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Self-objectification.

Whether you are familiar with this term or not—Im pretty confident in saying we’re all familiar with the concept.

Technically defined self-objectification is defined as when we choose to evaluate ourselves based on appearance because that’s how we believe others adjudicate us.

(many believe that the media plays a large role in teaching us to do this—but that’s a post for a different day).

MizFit defined it’s when we see ourselves as an OBJECT first and a person (a being who is enough simply by BEING) second.

MizFit defined it’s seeing yourself through someone elses eyes & allowing that to color (or cause you to lose completely) your perspective on yourself.

There’s no debate, however, that self-objectification results in body shame, self-loathing, depression and low self-esteem.

This wasn’t an idea I thought much about (in such a specific ‘theres a name for this!” way) until a few years ago upon reading a quote by Francis McDormand.

(Im paraphrasing here as Ive never been able to relocate the actual quote)

Getting older is a challenge because the young boys no longer look at me.  Getting older is great because I no longer see myself through young boys’ eyes.

Although the Great & Mighty Oprah has somewhat mitigated the power of the phrase that quote was, indeed, and Ah Ha! moment for me.

I’d never before stopped to consider the fact I was self-objectifying (for me it more took the form of seeing myself through my female peers’ eyes with regards to career. different but the same.).

And, after that day, I vowed never to view myself through *anyone* elses eyes but my own.

Period.

Was I immediately successful? NO.

Did it take lots of ‘catching myself in the act, STOPPING and forcing myself to rephrase a negative thought?’ Fo’ shizzle.

Has it now (after almost 12+ years) finally become a habit? Hell to the YES!

I was reminded of this pivotal life-moment last weekend each time friends asked what gift I was giving myself for my birthday.

Quite frankly I couldnt think of a thing I wanted to gift myself greater than that which I already had.

Nothing has been more freeing, empowering and allowed me to blossom more than allowing my opinion to be the only which  matters.

So now I throw it all back at you.

What would disappear from your life—-no matter your gender—-if you stopped viewing yourself as an object?

How would your current day-to-day living change?

And, if you’ve been fortunate enough to already have stopped, what was the biggest mental hurdle you had to overcome?

Please to hit us all up in the comments.

Ill join you there.

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60 Responses to “Self-objectification.”

  1. Bea says:

    I don’t know if it is self-objectification or not but I can take forever to get out of the house to go anywhere.

    I think and rethink my outfit and try to think what others will be thinking about how I look.

    If I lost this behavior I would get hours of my day back.

    • Michelle @Eatingjourney says:

      lose it. there’s nothing more amazing and beautiful then someone in clothes…that has a more beautiful spirit. So shine through your clothes lovely..JUST GLOW!

  2. Runner Girl says:

    I had not heard that quote before and can’t imagine a time now (I am 24) where I wouldn’t see myself through other people’s eyes first and then my own.

    I wonder if I would know where and how to evaluate myself if I did.

    That makes me sad.

  3. Michelle @Eatingjourney says:

    Oh my heavens..I want to chat over coffee w/ you forever about this.

    This is why I binged. This is why I struggled. This is why women hate their damn bodies, hide in the dark during sex with their partners and are always dieting.

    Life isn’t meant to be lived through other people’s eyes. We have to find our own source of high fives, praise and you know what…DESERVING!

    I deserve to feel good about myself. I deserve to sing my praises. I deserve to pat myself on the back. I deserve to live the life I want.

    I love this post

  4. Annie says:

    AWESOME POST, Miz, and why I keep coming back to your blog.

    I can learn how to work my biceps many places LOL I need to learn how to work my brain while I do so.

    Can you write more about how you worked your way to only valuing your opinion?

    I am far too caught up in other peoples vision of me.

    Annie

  5. JourneyBeyondSurvival says:

    You rock.

    It has taken me years to get as far as I am down this road. I’ve had circumstances throwing me farther along the way. Believing in and seeing me is so much better than objectification. ‘They’ used to have a lot of power in my life, dictating almost everything I do. Not anymore.

    I want to get where you are! To work and love!

  6. Leslie says:

    Great post.

    I am where you are Miz and for me it was purely a result of having a family and not having the time to obsess any more.

