationship has more to it than just physical attraction. I never want to feel that insecure again. (And it’s comforting to know that it’s pheromones that cause attraction. So maybe looks don’t matter that much after all.)

Now I’m celibate as part of my spiritual journey. Perhaps nothing has helped me let go of worrying about my appearance as much celibacy.

Because to be honest, any concern I’ve ever had about the way I look correlates with a fear of not being “good enough” for men. That is: a fear of not getting laid or not being loved. With sex not being an option for the time being, there isn’t really any reason to worry about being pretty. It’s a relief! 

Today my goal is to think as little as possible about my appearance. I live in the jungle in Costa Rica, and there is no point wearing make up because it would just melt away. There are not many people around to see what I look like anyway. The lifestyle here is “Pura Vida”: spending time in nature, going to the beach, doing outdoor sports. I love it!

I understand if you’re not sold on my ideas of moving to the jungle, becoming a nun, and not looking in the mirror to feel good about yourself. So here are some other powerful and practical ways to do it! Which one/s of the following tips can you try to stop giving away power to body norms, and use the energy to create your best life instead?
 

How to Say No to Stupid Body Ideals:

1. Be Stoic.

The old philosophers focused on how to live a good, virtuous life, and we can learn from them how to do the same. As a part of my morning routine for the past few years, I read a page in The Daily Stoic. It’s a great way to start the day in the spirit of empowerment!

2. Find a Role Model.

Seek out a strong role model who you admire for their qualities, and who doesn’t give a shit about their looks. It can be a friend, celebrity, or as in my case, a coach. If you get insecure about your body, ask yourself what your idol would do in that situation. How can you be more like him or her?

3. Avoid Triggers.

If magazines and Instagram cause you to compare yourself and feel low, don’t go there. Choose to read something and follow accounts that lift your spirits and inspire you instead.

4. Do Something Worthy. 

If feeling insecure about our bodies comes from a lack of self-worth, the antidote is to do something worthy. Get so busy with meaningful activities that you don’t have any time to worry about how you look! Get involved in a charity, do a course to learn something new, or call an old relative who is lonely.

5. Beware of Your Relationships. 

Are you around people who are constantly complaining about their looks (and perhaps “fat” that doesn’t even exist)? You’re the average of the five people who you spend the most time with, so no wonder that would make you question your own body.

Say that you don’t want to talk about the subject because it’s not making you feel good and if the other person doesn’t respect it, you can always choose more positive friends.

6. Stem Cell Therapy.

Instead of doing cosmetic procedures to chase youth, consider a method that actually can help with reversing aging: stem cell therapy.

I attended a fascinating round table discussion with these doctors at this year’s Biohacking Conference in Los Angeles and stem cell therapy is definitely on my bucket list. Aside from the health benefits, the doctors mentioned how stem cell treatments could help with revitalizing skin and reversing grey hair.

Love,
Alexia Bjarkan

Alexia Bjarkan
alexia@thebenefactory.com

Keto Coach at The Benefactory.

2 Comments
  • Donna E G Haugen
    Posted at 01:32h, 07 October Reply

    What a beautiful , well written article Alexia, thank you for being vulnerable and for sharing your story. You are an amazing, beautiful, and empowered woman. I will definitely try a few of your tips. I believe I’ll start with the stoic. I also practice radical acceptance, so when I get a little too caught up in the way I look , I radically accept that that is a part of me and I love me! I also love to let go of things that do not serve me and leave room for new wonderful opportunities! All the love and light to you,
    💕
    Butterfly

    • Alexia Bjarkan
      Posted at 19:11h, 07 October Reply

      Hi Butterfly,
      I’m thrilled that you liked my blog post and that you’re going to give the tips a go, thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I love the sound of radical acceptance and letting go! Enjoy your Stoic journey. 🙂
      Lots of love back to you

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