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 “Some Thoughts on Image”


Barbara Thompson

I love big hair – the bigger the better.  In fact, one of my most prized possessions is my hot rollers. That’s my secret to big hair!  When I travel, I even carry my hot rollers separately with me on the airplane. What if they were lost in my checked baggage?  I have visions of arriving in the city where I am speaking, standing at the baggage carousel watching it go round and round as all of the passengers hoist off their suitcases (to the delight of the chiropractic community). My fellow passengers depart one by one.  The carousel stops, empty, and I am left all alone.  And the thought hits me. Ahhhhhh!!!! My hot rollers are gone!

So I carry them with me and endure the strange looks as my carry-on baggage goes through the airport security x-ray machine.  “What is in that case, Mam?” “Why hot rollers, of course.  I never leave home without them!”

Yes, I love big hair.  I have had the same style since 1977.  But I decided it was time for a change (as if I haven’t had enough changes!). Change number 1 was having my surgery and losing 125 pounds.  Change number 2 was my facelift.  And change number 3 was getting my hair restyled.  My hair is now shorter and much straighter.  Each change had a major effect on me because each one has altered my appearance drastically. 

This whole experience has caused me to reflect on the importance of appreciating my external image. Even though I knew I would look better, letting go of what was familiar has been difficult.  Despite all the compliments I am receiving, I am not necessarily comfortable with so much change.

The same is true as you are facing weight loss surgery.  Although you want to look and feel your best, letting go of that old familiar identity can be disturbing and surprisingly difficult.  Not being able to accept this new image can cause some to sabotage their surgery by eating all the wrong foods. They are not yet emotionally ready to accept themselves as thinner people, even though it is what they might have dreamed about all their lives. Look for signs of this in yourself.

But there is another aspect of image called “self-image”.  Self-image is defined as “the conception that one has of oneself, including an assessment of qualities and personal worth.”  How you think about yourself and how you talk to yourself can affect everything in your life. When you say to yourself “I am so stupid for doing that,” or “I am never good at talking to people,” or “ I’m the one person that weight loss surgery won't work for,” you are setting yourself up for a bad self-mage. Many people go through their lives silently condemning everything they do.  After a while, your thought processes take over and everything that you said in your “self talk” becomes reality.  You may want to ask yourself if you want a negative reality or a positive reality.

I am so amazed at some of the email addresses I see.  People who are overweight actually give themselves addresses that include terms like “lead butt,” “fatty,” “lard,” "fat girl," and “slob.”  If someone gets email every day and their address includes one of these terms, what is that doing to their daily outlook on life?  It is almost like these people are extending their self-talk to everyone that sends messages to them.  But on the other hand, I see many great addresses that promote positive self-worth and self-appreciation.

Positive self-talk is very important in our lives.  If you want something, but your self-talk is saying you are not worth it, you may never get it. I love the hair product commercial that asks the question, why I should buy it? “Because I’m worth it!” And, you know what, we are ALL worth it.

For someone to succeed with weight loss surgery, they must learn to truly appreciate the new thinner external image of their body and at the same time, create a positive internal self-image by using daily positive self-talk.  Learning to appreciate our new image and creating a positive self-image are challenges that all of us must overcome.

By the way, now that I have straighter hair, guess what I saw on TV last night.  It was the first commercial that I have seen in many years for …… hot rollers!!!! Now that I have straighter, shorter hair, big hair is coming back!  Now, if being 125 pounds overweight comes into style and the medical community discovers that you really are healthier being morbidly obese, then I just give up!!!



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