Struggles with body image seem to be the focus of many studies. With the rise in eating disorders, and the dangers they present, much care has been taken to help young adults reframe their idea of what is healthy. Most people seem to understand that using the word “fat” to describe someone is unkind and using it to describe yourself is unhealthy, but what about calling yourself, “old?” How does this description affect one’s self-esteem?
The Journal of Eating Disorders
has published a new study that found women in varying age groups, spanning from 18 to 87, did engage in what they termed “old talk” and that this behavior can make a person feel just as bad about themselves as if they called themselves “fat.”
“Old talk,” as defined by this study, is any speech that implies that an aging appearance is somehow bad or unacceptable. The women who reported engaging in “old talk” most often were also those who tended to have a previous diagnosis of an eating disorder and were generally less satisfied with their body.
The researchers, who were out of Trinity University in San Antonio, reported limiting their study to women because of their suspicion that the issue was not as relevant to men. It is not that men don’t also struggle with the ravages of time but society in general seems to allow for the more graceful aging of men. While men are often defined as “distinguished” as they age, women are expected to maintain a youthful appearance.
This is evidenced by the rise in the use of anti-aging procedures, such as Botox and plastic surgery, which women are subscribing to. While this is not necessarily new information, as these procedures have been around for a long time, what the study reveals is the roles our attitude and our verbalizations play in how we feel about the aging process.
The challenge with age is that each year that number increases, if we are lucky, and there is nothing we can do to cause that number to go in reverse. Unlike our weight, which we do have some control over with diet and exercise, our age is beyond our control.
The researchers suggest that just as you would strive to avoid calling yourself “fat” in an effort to feel better about your body, so too should you avoid calling yourself, “old” or pointing out the things about yourself that are aging. This effort is towards the goal of feeling better about your body image. There is nothing inherently wrong with aging and in fact, those who embrace the process tend to have much greater life satisfaction. It is our attitude about getting older that has the greatest effect on how we feel about how we look.
RELATED FROM AROUND THE WEB