Notes and Mentions
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Serena: Hey Everyone, I’m Serena.
Tina: And I’m Tina and we are the Mental Health Mamas.
Serena: Welcome to No Need to Explain, we are so glad you’re here.
Tina: First, as always, a quick disclaimer.
Serena: We come to you NOT as mental health professionals or experts in the field, but rather as the parents of kids who struggle with their emotional health.
Tina: If you or someone you love is experiencing a mental health crisis, please seek professional support. You’ll find a variety of resources in our show notes and on our website, NoNeedToExplainPodcast.com.
Serena: Tina, talk to me about perfectionism.
Tina: Ah yes, the perfection problem. I guess that I would say I am a work in progress in terms of dealing with perfectionism. What about you Serena?
Serena: I would definitely echo that. I really personally value authenticity and transparency, yet living in the curated world that we do...it’s a challenge.
Tina: Right. Growing up it was all about what we saw in magazines and on TV and now social media everywhere! You can’t look away.
Serena: Right. And it’s not only challenging but sometimes scary to put something out into the world that isn’t perfect. And we know, we can imagine, that many of you out there listening feel the same way.
Tina: And that’s why we’ve invited Stephanie Snow to the podcast today. Stephanie holds a BA in Psychology and she is also a certified Mind, Body Eating Coach. She hosts a podcast called, “Flip the Beauty Script” and is leading what she calls, and we love this, a “Beauty Revolution”. Stephanie, welcome to the podcast!
Stephanie: Thanks for having me. I’m very happy to be here today.
Serena: So Stephanie, let’s start by having you tell our listeners about the Beauty Revolution. What is this?
Stephanie: Yes. Beauty Revolution is an organization I founded a few years ago, as a sort of mutiny on this impossible pursuit of “perfection” we were thrown into by virtue of being born women, and into our misguided society.
Because we’ve been bullied into thinking we must look a certain way to be beautiful, happy and successful. Not only that, the characteristics that define this “beauty” change all the time. There is no way we can possibly keep up with them all, let alone be able to manipulate our bodies into achieving them.
And we know that how we feel about our bodies affects every other aspect of our lives, from the daily choices we make, to the chances we’re willing to take and how we reach out to others, as well. In working with several women, I’ve found that many of us are living “small”, not going for our goals, or making big choices, due to feelings of insecurity, lack and worthlessness.
It’s a travesty to me that so many of us are WASTING our lives worrying about how much we weigh, noticing all our little imperfections, or figuring out what we can do to get rid of them, when we could be out there LIVING our lives.
As you were just talking about, there is NO shortage of messages everywhere we look, bombarding us daily, telling us how we need to change, where we fall short, or what we need to buy and apply to be beautiful and perfect. These messages literally permeate our lives through a never-ending stream of filtered social media posts, glossy magazine covers, commercials for botox, liposuction and face lifts, radio ads for laser hair removal or body-sculpting, and countless diet plans lining bookstore shelves. Our minds are saturated with the images and words.
Not only that, our society is also saturated with women and girls that have a negative body image. Studies show that 4 out of 5 US women are dissatisfied with their appearance, that 72% of girls, and 68% of women avoid everyday activities because they feel awful about their looks. Of course these numbers cannot solely be blamed on the media, advertising, or the world of fashion and beauty, but let’s be honest--they certainly don’t help.
I don’t know about you, but I got really tired of this and how it was affecting me and many women I cared about. So I decided to declare war- and created this revolution against society’s narrow definition of beauty and how it makes women feel.
Tina: Whoa! Not even sure where to start there! So many points to highlight and I’ll be honest, as I always am, the statistics around negative body image shock me! Really, they just blew me away. Yeah, for sure. I guess I have felt so many of the ways you describe above but didn’t feel as though I was part of a majority. And I guess we’ll go back to, I am not alone, right? So let’s dig in. One of the things that you said that I really like is, “No perfect shape, no wrinkle-free face, no magic number on the scale guarantees us anything.” Can you say more about this?
Stephanie: Yeah. So we’ve been sold the idea that if we look a certain way, and are a certain size, life will be so much better. But this is a lie! We are still humans, living in an imperfect world. We will still have to go to work, take care of our family, and deal with other challenges, even if we look “perfect”. Our bodies will still get injured or sick, and no matter how much botox you inject, or fat you get sucked out, or even miles you run, our bodies are ageing and will eventually die. I hate to be dramatic about it, but we’re all gonna die one day. Too many of us are spending our precious time, energy and money trying to achieve this “perfect” body, that we are missing out on the beauty and joy of being in the body we already have.
