A woman’s body changes at midlife as does her feelings about her body. Many women become unhappy with these changes while others find them freeing. Either way, how women choose to live in their bodies as they age is important to their health and well-being.
Body image is important because it lays the groundwork for both physical and emotional self-care women need at this time. If a woman fights her body, it can be harder to give it what it needs. And bodies speak up a lot during midlife demanding attention whether we women like it or not.
To help me find answers, I interviewed Hillary McBride who holds a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of British Columbia, as well as a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology. She works as a therapist and has advanced training in trauma, eating disorders, body image, and marriage and relationship therapy. She is the author of Mothers, Daughters and Body image, Embodiment and Eating Disorders, and the upcoming book This is My Body.
We talk about her book, the many facets of body image, and what this all means at midlife.
Highlights from the show
- The personal reasons McBride became interested in body image and the insights she’s discovered from her research.
- Why McBride studied what happens when women get things right in terms of body image instead of focusing on when things go wrong.
- The evolving definition of body image, its many facets, and why understanding its complexity matters.
- Neva Piran’s Theory of Embodiment is and its three domains.
- The key factor that made a difference with mothers and daughters who got a positive body image right.
- The important thing mothers without a positive body image did to raise daughters who loved their bodies.
- Key steps midlife women can take to untie the cultural narrative about looks and self-worth.
- The three important factors needed for a healthy body image: body movement, media literacy, and mindfulness.
- The different paths midlife women can take when it comes to their bodies and how these choices affect health and well-being.
- How to find freedom at menopause and discover positive ways of dealing with this developmental stage.
- How (and why) women benefit from looking at their body as part of their whole self instead of in fragments.
- The powerful practice every woman should do to improve her body image (you’ll need a mirror).
- The role emotional literacy plays in self-care at midlife.
Hillary McBride’s books:
Mother’s Daughter and Body Image: Learning to Love Ourselves as We Are
Embodiment and Eating Disorders
Schilder definition of body image
Neva Piran – the developmental theory of embodiment
Merleau-Ponty definition of embodiment
The Discourse theory around menopause changes in the body
A review study on body image being stable over time
Pearce 2014: review study on body image during menopause
Recommended books for emotional literacy:
Living it Like You Mean It: Use the Wisdom and Power of Your Emotions to Get the Life You Really Want
It’s Not Always Depression: Working the Change Triangle to Listen to the Body, Discover Core Emotions, and Connect to Your Authentic Self
Quote from the show
The more we are able to experience our body and the goodness of our body, things like pleasure, satisfaction, joy, energy, excitement, vibrancy, and a sense of connectedness, the more we’re able to know and trust our body and give ourselves the resources to sustain these experiences of vitality….This puts a little bit more weight on our experience. That way even if our appearance changes, we can still have access to joy. Even if our appearance changes, we can still have access to pleasure.– Hillary McBride
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