In a world where women are constantly bombarded with images of “perfect” bodies, it can be challenging to feel good about yourself. Society often idealises women’s body types, and many are left discouraged about these issues. This often causes depression, low self-esteem, and in some extreme cases, suicide.
Thankfully, certain individuals like Lesley Goth, PsyD are working to change this narrative. Lesley Goth is an experienced and licensed clinical psychologist on a mission to make women unapologetic about themselves and love what they see in the mirror.
She encourages women to eat and still love their bodies irrespective of social factors that might bother them. Her work has helped empower women worldwide and make them feel confident in their skin without conforming to the social programming that often tells them otherwise.
In a recent interview, Goth shared her thoughts on the topic of body positivity among women. This article will share some of her insights and how they can help you feel better about your own body.
Sharing In the Experience And Trauma
Like most women, Lesley Goth grew up with the same issues, messages, and programming. She was discouraged about her own weight and appearance, and it led to years of negative self-talk, disordered eating, and self-hate regarding her body image. It wasn’t until she was in her forties that she finally started to love her body.
“It took me a long time to get there, but I’m so glad I did. When I was a young child in middle school, I received messages and programming about how a woman’s body is supposed to look. This led me down a path of low self-esteem, looking for love in all the wrong places, and very disordered eating behaviours. This was a continuous challenge for me.
However, I started doing a lot of soul-searching throughout graduate school, especially studying for my doctorate. It made me realise that growth, healing, and change happen in a process. When I finally hit my 40s, I dug deeper into my self-worth and confidence around my body issues and discovered something truly transformational. It was hard work, but it’s so freeing.”
The seasoned psychologist says most women feel alone and helpless with this challenge because they think they are the only ones feeling this way, but she wants women to know they are not alone in this battle.
“Most middle-aged women (myself included) feel discouraged about their body shape and what they see in the mirror. Body image plagues most women, and it is a true epidemic. I want other women, who have received the same, similar, or worse messages to be freed from this oppressive mindset of perfection, beauty, and success,” she further says.
Solving Eating Disorders Among Women
One in five women will develop an eating disorder at some point in their lives, and it is often tied to feelings of low self-esteem and body dissatisfaction. Goth is working to change this by encouraging women to love their bodies no matter their size or shape. According to her, the first thing to do is identify that there is “no problem” with how you look.
“The best advice I give my women is to stop trying to lose weight! I know this sounds ironic, but the real work first happens internally. It is all about facing your fears of doing the necessary work of being free from expectations of looking a certain way or having a perfect body type to be sexual and successful.”
Goth also shared other tips. They include:
Facing Your Fears: Facing your fears is the key to success. If you’re afraid of being seen as sexual or successful, then you’ll never be able to achieve those things. Or, if facing the deeper wounds within feels too daunting, it keeps you stuck in a prison of shame and self-loathing.
Identifying Your Triggers: What are the things that trigger your negative thoughts about your body? Is it certain foods, people, or situations? Once you identify these triggers, you can start to work on healing and letting them go.
Healing Attachment Wounds And Unprocessed Trauma: If you’ve experienced trauma or attachment wounds, it’s important to do the necessary work to heal them. This will help you move on from negative thoughts and behaviours.
Once all these problems are addressed and honoured, everything will start falling into place, and you’ll start to see your true worth.
Tackling The Social Epidemic
Over the years, Goth has identified that two primary social factors contribute to the body image crisis among women. The first factor is society’s messaging and programming, which states that women must look in a specific way to be sexy, successful, happy, and fulfilled.
According to Goth:
“Women are bombarded from the early life stages (as young as elementary school) to grow up and be womanly. A woman needs to be successful, but not a bitch. She needs to be a great mom and be a superwoman without complaint. She is expected to maintain her body and look sexy but not attract unwanted attention. There are so many expectations that no woman can meet. It leaves so many feeling like they are just not enough.”
The other factor is the “message and programming” women get from their primary attachments growing up (that is, the mother and father). Most times, mothers who are constantly dieting or complaining about their appearance and fathers who are critical of women leave a deep wound on the child. The young girl grows up thinking, “If mom is not good enough, then neither am I.”
If there is any kind of abuse, neglect, or trauma at the hand of a trusting figure, this leaves a deep wound of not being good enough, self-blame, shame, needing to be perfect, and the need for control. This will often show up in a woman’s relationship with her body and what she sees in the mirror.
The family is the first unit of any society and the first contact of any growing child. If a young girl is not taught to love her body and appreciate it, the cycle of self-hate is bound to continue.
“Parents must teach their children, both boys and girls, about body love, healthy eating habits without dieting or food restriction, and how to have a healthy relationship with movement. It starts at home,” Lesley Goth says.
Diets are not essential for weight loss and can lead to more weight gain in the long term. Lesley Goth, therefore, encourages women to eat intuitively and learn to listen to their bodies.
You might be asking yourself why diets don’t work in the long term. The answer is simple: they are not sustainable. Diets are often restrictive, and when you restrict yourself from certain foods or food groups, it can lead to bingeing later on. This is why many people who diet end up gaining back the weight they lost, plus more.
“The best way to achieve any goal is by developing a healthy relationship with yourself. This includes learning to love your body, appreciate it, and take care of it without restrictions. This is a large part of what I teach! Our bodies have the intrinsic wisdom to know what it wants, how much it wants, and when it wants it.
But society and upbringing have trained us to watch the clock to know when to eat, to finish all the food on our plates, and not to eat “bad” food. Mindful eating eradicates all that. Although it is not easy to give up the diet mentality and learn mindful eating, it is essential if you want to have that healthy, confident, and comfortable connection with your body,” Goth shares.
Lesley concluded the interview with this;
“I think the world would be a better place if women loved their bodies and stopped apologising for taking up space. I would love to see women being unapologetically themselves, whether in how they dress, how they wear their hair, what they choose to do with their time, etc. Women should not have to apologise for being who they are. This is why I bring a unique blend of knowledge to the table where women can find healing from emotional wounds and trauma and finally find a healthy relationship with food and their bodies that they deserve.”
Body image is a sensitive topic for many women. If you are struggling or feeling helpless with your body image, know that you are not alone. Seek help from a professional like Lesley Goth, PsyD who understands the struggle, and start working on developing a healthier relationship with your body today.
Lesley Goth, PsyD is on a mission to help women be unapologetically themselves and love what they see in the mirror. She encourages women to be themselves, heal from their trauma, and be free from the shackles of society and social media. Sign up for her masterclass* here to learn more about how you can love your body and achieve a healthy relationship with food.