09/25/2012 02:16 pm ET Updated Nov 25, 2012

Our Bodies: Perfect, Imperfect And Beautiful

Since I write a lot about positive body image, you'd think that I am well over the idea that weight should be something that I allow to define my life. Yet the vestiges of my past life as a woman obsessed with weight still linger. A good example is vacation pictures. If I show you pictures of all the places I have been in my life, I can give you minute details about the place itself, the food, the sights and the weather. I can also tell you something else simply by looking at those pictures: The exact number on the scale I was at that particular time in my life.

Sometimes my past catches up with me. I like to think of myself as a recovering weight-a-holic.

Weight and sizes are the bane of modern women. We may be intelligent, we may be highly skilled in our field, we may even have received awards for our accomplishments, but the idea that we are overweight can stick in our heads and overshadow all of that. Media phenomenon Oprah Winfrey and best-selling novelist Anne Rice -- both immensely successful and powerful women in their respective fields -- are no less concerned about extra pounds than the rest of us. Both have mentioned their "problems with weight" in interviews. These are women whom we admire and see as strong, determined females, yet when it comes to weight, they become one of the millions of women who also face the daily struggle of the pounds.

The fear of being overweight is a constant, nagging one of despair at not being personally successful in controlling your own body. What good is being in control of finances, major companies and businesses if you're not in control of your body?! Silly idea, right? And yet that is exactly the unconscious thought many intelligent women have.

Feeling satisfied with your appearance makes a tremendous amount of difference in how you present yourself to the world. Some women live their entire lives on their perception of their physical selves. But I've been there, done that. The hell with that idea! Personally, I became tired of living my life this way.

My friend is an art historian who specializes in the Renaissance period. Talking with him recently gave me a perspective on body image. As we walked through the permanent exhibit of Renaissance Art in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, he pointed out the paintings done of women.

If you look at these paintings, not one of the women can be called ugly or overweight, yet they are as completely different from one another as parakeets are to parrots. The fact that has always impressed me is that every one of them seems to be very comfortable with her body. Obviously the artists thought so, too, since they chose to celebrate the form of these women and immortalize them for all the ages. Women of today are no different, not really. Beauty is never simply one look or one size. Beauty is variety.

As I looked at the paintings, I had to admit that what he said was true. The women came in all sizes, all shapes. Some were curvier than others, but all were beautiful. Some had what we refer to as love handles; some had soft, fuller stomachs that had never suffered through crunches in a gym. Though I had seen them many times before, it was actually refreshing to view them in a new light.

Being constantly critical of your body image undermines your emotional health and creates a pattern of negativity that is hard to break. How can you hope to be happy when you start off everyday with a negative image of yourself?

We are led to believe our self-worth must be a reflection of our looks. So in essence, if we don't believe we look good, we assume we have no worth! Yet self-worth should have nothing to do with looks and everything to do with an innate feeling that you really are worth it. You are worth going after your dreams, you are worth being in a good relationship, you are worth living a life that fulfills and nourishes you and you are certainly worthy of being a successful woman.

There is a quote attributed to Michelangelo that I've always admired. When a friend complimented him on the glorious Sistine Chapel, the great artist, referring to his art in the feminine form, was said to have replied:

"È degno di ammirazione, semplicemente perché esiste; perfezione e imperfezione insieme."


"She is worthy of admiration simply because she exists; perfection and imperfection together."

I believe Il Maestro has said it all.

© 2012 copyright Kristen Houghton

"And Then I'll Be Happy! Stop Sabotaging Your Happiness and Put Your Own Life First" ranked in the top 100 books by Tower

Kristen Houghton is the author of the hilarious new book, No Woman Diets Alone - There's Always a Man Behind Her Eating a Doughnut in the top 10 hot new releases at Amazon available now on Kindle, Nook, and all e-book venues.

You may email her at