A fairy tale about painting a positive self portrait and improving self-esteem and building body image
“Like hamburgers on the grill, teenage girls feel the heat and the pressure to squeeze every last ounce of fat from their bodies. If Claudia Schiffer can look so thin, so must they. If Naomi Campbell can be that slender, they can too. Why not?”
— David Leonhardt on improving self-esteem and building body image, from Climb you Stairway to Heaven: the 9 habits of maximum happiness
Somewhere in the land of low self-esteem and battered body-images …
After years of terrorizing the countryside, hunting deer, poaching livestock, killing game, Tiger grew long in the tooth. Finally, he knew it was time to retire. So he packed his bag: “Poor self-esteem? Check. Poor body image? Check? Poor self-image? Check. Self-portrait? Uh … oh, well, three out of four ain’t bad.”
Tiger ambled into town and came to stand before the Three Little Pigs Retirement Home Inc. He rang the bell, and the first little pig appeared on the landing above. “What do you want?” asked the little pig.
“I come here to retire,” Tiger replied.
“Ooooh. I don’t think so,” the little pig declared. “You’re not like us. You’ve got big teeth. Very dangerous. We can’t let you in.”
Tiger, having poor self-image, went to the dentist to improve these apparent deficiencies, and had his teeth removed. The next day, he returned to the Three Little Pigs Retirement Home Inc. “What do you want?” asked the second little pig.
“I have no more teeth. I come here to retire,” Tiger replied once more.
“Ooooh. No, no, no. That just won’t do,” the little pig exclaimed. “You’re different. You have sharp claws. You scare us. We can’t let you in.”
No teeth, no claws, no self-portrait
Tiger took his poor self-esteem and even worse body-image to the manicurist and had his claws removed. The next day, he returned to the Three Little Pigs Retirement Home Inc. “What do you want?” demanded the third little pig.
“I have no more claws. I come here to retire,” Tiger repeated.
“Ooooh. Let me see,” the little pig muttered as he disappeared from sight. Tiger heard much whispering and commotion behind the big wooden doors. “Okay, come in,” said the little pig.
Tiger strolled through the doors, and there stood the three little pigs, grinning ear to ear. Suddenly they jumped on Tiger. Squealing with delight, they beat him up and sent him packing. No teeth. No claws. Yippeeee! Finally they got even with Tiger for terrorizing the animals.
Tiger should have known better. He should have accepted who he is and not try to conform to someone else’s image of him. What tiger in his right mind lets a pig paint his portrait? He should have painted a self-portrait instead.
Do you seek to improve your body or your body image? Do you seek to improve your claws or your nails, or do you improve your self-esteem? What do you see when you look in the mirror?
So, who paints your portrait?
(Adapted from the motivational self-help book Climb your Stairway to Heaven: the 9 habits of maximum happiness. The book includes two chapters dedicated to improving self-esteem and two chapters dedicated to building self-confidence.)