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Where did “Perfect” come from? And what is a “Perfect Body” anyway?

February 22, 2011

By Lori Hanson

With all the talk about the masses of women who hate their bodies on a daily basis, and living with my own self-hatred for over thirty years. I decided to do a bit of research to see what the origin of “perfect” was. I mean how did we get stuck on thinking we are supposed to have a perfect body anyway? I decided to do some research into the origin of “Perfection.”

Merriam-Webster defines Perfection as:

1  the quality or state of being perfect: as a : freedom from fault or defect : flawlessness b : maturity c : the quality or state of being saintly

2 a : an exemplification of supreme excellence b : an unsurpassable degree of accuracy or excellence

3 : the act or process of perfecting

The examples provided by this dictionary are:

  1. She has achieved a rare perfection in her playing.
  2. His poetry is pure perfection.

Hmm…don’t see anything about bodies or body type here. So I checked out Wikipedia. The modern-day dictionary. And here is what I found.

Perfection is, broadly, a state of completeness and flawlessness.

The term “perfection” is actually used to designate a range of diverse, if often kindred, concepts. These concepts have historically been addressed in a number of discrete disciplines, notably mathematics, physics, chemistry, ethics, aesthetics, ontology, and theology.

I don’t see anything here related to body shape and the way we were born, do you? But check this out, also from Wiki:

The oldest definition of “perfection”, fairly precise and distinguishing the shades of the concept, goes back to Aristotle. In Book Delta of the Metaphysics, he distinguishes three meanings of the term, or rather three shades of one meaning, but in any case three different concepts. That is perfect:

1. which is complete — which contains all the requisite parts;

2. which is so good that nothing of the kind could be better;

3. which has attained its purpose.

Hello women and men of the world — Newsflash! “Perfect” and “Perfection” do not have any origin that relate to the human body. Notice these definitions talk about scientific things, talent and “completeness” or being complete.  These are things that dare I say for the most part can be proven to be complete or perfect.

Our bodies come from mother nature (or God as you prefer). The beauty of a human body is in the eye of the beholder. It’s subjective! When I was younger and very bulimic, I used to think that when the guy I was dating told me how much he loved my curves he was just saying that. Because after all, all guys wanted a Barbie figure girlfriend…didn’t they? It never occurred to me at the time to think about Marilyn Monroe and the other women before me who had curves and were appreciated for their curves long before Twiggy came along and the obsession with the waif figure started.

So how the heck did we wind up here? Glamour’s recent survey says that 97% of women have at least 13 “I hate my body” moments every day. Self magazine surveyed and found that 75% of American women have an unhealthy relationship with food and their body. There are lots of things we can blame. But how do the media, the magazines and the fashion models hold our attention so strongly? People are buying magazines, listening to news and tabloid shows and believing what is put out there as the gospel truth even if it is that you have to be “Hollywood Thin” to be perfect.  The media can’t hold power over you if you don’t buy into it!

And that’s only part of the issue. The American diet also contributes to this issue because most people don’t eat balanced nutritional meals which results in depleted amino acids required by our brains to properly function. Guess what? When you are low in serotonin it contributes to obsessive thinking, depression and low self-esteem just to name a few things.

Whether you are a teen battling with peer pressure every day. A college student trying to figure out how to excel at everything and impress your boyfriend, girlfriend or friends with how many things you can do perfect. Or if you are a young woman or mother trying to carrying on the torch of superwoman, or a busy father or executive working around the clock to prove your worth…I got bad news. You’ll never reach perfect.

I would propose to you that “Perfect” as it relates to your body and achievements in life is a state of mind. Hmm, think about that for a minute. What if your body is totally healthy and like me you’re only 5’1″? Are you imperfect because you are shorter than other people? Ya, ya I know, now its vertically challenged, instead of short. What if you are seemingly too tall for your muscle mass and people call you thin or skinny? Are you imperfect?

What if you are a guy and you aren’t as big or tall as other guys, does that mean you’ve got to go to the gym and bulk up to be cool or…perfect?

Does your dog compare itself to other dogs at the dog park or on walks and look at you and say, “Mom, how can you stand me? I’m smaller than the other dogs, or my hair is short and bristly, I wish I had a think coat of hair like a Malamute.” No! Of course they don’t. Dogs (and the rest of the animal kingdom) know that it’s not about the package you were born in. This package is who you are and what makes you unique (apologies to identical twins!). It’s only the wrapper that we arrived on this planet with to cover our beautiful muscles, arteries, veins and bones.

Now…if there are things about your looks that you would like to change, how many of them can you control? If you need to lose a few pounds, are you capable of eating healthier, balanced meals and getting off your butt and exercising? (hint: yes) If you don’t like the color or texture of your hair can you change it? You definitely have options here.

If you want to be taller can you change it? No. But is it the end of the world? Will you never amount to anything because you’re short, or tall? Well how about owning it? Accept the things you can’t change and own it as unique. I regularly remind people who good things come in short packages and that I was born in the month of Thanksgiving. Own it!! You are special just because you’re here.

One last thing to remember, your body keeps you alive. It carries you around every day and takes you where you want to go and helps you do what you want (or need) to do. How often do you thank your body? I’m serious! How often do you stop, look in the mirror and thank your face for that beautiful smile, your arms for helping you carry things, your legs for the ability to exercise, drive a car or ride a bike. And when is the last time you thanked your body for all the maintenance it does at night while you sleep? If you haven’t why not start today? There are many people who lost their ability to do these things and are living in wheelchairs. Yet, they do incredible things. It’s all about your perspective and the lens you are viewing life through.

So, let’s make a commitment to stop striving for perfection, because it doesn’t apply to your body and doesn’t compute. A perfect body to one person is a way too thin to someone else, it’s subjective, a matter of opinion. There is no right or wrong.

Do yourself a huge favor, take five minutes today to talk to your body and thank it for keeping you here and taking care of you. Love the body and the skin you’re in! It’s the only package you get in this life and if you love and appreciate it, you’ll quickly see how awesome it is. Repeat after me, “I love my body! I love me, My body rocks!”

It’s National Eating Disorder Awareness Week this week. Take a minute and donate whatever you can to help us make a difference on college campuses and create a world free of eating disorders


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