    I need to focus on others and have less time to think about what other people may be thinking about me.

    It’s a good thing LOL

  7. Nan says:

    I love this and can relate to it except the moving past part.
    I know for me I fit the stereotype of more worrying about what other women think and not much caring about the men (sorry Francis :) ).

    I long to move to a place where I dress, eat, and THINK for only me.

    Any tips to that end, MizFit?

  8. Carly says:

    Great post Miz. I needed to read this today.

  9. Cammy@TippyToeDiet says:

    Awesome post on an oh-so-necessary topic. I’m still journeying on this road, but I’m miles from where I was. Like you, I had the career perspective worries in addition to all the physical appearance stuff. I help myself re-focus by asking myself what makes me happiest and most useful to the planet. It’s certainly not a job title or an oops! shade of lipstick.

  10. Aubry says:

    I think what I like the best is how you point out we can selfobjectify in other manners than looks.

  11. Miz says:

    good morning! now you all have me thinking (already. its only 530a here) precisely how I got to where I am today.

    what my journey and process was to climb to where I am right now.

    post coming.

    book coming.

    **throws open arms and embraces all that awaits her today**

    • Beth says:

      I am so glad you responded to the comments asking “how did you actually do this?” It is such an engrained habit for me. I would love to feel the freedom you are describing. Please do share the wealth in a follow-up post. I for one am already looking forward to it! Thanks Miz, great topic and one that is not discussed much in this way, ie. there is actually a term for it:)

  12. MrsFatass says:

    I would listen to my first response. My early morning when it’s still quiet voice, like I posted about today. I would trust myself to know what’s best for me.

  13. Tina says:

    I can certainly relate to this post. I have stopped judging myself as a person so much on looks in recent years and focusing on feeling good (although there are still of course weak moments), but after reading this I know I have also simply shifted my insecurities elsewhere. Am I a good enough mom through other people’s eyes is one I currently put on myself a lot. And that needs to stop too. Thanks for helping me to consider that. You really did.

  14. Evan says:

    This isn’t just a female topic either.

    It’s pervasive and in my opinion only getting more so with boys/men and looks.

  15. Karen@WaistingTime says:

    I certainly worry what others think more than I should. But interestingly, I don’t know what I would change, if anything, if I didn’t care. But I am going to ask myself this again,as I go through my day, because I see that it could be very freeing.

  16. debby says:

    Oh goodie. Something to think about today! Something I still do to a certain extent, but much improved in the last few weeks. I know for sure I did this growing up.

    Can’t think of what would disappear from my life though. Puts thinking cap on and goes out to face the day (in the dark-only 4:30am here, Miz.)

  17. Karen says:

    What would disappear? Middle aged angst.

  18. Roxie says:

    I believe a good deal of this thinking is internalized habit. Yes, just a plain old run-of-the-mill habit that can be broken just like biting your nails. It’s not magic, it’s not truth, it’s habit. So probably about 4 years ago, I set an intention (not a new year’s resolution) to treat myself with lovingkindness and to break this habit of regarding myself only as how I looked. I can’t say that I’m completely cured, but if I’m doing it, I give myself a mental snap-out-of-it and focus my attention on something else. The gain in peace of mind has been so rewarding.

    Still not perfect, still don’t have to be.

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this topic. I, too, could go on and on about it. Life changing work you are doing here, Miz.

    You are made completely of awesome.

  19. Sagan says:

    This is something I’m working on lots these days! Sometimes it’s difficult when looking in the mirror to NOT frown, but like you said it’s about being able to CATCH ourselves doing it and trying to shift our frame of thinking.

    It’s a slow process… but I can see progress just from the repetition of doing it.

  20. Jules - Big Girl Bombshell says:

    POWER-FULL. My problem seems to be the battle between my head and my heart. My head is the others opinions and the heart is what I know of ME…the NON object! Taking tiny steps each day toward the heart of me…and out of my head…is my path…

    I love the quote! AND it is so..so…true!

  21. Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman says:

    If I stopped caring what other people thought, I’d definitely have more time to sleep-and less to get ready-every morning. I’m not there at all, but I think I do care less about others’ perception of me now compared to high school or college. Being married has a lot to do with that I think.

  22. Joanna Sutter says:

    Great subject and yet a tough one.

