Something amazing is happening in the world of advertising. Have you noticed the larger bodies images? All sorts of products are using all sizes of models. No longer almost exclusively the domain of the thin ‘perfect’ body, I now see realistically sized women (and sometimes men) in many images.
This is wonderful.
Wonderful for the millions of people who thought this was how they had to look. Because being thin = healthy perfect successful gorgeous, and somehow ‘good’, all in that image of slimness. When I say perfect, I mean thin in the right places with muscle in the right places too, particularly for men. Goodbye to this definition and good riddance.
The separation of health and body size has been slowly happening in the US (for example see Health At Every Size), only recently has it really gathered momentum here.
So let’s be really clear about this – you can be in a bigger body and healthy, and you can be in a smaller body and unhealthy. Thin does NOT (always) = health. In fact being underweight for your frame is really not good for longevity. Neither is yo-yo dieting.
Likewise, having a poor body image can affect anyone, whether small or larger. Poor body image means low body confidence, probably low self-esteem, and is likely to impact overall wellness of body and mind. Who isn’t affected in everything they do say and think, when constant negative abuse is running through their own minds about their size? And possibly facing external discrimination too. Relationships, families and social life, movement and hobbies, work, seeking medical treatment …… every domain of life can be damaged by poor body image.
This is why the recent liberation of bigger bodies is so important. It may take a while, it may not be full mainstream yet (I suspect it will take the film industry a while). But positive changes are happening. The last area of ‘legitimate’ discrimination is slowly on its way out. Thank goodness.
However, if you are thinking ‘all very well but I want to feel better TODAY’ then read on, I have some ideas –
- Take any clothes in your wardrobe that don’t fit you now and hide / recycle them. Leave only what you can actually wear now. If this means buying 1 or 2 new clothing items that make you feel at least OK, budget allowing, then so be it.
- We need to switch the focus from how our bodies look to what our bodies do. When you get into bed at night, before you turn out the light, think ‘what did my body do for me today?’ and thank your body for that. Maybe are grateful for the arms that hugged your children, or the feet that took you on that walk, that prepared the meal. Don’t forget your mind too – your amazing brain is enabling you to read this now. Thank you brain.
- And how about a morning acceptance practice – as you shower or dress, is there 1 area of your body that is acceptable to you? Your toes, your wrists, your eye, your hair? Focus on that, relish it, and tomorrow find another area. Try to build up to bigger body parts slowly.
- Another change of emphasis from size to health can be helpful. g, wanting weight loss is about denial and the future. Being healthier and showing yourself some self-care through how you eat / move / sleep / manage stress can start right now for most of us. Can you make 1 food switch today that shows your body some respect? Can you get to bed 15 minutes earlier? Can you breathe a little calmer while reading this?
- Starting today, stop judging other people on how they look. Don’t praise weight loss and don’t encourage others to do so. This reinforces it, and then how awful do people feel when putting on weight knowing no compliments will come their way. How about complimenting someone’s personality, values, actions? Then watch the ripple effect unfold.
- Can you find someway to move your body that makes you feel good? Don’t call it exercise if that scares you, no need to formalise it. Can you move in a way that your bodyand mind respond to – perhaps swimming, gardening, hoovering, walking? And if you connect with others in doing this, even better.
Changing thoughts and ideals ingrained in us isn’t easy. However, remember awareness is the 1st step to change. Take it one step at a time.
Imagine how much more headspace you would have for life if you didn’t spend a large chunk of the day hating your body – how liberating – how energising – how exciting.
I have some further resources to help
Read – Living with your Body and Other Things you Hate – Emily Sandoz & Troy DuFrene
Want to know more?
I offer a free 30 minute chat to anyone with no obligation to sign up.
I help women who want weight loss, weight gain, or to accept where they are now.
I help women who want to feel good about themselves, calm their anxious minds, nourish their bodies.
I help women who want a better, healthier life, through taking care of themselves (and maybe their families)
How can I help you?
I remember the night Pi Society launched in a stunning, beautifully lit venue on the Exeter quay-side. It was an unforgettable night; spent in the company of friends & well-known business leaders from across the city.
A deep sense of optimism filtered through the room; the 100 or so guests, mingling with ease and a natural fluidity in an atmosphere rooted in anticipation. The energy, undeniable.
Nicky Dunn, the founder & woman behind this much anticipated new venture, took to the stage with confidence & a natural charm that connected with and touched hearts throughout the room.