Not only that, an interesting point is even those people we look at and think are perfect, have their own struggles. Supermodel Cameron Russell once said, “If you ever wondered if you’d be happier if you had thinner thighs or shinier hair, you just need to be around a group of supermodels. They have the thinnest thighs and shiniest hair and the coolest clothes and they are the most physically insecure women on the planet.” That kind of blew me away when I heard that.
This is not to say that we shouldn’t want to improve ourselves or try to look our best. But if the focus of our lives and our energy is on that pursuit, we may be missing out on more important things.
Serena: Hmm. Yeah. That’s such a great point. I can recall hearing about some of the things that people speak about when they are dying and the various regrets they have. I know that often people wish they had spent more time with friends and family. I don’t think I’ve heard anyone regretting those ten pounds that they struggled to lose. As we mentioned in the introduction, you are a certified Mind, Body Eating Coach and this certification comes from the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. What does a Mind Body Eating Coach do?
Stephanie: That’s a lot of mouthful, isn’t it? This type of coaching is a whole new, kind of out of the box approach. It’s not just dieting, eating less and moving your body more. It’s based on two concepts: First, Dynamic Eating Psychology which focuses on the idea that each of us has a unique, fascinating, and ever-changing relationship with food and with our bodies. Our challenges with eating, weight and health are not an indication that we’re broken, but that we are human, and have an opportunity to grow and evolve this relationship. Just like any other relationship in our life.
And the second concept is that of Mind Body Nutrition, which focuses on the connections between brain, body, and behavior. Simply put, what we eat is only half of the story of good nutrition. The other half is who we are as eaters, and what we “bring to the table” when we sit down to eat. It’s interesting. So many areas of life can profoundly influence digestion, calorie burning, and the weight that we carry.
Tina: Yeah. It makes total sense that it isn’t all about the food. If it were that easy, we wouldn’t spend time and money on all these diet programs out there. In addition to all of your credentials and work life, we know that you’re a mom of three who are almost all grown: 23, 21 and 18. Has doing this work changed how you parent? Or are there things you’ve learned along the way that you wish you had known or understood when your kids were younger?
Stephanie: Absolutely! 100 percent.
First, and foremost, I’ve realized it’s so important to be good examples in this area! Even though we sometimes think otherwise, our children do listen to and watch us. They know if we are always on a diet, they know if we’re unhappy with how we look, or if we’re always making negative comments about our own or others’ bodies.
In the research I’ve done, I’ve found that many times an important adult, such as a coach, teacher, parent, or other relative, is a major contributing factor in young people developing a negative body image. My own struggle began at eight years old, when my dad made an “innocent” comment about my body, so this is particularly significant to me.
I have always tried to speak to my kids about their bodies in positive, respectful ways, and focus on their abilities, strengths and the things they allow us to do every day.
I remember one day my then teen-aged daughter came to me upset that her thighs were bigger than mine. I’m 5’9”, she’s 5’2”. She is an amazingly powerful swimmer. I can barely keep myself from drowning. We talked about how much strength her legs have, how they help her glide effortlessly through the water, and carry her around all day every day of her life. We also laughed about the fact that she has a C cup and I don’t even fill up an A. None of these things has any impact on our value as women, as contributors to society, or as good friends.
And maybe a practical way to use this idea could be to have a family activity where together you create an inventory of all the things your bodies can do, and then put it up somewhere you can see it often. When we learn to focus on those abilities instead of the size or shape of our body, we can increase our confidence and our happiness for ourselves and for our kids.
Tina: I love that.
Serena: Yeah. So this is certainly something on my mind a lot as I raise three girls and knowing that many of us as parents struggle with our own body image, you know the statistics, what can we do to do better and not pass that along to our kids?
Stephanie: Well, in addition to the things we just talked about, talking. Talking, talking, talking. It’s an important conversation to start at a young age and keep it going. You might wonder, what do we talk about? Well I have a few ideas and of course it’s not an exhaustive list:
First off, talk about media, the deceptive tactics it uses, and the unrealistic images that are put in front of us. Our kids need to know the images they see in media and advertising are not real, but are created to sell products. We are swayed by these pictures even as adults, but they are much more impactful on adolescent brains. No one looks like those images, not even the models themselves. And if we refer back to the Cameron Russell quote, even if they did look that way, they don’t feel that way about themselves.