    I would like to think that I don’t care how people see me the older I get…but this is one I struggle with. Some days, I don’t give a rat’s behind and other days I can be a crumpled mess of self doubt.

    I am a work in progress.

  23. Eva says:

    Not to get too Oprah ;) but I think what you posted about is just living your truth.

    When we get there (not here. I am not there yet) I believe we really do not care what any one thinks because it is our truth.

    I love your blog.

  24. Eva says:

    And I’d love a six steps to loving yourself post since you’re offering.
    Can it be distilled to that I wonder?

  25. Miz says:

    YES Eva. Id not heard her say that but reading your comment caused me to nod in agreement.

    it is a simply phrased as living one’s truth.

    and yes.

    post coming.

    I shall distill away :)

  26. dragonmamma says:

    For me, this happened as a natural side effect of getting older. When you’ve got a husband who, over the course of 25 years, thinks you look great whether you’re at your thinnest or your fattest, you really don’t care what other people think. Instead, you start thinking about feeling your healthiest.

    I’m sure it’s a tougher goal to achieve if you’ve got a non-accepting partner.

  27. Desert Agave says:

    I’m another one who does this with regards to career as well as physical looks. It is a tough habit to get rid of, that’s for sure. If I stopped doing it, I think my life would be filled with a lot less shame.

  28. Helen DoingA180 says:

    Sometimes you are right on time. This is the EXACT thing I have been working on releasing. Something about turning 50 (and menopausal, I’m sure) is making me less patient with not being My True Self.

    Self-objectification is simply exhausting. So I would look like a well-rested, bright-eyed, ready to take on anything person. Actually I am already starting to look like that.

  29. Femme says:

    Oh Good Lord. I actually can’t imagine how that would feel. I literally cannot think how my life would change if I stopped trying to be perfect. That desire, to be seen by my peers as the perfect EVERYTHING, colours my whole existence. I hadn’t realised quite how much until recently. Can’t wait to hear more!

  30. Joyce Cherrier says:

    This post really hit home for me. I’m going through a period in my life where I’m learning to embrace my age (I’m 48) and feel empowered by it. It’s a transition for sure. I love the quote from Francis McDormand.In a society where we are judged by how desirable guys think we are, I think as women, we have to look inside and realize that the only measure should be our own. So I’m striving to be the best I can be, instead of being concerned about wrinkles and gravity. Now it’s about putting energy towards investing time, effort and resources to being a better friend, mom, athlete and citizen of the planet. I’m realizing it sure is a lot more rewarding and fun! I just wish I had realized it sooner!

  31. Irene says:

    what a wonderful and timely post. I linked to it from today’s blog post if you don’t mind.

    I think I have reached the point where I don’t care about what others think of me, rather what I am trying to create for myself. The biggest thing for me was thinking I was “bad” in someway. And that comes from my mother telling me how useless I was and how she wished she had never had me. It took a long time for me to find my self worth. Once I was able to remove that objectification from my life, I began to see myself for what I realy am: a cool-ass person. :D

  32. Lizzie says:

    This post made me sad.
    I read it early this morning and it really hit me as I got dressed to go to work and was almost really really late because it took me so long to find something to wear.

    I wasn’t for me that I was obsessing and I don’t even know whose eyes I was thinking I was being seen though.

    I don’t value my own approval at all or think that if I think I look good it is enough.

    I can only hope I ever do.

  33. Julie says:

    I definitely self-objectify and have been doing it since my early teens.

    I’m just now realizing it (thanks to blogs like this one) and working to change my negative self-talk and love my body for the amazing things it does and not what it looks like.

    I’m starting to realize that I’m a worthy person no matter my looks.

    But I have a long way to go.

  34. Ryan @NoMoreBacon says:

    Well it looks like it’s going to be the 36th comment that comes from someone of the y chromosome bearing gender.

    We objectify. We don’t talk about it but we do it. Now while not all of us primp or mani or pedi in order to keep our look fresh, I know that I don’t leave the house without giving myself the once over in the mirror.

    Generally I think we compare ourselves with athletes or successful co-workers or business men.

