Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
From the prevalence of eating disorders to the increase in plastic surgery, Rabbi Shmuley says modern America is creating a new generation of women who look in the mirror and hate what they see. "To be a woman in America today is to feel a permanent sense of inadequacy," Rabbi Shmuley says. He offers reasons why women today have such distorted body images and offers solutions to this problem.

Why Women Have Body Image Issues:

  • The media: Glossy magazines and TV shows that showcase models and actresses with unrealistic bodies and pornography that objectifies women contribute to the demise of women's positive body images, Rabbi Shmuley says. Because of the media's influence on our world, human attraction has become mostly visual, and that puts pressure on women to have perfect bodies, Rabbi Shmuley says. "Once a woman was attractive because of five things: her voice, her scent, her ideas, her feelings and her looks," he says. "Today, it's only looks."
  • Men: Many men buy into the idea that "thin is in" when it comes to women's bodies, Rabbi Shmuley says. While some men still think voluptuous and curvy is beautiful, their eyes are trained to seek out thin women. "Men no longer make love with their hands but with their eyes," he says.
  • Economics: Companies selling surgeries, creams and injections all profit from people feeling bad about their bodies, Rabbi Shmuley says. This type of "soulless capitalism" feeds into women's bad feelings about themselves so they will buy more products, he says.

Solutions to the Problem:

  • Stop buying into the media. Save your money and don't buy the glossy magazines that make you feel terrible about the way you look, Rabbi Shmuley says.
  • Don't compare yourself to other women. Stop measuring yourself against women you consider younger, more beautiful and more glamorous than yourself. "Identify your gift, your uniqueness that you have that no other woman has, and gain confidence through it," Rabbi Shmuley says.
  • Insert yourself into a healthier environment. Don't hang around shallow men who reduce women to "all cover and no book," Rabbi Shmuley says. Also, spend your time in more spiritual and knowledge-based environments, such as church, continuing education classes and charity events. "Be in a place where your mind and heart are appreciated and where that constitutes part of your attractiveness," he says.
  • Look in the mirror and learn to love yourself. Force yourself to look in the mirror until you begin to like what you see, Rabbi Shmuley says.
  • Discuss your body image issues with your spouse. If you are married, you need to be honest with your husband about how you feel about your body. "The more you get it out of your system, the more you'll be able to examine it in the light of reason and see that it's unreasonable," Rabbi Shmuley says.

Today's Shmuleyism
"Every woman in America is affected by a feeling of inadequacy that they are never young enough, thin enough or pretty enough. Women must counter that irrational and destructive impulse to ordinariness by identifying the unique gift that only they have and which the world needs in order to be perfected. Find your gift."
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