We can talk about normal body changes during adolescence and puberty --especially with girls if you have daughters. These changes can bring on a 20-30% increase in body fat. Females naturally gain 30-40 pounds between the ages of 8 and 14. Girls in that age range are gonna freak out when they start gaining fat and weight in hips and all the other things that are normal and natural. Fat is essential to our bodies for many reasons! You could do some research, and talk about THAT sometime. That’s a whole other fascinating thing to talk about.
Along with this, don’t talk about dieting, or put yourself on a diet. Instead focus on eating and feeding your children whole, healthy foods to feel better, have more energy and strength, and to support all the changes and growth their bodies are doing during this time.
Another fun thing to talk about and to do is move our bodies. We need to learn to be our body’s advocate and friend, not its enemy. Engage in physical activity for FUN, challenge, and growth, not for punishment because I ate too many cookies or something like that. When we can find activities that we enjoy doing and doing together as a family, or that you can support your children in doing, it makes it even better. Focus on learning skills, mastering a game or being able to run a certain distance or do a certain number of push-ups or something like that. Creating a habit of movement that will last a lifetime will help everyone. One of the best things you can instill in your children is how to be healthy and active lifelong!
And another idea. Lastly, talk about what true beauty entails, what enduring qualities and characteristics make someone beautiful to you? Who do you know that exhibits these? How can we try to grow into that kind of beauty ourselves? So those are just some of the things you can start the conversation about.
Serena: That’s great. Thank you. Thank you for sharing those. So, as you know, self-care is one of our very favorite topics on our podcast. So tell us a little bit about how you might coach parents on being able to focus on self-care while also taking care of their kids?
Stephanie: Yes. Self-care is very important! When you have kids it’s even more important and more difficult sometimes. I feel like we all know this intellectually, but because of our busy lives, many of us have a hard time actually making it happen. It’s the old story we’ve all heard so many times of putting your oxygen mask on first if you’re in the airplane and the oxygen masks drop down, loss of pressure, right? Or, another analogy is that we can’t serve soup from an empty pot. We can’t help others from a place of depletion. So it’s really important we take care of ourselves. But it’s difficult.
Sometimes this may require a bit of creativity, depending on your situation, responsibilities, and what resources you have. AND, it is totally possible and imperative that you find a way to do it.
The first thing to do is to know what self-care actually looks like for YOU. Personally, the typical suggestions of bubble baths or shopping do not feel like self-care to me. That’s torture. I can’t stand a hot bath for more than about five minutes, and I’d rather not ever have to go shopping! So, do a little brainstorming about what would feel enriching to YOU. This, in itself, can be a fun way to start feeling more in tune with yourself. If it’s been a while since you’ve thought about this, don’t be frustrated if you can’t think of anything. Ask yourself what you did as a child for fun, or what you would do with a day to yourself. You might not even be able to imagine that. Ask a friend what they hear you talking about repeatedly (and I don’t mean the copious amounts of laundry, or all the places you have to chauffeur your kids), but maybe those things that you talk about that you want to do or things that interest you.
Then, here’s where the creativity comes in. Choose something on that list that stands out most to you, and find a way to do it (or at least something like it), soon! It may require swapping out childcare with a friend, saving up some money, or finding a Youtube tutorial or something like that. Make it a point to spend some time with yourself on a regular basis, doing something that feels uplifting and replenishing to you. And, it doesn’t need to require a lot of time if you can’t clear out a whole afternoon or even an hour. Sometimes, just stopping for five minutes, doing some deep breathing, thinking about the blessings you’ve seen in the world today, or jamming out to your favorite song can work wonders. And, some days, that may be all the time you have. So just do what works for you.
Tina: So Stephanie, that is excellent advice for others and we are wondering how you personally approach self-care?
Stephanie: Like most women, this is an on-going process, that I am constantly trying to fine-tune because my life is crazy like everybody else’s. A couple of years ago, I really fell in love with the concept of nourishment. Usually we think of food when we think of this word, but it encompasses so much more than that. The definition of the word itself means things like: to foster, promote, encourage the growth of- such rich images come to mind for me when I hear those words. I created a framework for remembering all the ways we need nourishment.