    Simple things like driving a 7 year old Mitsubishi instead of a beamer can make us think things like “I’ll bet he thinks he’s better than me,” or makes park at the back of the lock where the “more successful” folks don’t see the kind of car we drive.

    I lived like that for a long time. I still drive a P.O.S. and I honestly don’t care anymore. It’s paid for. Material possessions and the presence or lack of a six pack aren’t things that define who I am.

    I really did love this post. It’s something I work on every day. It’s tough in a competitive world to not compare our physical appearance, efforts, failures and successes to others. Especially because much of the outside world is making comparisons.

    Here’s to “never viewing ourselves through anyone else’s eyes but our own.”

    • Brandon says:

      I agree with Ryan totally - as men, we might not talk about it as much, but we still self-objectify with the best of them.

      It’s hard not to compare yourself to others, whether it’s in terms of looks, money, or how fast you can run.

      This is still something I definitely struggle with a lot, even though I KNOW it’s something I need to let go of. I guess part of it is just human nature, no matter how self-destructive it may be.

  35. Lynn C says:

    Oh jeez. I just burst into tears reading that.

    “Nothing has been more freeing, empowering and allowed me to blossom more than allowing my opinion to be the only which matters.”

  36. CertifiablyFit says:

    This was such a thought provoking post. I think that I have made some progress in this area but I know I have quite a bit more work to do on this. Thanks so much for this post, it has brought to my attention I need to focus on working on this more often.

  37. Emma says:

    I am with the other commenter who said this made her sad.

    How about just a post with a first step??

  38. Loretta says:

    “Nothing has been more freeing, empowering and allowed me to blossom more than allowing my opinion to be the only which matters.”

    My first “wow” of the day response. Hadn’t thought of it that way.

    Yet, I feel some of that freedom from worrying too much about other’s opinions. Sure, I have some of it, but not near so much now as when I was younger. I actually feel free now to be ME, to be different, to explore what I am really about.

    Ha ha, sounds like I am ancient.. but funny thing, INSIDE, I feel youthful!
    Thanks for a very thought-provoking post!
    Loretta
    =^..^=

  39. Kate says:

    We have a saying in our house that, “God doesn’t make junk”. So when I, my husband, or one of our girls looks at a God-given characteristic in an unfavorable way, that reminder pops out of one of our mouths. I’ve been promised that I was, “fearfully and wonderfully made”. If I see myself through God’s eyes, rather than man’s (or woman’s), I’m golden. I wish I could have done that in my teens…

  40. Skyler Meine says:

    I think this was a monumental change for me that happened naturally as I gained more confidence and self esteem. I really think this is such an important subject to address, but maybe more importantly to learn how to overcome.

  41. Lori (Finding Radiance) says:

    It’s so hard sometimes not to think about what other people think of you. Part of that for me stems from growing up overweight and constantly being picked on in school. It’s hard not to view yourself in the light that others constantly tell you out loud. Then you just assume that everyone thinks that way about you.

    In the last few years, I have really gotten so I don’t care what other people think (or what I perceive them to be thinking). This has allowed me the freedom to go out in spandex and sleeveless in public because I feel like it LOL!

    (BTW - shabby apple emailed me :D )

  42. Laurie says:

    I’ve been away and just catching up on my blogs. I saw your bday poem from Ms. FA and wanted to wish you a very happy birthday! I told her I want to be her second favorite Jew! Now, I shall go read about self-objectification (sounds like a Social Work/Therapy term I’ve read about)

  43. Pubsgal says:

    This reminds me of a quote from Diane Ackerman: “What do those of us who aren’t tall, flawlessly sculpted adolescents do? Answer: Console ourselves with how relative beauty can be… Thank heavens for the arousing qualities of zest, intelligence, wit, curiosity, sweetness, passion, talent and grace.”

    I don’t self-objectify with looks as much as I did when younger. I don’t know if it’s being happily married with family, or in my 40s, or being too busy dealing with the stuff of life. Although, admittedly I spent many years just not looking at myself *at all*, never mind through other people’s eyes. I don’t think that was a healthy thing; I was using my obesity as a “cloaking device”. Now I am mindful of how I look *to myself* and am (mostly) content, although I would never measure up in “their” eyes. (Whoever “they” are, anyway.)

