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Laurens Way Press Launch by Darren Johnson / iDJ Photography is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Kerry Egan, a hospice chaplain in South Carolina and the author of Fumbling says that the story of patients not appreciating their bodies until they are close to leaving it is among the saddest regrets she has heard.

Sadly, our society makes us hate our bodies, and it especially happens to women.

Advertisements tell women that beauty is only about looks. They sell products for better breasts, hips, eyes, lips, teeth, straight hair, and a perfect body line. We see the image of a Victoria’s Secret kind of models on TV, magazines, newspapers, direct mails, billboards, web banners, bus stop benches, subway platforms, trains, and posters. Everywhere. Everyday. It is telling women that they can become beautiful if they spend enough of their time, money, and effort.

But, the truth is, they arbitrarily create an image of beauty that a few can ever attain. As a matter of fact, it is not too much to argue that nobody can do it because it is a common practice to retouch the photo of a model. Ads even ridicule their image of ugliness. Check this, this or this one to see what they shamelessly do to sell their products.

Women in real life have to compare themselves with artificially created beings, and they are constantly judged by men and other women who are equally brainwashed by those ads. As a result, ordinary women implant the feeling of guilt, envy and shame as they fail to achieve that ideal image. Basically, women should be white, young, and thin. If they are non-Caucasian, old or fat, they end up feeling they have failed as a woman. This explains how women in hospice end up not loving their body and feeling ashamed of it.

It is NOT wise to pursue their version of beauty because it’s fake, ephemeral, and expensive.

What we really want to do is to be grateful for our body and to love it.

One of Kerry Egan’s patients told her,

I am going to miss this body so much, I’d never admit it to my husband and kids, but more than anything else, it’s my own body I’ll miss most of all. This body that danced and ate and swam and had sex and made babies. It’s amazing to think about it. This body actually made my children. It carried me through this world. And I’m going to have to leave it. I don’t have a choice. And to think I spent all those years criticizing how it looked and never noticing how good it felt – until now when it never feels good.

References

Killing Us Softly 3: Advertising’s Image of Women. Sut Jhally. Media Education Foundation. 1999.
Killing Us Softly 4: Advertising’s Image of Women. Sut Jhally. Media Education Foundation. 2010.