Basically, we all need more PIESS! Who doesn’t love pie? I don’t love to make it but I love to eat it. So the ways we need nourishment are PIESS. These areas are physical, intellectual, emotional, social and spiritual. We have two S’s and that’s just fine because I made up the word. I try to make sure I am nourishing myself in each of these areas regularly. That doesn’t mean I do them all every day, or even every week, but I make it a point to review often how I’m doing, which areas may be neglected, and ways I can incorporate them better in my life. Of course, keeping in mind everything else I need to do in my work, with my family, and other responsibilities. It’s a daily practice, and an exploration of continuing to get to know myself.
One of the biggest needs we humans have is to feel seen, heard and understood. When we can give that to ourselves first, our capacity to share it with others increases substantially.
Serena: Yeah, that’s awesome. Thank you for sharing that and acknowledging the process, right? That we are all trying to figure this out and doing our best. Yeah. It's a daily practice and something that we continue to work at. There’s a concept that comes from the Institute for the Psychology of Eating that you shared with us in a previous conversation and we would love for you to share this with our listeners. So the concept is the idea of becoming a Queen. Tell us what that’s about.
Stephanie: This is one of my favorite things to talk about and when I first heard about it through the Institute for the Psychology of Eating it changed my whole view of myself and my world. This idea is based on the royal archetypes of the princess and queen, in regards to the stages women go through in her life. When we are younger, as women, we are princesses, we’re in the princess stage (and this isn’t meant to be a derogatory term, as is sometimes used in our society, like, oh what a princess, right?) and are more focused on what we look like, who we are becoming, how the world sees us and where we fit in. And it’s just a normal natural process. As we mature and grow and become older, kind of between the ages of 40 and 50, we become queens in training. We begin to focus more on who we are and have become through all our experiences and education, whether that was formal or just the school of life. We don’t have anything to prove to anyone, we become the owner and guardian of our queendom. We get to decide who we let in, what happens there, and how things are run. Queens are beautiful because of who they are, how they give to others and themselves, and the wisdom they have gained through the years. And as they ascend their throne, they get to be in charge of their queendom and what it looks like and how it is and I love that. A queen is not going to waste time wondering if she’d be more loved if she was smaller, her waist was littler, if she weighed less. She doesn’t care. She’s about running her queendom, giving back to the world all of the wisdom that she’s gained in her life.
Tina: Hmm. I love this whole concept and I must repeat a few of those lines. May I? May I do that?
Stephanie: Oh yes.
Tina: We don’t have anything to prove to anyone, and are the owner of our queendom and Queens are beautiful because of who they are, how they give to others and themselves, and the wisdom they have gained through the years. A queen is not going to waste time wondering if she’d be more loved at a smaller size.
Stephanie: Love it!
Tina: Well, me too. That’s why I repeated it and took a moment to have it sink in. For anyone out there who is interested in connecting with you Stephanie and learning more about what you offer, what’s the best way to connect with you?
Stephanie: My website is jointhebeautyrevolution.com. You can sign up there for a free connection call to learn more about my coaching and workshops. I also offer a free assessment to find out your Body Image Quotient, the BIQ, or where you are on your journey to discovering and embracing your authentic beauty. You can access that on my website, as well.
Serena: That is awesome. Thank you. So, we have one more question for you today. Knowing that so many women struggle with their body image and their self-esteem, what would you like to say to them? What do you want them to hear?
Stephanie: For me I think the most important message is to begin to tell yourself, You are NOT broken, and you DON’T need fixing! There is NO perfect body, and there is beauty in EVERY body. When you discover yours, life itself becomes more beautiful.
There’s a quote by Dr. Steve Maraboli which I really like. He says, ”There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful than a woman being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me, that is the true essence of beauty.”
Tina: Stephanie, my life is changed.
Tina: Thank you so much for joining us today and for the work you’re doing to put more positivity out there into the world. It is certainly needed and this queen sure appreciates it.
Stephanie: Thank you! I have so enjoyed our conversation today. Every time I speak those words they resonate more deeply with me too.
Tina: So podcast friends, we are, as always, grateful for all of you listening and supporting us. You can help us out by visiting Apple podcasts, leaving us a review, subscribing and please share with others. You will find more content on our website, NoNeedtoExplainPodcast.com. You will also find an email address and we would love to hear from you by email.
Serena: And this is your gentle reminder to take good care of yourself while you are also taking care of your people.
Tina: Thanks again for listening!