    This seems to have extended somewhat to other areas people have mentioned, like parenting, career, and material stuff.

  44. rebekah (clarity in creation.) says:

    gahhh i’m so pumped you wrote about this! it’s SO true! we’re almost expected to see ourselves like this today. so sad! our mom’s wouldn’t have wanted that for us.

  45. Katdoesdiets says:

    Oh goodness. Big can of worms. I don’t even know where to begin.

  46. Jody - Fit at 52 says:

    Tough post for me Miz!

    This: What would disappear from your life—-no matter your gender—-if you stopped viewing yourself as an object?

    I don’t view myself as an object BUT I love being fit & muscular & the responses I get, especially from women that want to empower themselvs with that too.. BUT, as you know, I feel that muscular part is me…. I still have to get where you are now…. it is one of the most difficult tasks in my life….

  47. Cynthia (It All Changes) says:

    So as not to turn my comment into a book the biggest thing that would be gone is my need to always look pretty when I go out to eat. I don’t think it’s okay for me to go out when I’m just in my gym clothes. Because I don’t feel good enough.

  48. Janell says:

    This is a beautiful post, Carla. Really beautiful and such a great last thing of my day to read — dog in crate, work done, sleepy.
    I may be half-way there at age 54. I don’t remember when exactly I realized I was different due to “creepy toes” but having them and the disease behind them that made me feel so different caused me to feel less than. I was one of 5 kids, the only one born with a disease, the only one to have a spouse die, the only one to have a cancer diagnosis and I have spent so much time wondering why me? So i guess if I stopped viewing myself as an object a lot of the “why me” stuff could disappear. And the self-judgement that causes me to judge myself for judging others. I don’t know if any of this makes sense but the self-judgement has always been a pain in my butt and in turn, I feel since I was born ‘defective’ that I have a right to judge others as defective. (I do not feel that way now though I grew up granting myself that entitlement and thinking I was okay with it.)
    Bad juju. Is that a judgement? Most of the time when something not so great happens to me now, I figure “who better than me?”
    I’m the one with great courage.

  49. Liv says:

    Such a well timed post Carla.
    I’ve been grappling with this concept in my last couple of sessions with my therapist.
    And there is an interesting balance between getting ready for the day and making an effort for yourself, and worrying about others.

    There is certainly so much more to validate oneself than size but our physical presence and the way we feel about that are so interconnected in our projection into the world.

    Look forward to you sharing your journey in reaching this point. Will it really take me 12 years?!

  50. Hallie says:

    Such a moving post and a good reminder to this blogger that short posts can be powerful :)

    I still use others as my yardstick for self-esteem but I am work to change that day by day.

    Thank you for helping me do it.

  51. Kat says:

    yes. yes. yes. working on this…

  52. Elba Davis says:

    There may be clearly rather a lot to learn about this. I believe you made some good factors in Options also.

  53. karen@fitnessjourney says:

    I could literally write reams on this subject, but I’ll spare you! I’m still working on this one. As someone whose own very attractive mother did,and still does, value looks like they are something we have control over, it’s taken many years to get past the notion that taking steps to look perfect at all times is a good use of time. Thankfully, I have a very loving, supporting husband there to remind me that a generous nature, good sense of humor and hard work are far more important traits.

  54. paula says:

    Can I just say THANK YOU FOR THE QUOTE. I’ll be turning 48 next month and if you asked me what is hard about getting older, I would have to say becoming invisible to the opposite sex and in general.

    I needed to hear this quote. Luckily, I really like who I am and who I’ve become. It’s true… 40s are the best.

    Luv your thinking Miz

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Tweets that mention Self-Objectification | MizFitOnline -- Topsy.com - 21. Jul, 2010

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by carla birnberg, Pamela. Pamela said: A must read! RT @MizFitOnline: New post: Self-objectification. http://mizfitonline.com/2010/07/21/self-objectification/ [...]

  2. If Not A Binger…Who Am I? « Eating Journey - 22. Jul, 2010

    [...] looked at her and then thought back to Miz’s post about Self-Objectification MizFit defined it’s when we see ourselves as an OBJECT first and a person (a being who is enough [...]

  3. Links from the Week of July 19 « My Thunder Thighs - 26. Jul, 2010

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