At this point, I had known Nicky for a few years, initially having met her at a leadership development course in Exeter. At the time, I was working with Rugby World Cup on a legacy project for RWC2015. My background as a writer had attracted the attention of legacy leads and World Rugby senior leaders. I was leading a truly purposeful legacy, working with colleagues throughout the professional game and loving life.
On meeting Nicky, I instantly saw something special; an elegant charm paired beautifully with proven business & leadership skills. Time in her company had an energising effect, nurturing a sense of respect & trust.
Over the following six years, as our careers developed and grew, she became a strong presence & support within my professional network. I interviewed her several times in my role as Editor in Chief of a leading growth-focused business magazine. And, with great pride, I named her as one of the 100 most influential businesswomen in Exeter in 2018.
Four years later, with a podcast, over a hundred interviews with high performers, and an ICF coaching qualification under my belt, it is my absolute pleasure to join Nicky in the next phase of Pi Society.
This Autumn, I will be supporting Nicky as she moves her business into Bath & Bristol. Two exciting areas of development for Pi. Both of which hold a special place in my heart, with my two eldest sons graduating from UWE & Bath next year.
A clear and natural path
While I may not have identified or foreseen it, looking back, there has been a clear and very natural path to this point.
Through my work, I have been privileged to watch the growth of some truly exciting brands.
When asked about the key to that growth, my answer is clear.
In my experience, it lies in creating a solid foundation.
- As a leader, your vision for the company must align with your deepest values. In addition, your team must also align with and have a clear understanding of that vision from the start.
- The team culture you develop has to allow for growth and be rooted in support & respect.
- Ensuring that the needs of each client are valued and deeply understood is paramount. Spending time truly understanding the needs, desires, and hopes of your clients & team is paramount in developing any brand.
I know I also speak for Nicky when I say that this understanding, rooted in positive psychology, forms our personal & professional foundations.
It is these very values and understandings that also lie at the heart of every successful relationship.
I am honoured to be supporting Nicky & her team as they build on the success of Pi Society, bringing my skillsets & leadership qualities to the table, and letting the hopeless romantic in me run wild in the process.
I believe that we are all capable of stepping into our optimal selves. And that taking chances, investing in our growth & releasing limiting beliefs are integral to showing up as our best selves.
While you can do this alone, sharing the ride with a partner who has your back and who loves you intimately & deeply for who you are now, as much as who you may become, is one of the most precious gifts.
That genuine, soul-mate love is within reach for us all.
Backed by breakthroughs in science and the understanding that we can actively alter neural pathways in our brain, I know it is.
However, I am also very aware that life, and the intrinsic journey it takes us on, can at times make us weary and doubtful of finding love, leading us to focus instead on its absence.
My role with both Pi Society, and in my private coaching practice, is to ensure your focus remains on possibilities and the opportunities presenting themselves to you.
It is to transform lives through powerful coaching & conversation that ensures you find the love you deserve.
I look forward to meeting you, getting to know and understand you, and supporting you on your journey to lasting love.
Here’s to winning the inner the game and a successful match ahead.
Please click here to book in a 30 minutes introductory call with Tracey.
I come across totally amazing women in midlife all the time. They’re gorgeous, they’re fit and healthy, they’ve got successful careers, they’re independent and know how to do all the things.
But they can’t find a man – at least not one that meets their standards. And their standards tend to be high – after all – given they have all these things going for them, they should expect to be with a guy at the same level, yes? Isn’t that what they deserve?
For older men it’s a different story. The ones who are highly attractive, who’ve got their shit together, the ones with high status positions and great careers – they have no trouble at all finding a partner. In fact they have women practically queuing round the block to go out with them – and not just older women – they’re attractive to younger women too.
Not fair! What the hell’s going on?
Well, do you want the good news or the bad news?
I’ll give you the bad news first to get it out of the way…
The issue we women have in finding a man that meets our standards is to do with mate value – our mate value compared to that of the men we’re after.
Mate value is a measure of your appeal as a potential partner, and the higher your score, the bigger the number of options you have available out in the dating pool.
But mate value depends on different qualities in men and women.
The men who have high mate value are the ones with high status, guys who are intelligent, ambitious, with good incomes. These kinds of men, even when they’re older can be very attractive to a lot of women.
For women the biggest thing contributing to our mate value is physical attractiveness. Yes, lots of other things count big time, like intelligence, great personality and all the rest, but these things are mainly attractive for specific men. In terms of general attractiveness it’s the physical stuff that’s important for women’s mate value.
Being good looking is important for men’s value too but not so much.
So because men’s and women’s mate value relies on different qualities we get a reversal of the relative mate value of men and women in later life.
I call this the Mate Value Flip.
