Please welcome licensed marriage and family therapist, Amy Kelly! Amy currently works in the Bay Area with children and teenagers. I’m honored to be able to share her perspective on body image with you today.
In today’s society our perspective and ideas about the body can be so easily distorted. We go shopping and see clothes hanging from a hanger and wonder to ourselves “how would that look on me.” Although this is a very normal phenomenon I wonder about what happens each time we do this. Is our body more than an accessory to hang clothes on? Are we just walking hangers? Are our bodies objects to be manipulated to suit fashion, is this their greatest purpose?
When we start to see our bodies as objects only, we become more and more disconnected from ourselves. Our bodies are in fact not coat hangers whose purpose is to be manipulated to suit fashion. They are truly our only homes. We are born into our bodies, our bodies carry us through youth and adolescence into adulthood and old age. They take us running, they take us on dates, they take us to celebrations. They make us feel ticklish feel delighted dancing to our favorite song and feel pain. A hug with our loved ones can be the best medicine of all sometimes. This is the importance of physicality, connection, and our bodies. When we start to view the body as a clothes hanger only, we lose connection to ourselves. Our world is fast paced. We live in a society where disconnection is readily available. Why would society encourage us to disengage or disconnect from ourselves and our bodies?
The amount of money spent on fashion in the U.S. each year is currently estimated at 250 Billion dollars. The annual global fashion industry revenue is 1.2 Trillion dollars. To top it off in 2015 weight loss companies will earn $935.4 Million in profit according to a report from IBISWorld. The growth rate of the industry is expected to hit $8 Billion by 2020. Their profit is based on selling an idea that in order to fit in, to feel good, to be upheld and admired we need to see a certain number on a scale and wear a certain size pant. It is financially extremely lucrative and advantageous for these industries to have us believe that our bodies’ main purpose is to be an object which we need to starve and distort in order to fit their standards.
Now I am not saying that fashion isn’t fun or that it doesn’t feel good to have a body that feels strong, capable and comfortable. I just don’t think this is the only purpose of our bodies. Think of a time where you felt connected to your body. This could be through an exercise class, through meditation, going on a hike, hugging a loved one, lifting a child in the air, eating a home cooked meal. How were these experiences for you? Does the amount of time you spend thinking about your body connect you more to yourself, or do you instantly think about your body’s “imperfections” and how to change those?
Our bodies are our only home we will ever have for our whole lives. In order to live a conscious, connected, and meaningful life we must see it more than an object. If we objectify ourselves it impacts things like self-esteem, self-worth, and love. We set ourselves to continue a pattern of objectification in relationships and only further hurt ourselves emotionally. If you want to feel loved and confident, to feel seen as a whole person you need to start that by loving yourself. So take a moment to think about your body, your home. What is your relationship like with your body? Are you more than an object to hang a small sized dress on?
Amy Kelly is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy. She graduated from UC Davis with a BA in Psychology, SF State with an MFT in Clinical Psychology and completed CE with the American Academy of Pediatrics. Amy is a member of CAMFT and is featured on Psychology Today Profile and GoodTherapy.org.
Most recently Amy was the Upper School Counselor at one of the Bay Area’s top K-8 schools, San Francisco Day School. She is currently a school counselor at Fusion Academy in Marin where she provides individual therapy to children and teenagers as well as training to staff and presentations at conferences.
Amy has also worked in private practice at the San Francisco Counseling Center and at Haight Ashbury Psychological Services where she also served as a board member.
She started her career as a teen counselor at St. Vincent de Paul Society in Melbourne, Australia. She later worked as a child and teen counselor at College Track, San Francisco where she helped at risk youth succeed within the public education system. While completing her master’s degree, she worked as an intern at HeadStart in San Francisco where she served as a child therapist for preschoolers who live below the poverty line. The common thread throughout Amy’s career is her passion to help children of all ages find inner strength and succeed.