Dear Melody: Can You Give Me a Positive Take On Acne Scars?
“Monthly Matters with Melody” is a monthly advice column by Dr. Melody Moore, a clinical psychologist, yoga instructor and the founder of the Embody Love Movement Foundation. Her foundation is a non-profit whose mission is to empower girls and women to celebrate their inner beauty, commit to kindness and contribute to meaningful change in the world. Dr. Moore is a social entrepreneur who trains facilitators on how to teach programs to prevent negative body image and remind girls and women of their inherent worth. Her work has been featured in the books Yoga and Body Image and Yoga and Eating Disorders: Ancient Healing for Modern Illness, as well as in Yoga Journal, Yoga International and Origin Magazine.
What’s your #1 tip for developing a healthy body image in your daughter?
I love this question. Thank you for asking it, and for being invested in the healthy body image, and therefore self-image, of your daughter. My #1 tip is to develop your own healthy body image. Your daughter is paying close attention to the words that you use, to the ways that you nourish yourself, and to how you treat your and other’s bodies and relationships to food. If you want to do your part in supporting your daughter’s healthy self-esteem, cultivate your own.
In your speech, say positive things about the way that you look and feel, or keep your criticisms to yourself. Your daughter hears your critiques as being about her, too, even if you can’t imagine that she would do so. She is yours, so she sees herself in you. It is also important that you say only positive things about others, too. If she hears you making judgments about the appearance of others, she is likely to feel as though your evaluation of her worth is also based on how she looks.
If you nourish yourself, allow yourself to eat foods that sustain your energy and well-being, she will have a model of what it looks like to be caring and loving to her own body. If your activity and movement are motivated by love, by pleasure and by fun, versus an effort to “get a workout” or “burn off that dessert,” your daughter will have an example of how to intuitively move in order to play and feel alive. Your best bet is to feel alive in your own body, to care for your body and to celebrate it. Then, your daughter will also have an example of how to develop these qualities in her own relationship to herself.
Can you give me a positive take on acne scars?
Acne scars, like any perceived imperfection, are a part of your appearance. They are not your appearance. And more importantly, they are not you. Likely, your perception of these scars is far worse than what people outside of you see, but your hatred of them may make them feel as though they are the only, first or biggest aspect of you that others see, or that you see.
The extent to which you can appreciate all of the parts of you directly correlates with your capacity to surrender the importance of a particular feature, including acne scars. If you were to allow yourself to recognize your unique qualities and characteristics, your history, your personality, your temperament, your skills, your abilities, your way of being in the world that is unlike anyone else’s, you might be able to minimize the value that you place on how much the scars impact your overall sense of self-worth. They are a part of you, in that they are something that you have, but they are not you. They are not who you are, they are simply an unwanted outcome of a physical manifestation of stress, or hormones, or genetics, or a combination of factors that you had and have no control over mitigating.
The scars are now there. You cannot change that, so the question becomes: can you accept that they exist and still find ways in which you feel beautiful, powerful, hopeful, successful, acceptable and worthy? To give the scars too much power is completely unfair to your overall well-being. In order to accept them and move beyond them, you will have to stop wishing that they were gone. To allow them means you also can allow for the other truths about you, that you are so much more than these scars.
How does your body redistribute weight once gaining weight back to a healthy BMI? Any tips on what to expect?
Congratulations on choosing your recovery. You are going to be so grateful to yourself for making this brave decision to live and to nourish yourself. Your body is unique, and the ways that your body will regain the weight are individual too. Know that your body is doing its best to work for you, to benefit you, and so the ways that it is going to function come from a biological drive to protect your health.
When your body was losing weight and entering starvation mode, you may have lost enough mass that your body began to feed off its own muscles for energy. Because your vital organs are actually muscles, your heart and other vital organs may have begun to shrink or to shut down. Therefore, as you first put weight back on your body, it may hold the weight around your vital organs in order to ensure their functionality.
The vital organs all live in your trunk region, which may mean that your weight tends to be around your torso as you first begin to weight restore. This is especially true if you are an adolescent, less so if you are an adult. However, after your body trusts that you are going to maintain a healthy weight, the weight will redistribute itself to your extremities, and away from your torso.
I get it. This can be very triggering. Often, those who struggle with body distortions are extremely uncomfortable with the way their mid-body looks during this time. Know that this is a time of transition, and that it is temporary. My hope is that you hang in there and allow your body to catch up to your mind by giving it time to heal itself and redistribute the weight to your whole body.
Have questions for Dr. Melody? Post them in the comments below!
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