I want you to imagine a man and a woman…
The woman is a beautiful, willowy, 25 year-old. The man is 50-something, he’s pretty fit and good looking for his age and he runs a very successful business.
I think you’ll agree that both of these people have pretty high mate value – that is in terms of the number of people out there who find them attractive prospects.
Now imagine if you swapped their ages, so now the woman is 50-something and the guy is 25. Now how much mate value do they have?
For both of them their mate value would likely take a nose dive. The guy at 25 might be a gawky awkward bloke who couldn’t get a girlfriend, and the woman aged 50 something… well we know what happens to our general attractiveness don’t we, and it doesn’t really make any difference if she’s built a really successful career.
So this is the Mate Value Flip.
When we women are young, nubile teenagers or 20-somethings, we have all the balls in our court and it’s the guys who have to do the running. Young men don’t have the experience, status and wealth of older men, and so they’re at a disadvantage.
But men generally become more attractive as they get a bit older (assuming of course that they’re rising in status and are looking after themselves physically – not all men do), but we women start becoming less desirable in the general scheme of things, simply because our mate value depends on the thing that tends to be higher in younger women – physical attractiveness.
Hard to say when I first felt the flip – I suppose when I didn’t get wolf-whistled at any more. I think it was sometime in my 30s. Now I’m in my fifties I’ve probably become invisible to a good proportion of the male population!
The bottom line here is that attractive older men tend to have higher market value than attractive older women and so this can explain why you might not get the attention you want from these guys.
So… that’s the bad news.
Now I guess you want the good news!
The good news is it’s perfectly possible to find a great guy who is on a level with you mate-value-wise AND who will make you happy in a great relationship.
And the other good news is you probably don’t want the high mate value men in the long run anyway.
The thing is, a guy who’s good looking, wealthy, and so on; he’ll have lots of options but it doesn’t mean he’ll make those options happy. Having high mate value is not the same as having high value as a partner, paradoxically.
If a guy has high mate value he might not appreciate you and treat you the way you want – and there is actually research evidence showing that guys who are good looking basically aren’t so nice, and the same goes for wealthy men. They don’t have to try that hard.
These guys probably won’t make you happy.
But I’m not suggesting you settle for someone of lesser quality. It’s not about settling – it’s about reprioritising what you’re looking for. It’s about refocusing on the qualities that actually matter!
So, what are the really important things for a good relationship?
Well it’s stuff like is he kind? Honest? Does he care about your wellbeing? Does he try to improve your world? Do his values and dreams for the future align with yours? These are the things that are important for long term relationship happiness.
Really, he doesn’t have to be 6’5”, or have a full head of hair, or earn a six figure salary to be a great partner.
If he doesn’t have a ton of money – so what? That doesn’t make him a loser, he just might have different priorities, and often that will mean having a personality that’s better suited to a good long term partnership than someone who’s dominant and competitive.
And also it makes sense to go for a guy who values your unique qualities. Some men are really into confident, ambitious, driven women, for example, even if these things don’t give you a stellar mate value generally.
So that means you will have high value for the right guys for you.
The takeaway here is that holding out for prince charming is not a good strategy for happiness.
Yes, it might be tempting to go for the best looking, most charismatic, wealthy bloke you can find – and you’ll be the envy of all the women you know.
But that’s exactly the problem – if he’s such hot stuff he’s going to know that and he’ll be looking over your shoulder to see what else is on offer. Do you really want to get into a relationship where you constantly have to worry that other women are after your man?
Research shows that to have a happy healthy relationship, you really want to find someone of roughly equal mate value to yourself.
Having a partner who’s higher in mate value than you sets up an unhealthy relationship dynamic. You’re going to be feeling a constant pressure to demonstrate your worth, and to give more than you take.
On the other hand, if you feel you’ve “settled” and gone for someone that doesn’t match you in terms of mate value then you are the one who’s going to feel dissatisfied. You’ll be far less tolerant of small annoyances and imperfections, most likely wondering if you could do better.
But if you have the idea that you have a quality guy that you’re unlikely to be able to match by looking elsewhere, then you’re going to be keen to put a lot of effort into your relationship, you’ll work hard at making it work – and so will he if he perceives the same.
And that is the recipe for a great relationship.
The next step then is to decide on the personality traits that you need in a guy that will make you happy, and you need to think about your deeply held values that you need him to share.
These qualities are so much more important for the success of any relationship you have than whether he’s got a yacht, or a fancy car or has a hot shot career.
So have a think about the traits that are really important, and I’ll talk more about these issues in posts coming soon.
So good luck in your search for a good man!