Our Bodies are Not an Image | Mary Jelkovsky | TEDxCherryCreekWomen

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In a society surrounded by pictures, videos, and social media, body-image concerns continue to be on the rise. 96% percent of women report wanting to change their body in some way which shows that this is not an individual problem of low self-esteem, but rather a collective disconnect with how we see our body-image. Girls and women especially are bombarded with images of so-called “perfect bodies” that are often unattainable without going to extreme methods of weight control. Failure to achieve this “perfect body” can cause decreased self-esteem, feelings of unworthiness, or even an eating disorder. Although many people have spoken up about the importance of positive body-image and body positivity, Mary Jelkovsky explains how this approach can be a double-edged sword. Instead, she offers an unconventional approach for healing body-image struggles, building self-confidence, and cultivating unconditional self-love. Mary Jelkovsky (known as @maryscupofteaa on social media) is a former bikini fitness model turned self-love advocate and women’s retreat host.

After recovering from an eating disorder of 8 years and healing her body, mind, and spirit, she started her online platform Mary’s Cup of Tea, to inspire women to be more confident in their bodies and love themselves unconditionally.

Mary’s story has been featured in publications like Teen Vogue, Women’s Health, and Self Magazine because unfortunately, so many women know what it’s like to hate their bodies. Mary is committed to changing this trend by empowering women of all shapes and sizes through her social media, online programs and worldwide self-love retreats.

Mary’s biggest inspiration is her spunky, 11-year-old sister Ilana who knows how to dance like no one’s watching and love with her whole heart. Mary wants Ilana to grow up in a world where women are empowered to chase their dreams without being bogged down by beauty standards. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx <br> <h3>Auto Generated Captions</h3>

[Music]
[Music]
[Applause]
four years ago a cup of mocha changed my
life let me take you back to when I was
just seventeen years old I had just won
a trophy at a major bikini fitness
competition one of the largest in the
country this was me I prepared for this
competition for six months I worked out
every single day I dieted hardcore and I
thought that revolving my life around
Fitness would help fix my poor body
image struggles but it only made things
worse well everybody was telling me how
great I looked how fit I was how
dedicated I was my mental health was
just falling apart and I was obsessed
with anything that went in my mouth that
was not on my diet even if it was just a
handful of almonds what nobody knew was
that behind this perfect bikini body was
a broken girl that was completely
obsessed with her weight have you ever
been in this position have you ever been
obsessed with your weight or how your
body looks in general unfortunately too
many of us struggle with not liking how
we look some of us we go to extremes
like I did and some of us we want to
change a few things you know a little
tighter here a little smoother they are
a lot thinner everywhere but not too
thin of course because curves curves are
in ladies and gentlemen but only here
and here but nowhere in between so flash
forward to a few months after this
bikini competition I get a mid-afternoon
text from my mom want to meet for coffee
at 12:00 she asks sure I’ll be there
soon I replied and as I’m driving to go
meet her I get another text from her it
says sitting outside I got you a mocha a
mocha a mocha
how could she the calories the sugars
the dairy didn’t she know that I was on
a diet I’m driving I’m so angry and as I
pull up to the cafe my mom who’s sitting
outside she sees me
crying runs over to my car door tries to
open it but I wouldn’t let her in no mom
I just can’t believe you’d get me a
freaking mocha I screamed as I closed
the door and drove away feeling
instantly ashamed how I just lashed out
on her as I’m driving I’m having one of
those ugly cry moments you know it’s
like what Oprah refers to when you’re
crying so hard you can’t breathe you got
snot coming out of your nose it’s not
pretty like the movies it’s really ugly
that was me in that moment and at this
rock-bottom I get another text from my
mom it says this that’s the real text I
just want you to know that I love you
very much and I am here for you anytime
you need me as I read the words on the
screen I paused I finally stopped crying
I took a deep breath so relieved that
she had already forgiven me and I let
myself feel her love because my mom
loved me when I couldn’t love myself in
this moment I also realized that my body
image struggles robbed me of so many of
life’s beautiful experiences I mean what
should have been a lovely coffee date
with one of my favorite people turned
into an absolute disaster because of my
fears about food my body image took away
from so much of me and I missed out on
so much of my life because I was too
busy hating myself have you ever felt
like you missed out on your life maybe
you didn’t go to the pool party because
you don’t want to get in a swimsuit or
if you did go you didn’t take your
clothes off to go in the water because
you don’t want people to see you or you
spent the party obsessing over the
calories in the cookie instead of
spending it connecting with your friends
and loved ones I’ve been there one too
many times I mean I missed out on the
little things like baking cookies with
my little sister she’s in the audience
right now and I missed out on the big
things like
my graduation parties where I was too
scared of the calories and the cookies
so I didn’t go
and also my grandfather’s 70th birthday
party where my grandma had cooked all of
this delicious food and I refused to
have a single bite because I was on a
diet and we usually use this term body
image quite a bit but what does it mean
we usually use body image to describe
how we feel about ourselves particularly
our bodies and because of rising
concerns and negative body image
struggles a lot of people have tried to
help girls and women especially feel
more positively about their body image
this idea of body positivity has become
really popular lately let’s all feel
really good about our bodies and like
how we look which is great it’s
definitely a step forward but what if
all these this hyper focus on our bodies
image whether it’s positive or negative
is actually what’s causing all the
insecurities discomforts and lack of
confidence in our bodies in the first
place I mean we already live in such an
image driven Society somebody even
called our generation the selfie culture
so not only do we see our own image
reflected back to us in the mirror when
we’re getting ready in the morning but
we also see our image in a selfie if you
happen to be into that but if not you
also see everybody else’s selfie and
usually it’s their perfect picture
perfect selfie on social media every
single day I mean it’s no wonder that
96% of women report feeling unhappy with
their bodies or wanting to change
something 96% 96% of us struggle with
body image but our bodies our bodies are
not an image they’re an experience and
they’re a beautiful experience so we
cannot keep letting our body image ruin
our life experience
afternoon after getting that loving text
from my mom I realized the true cost of
my obsession with my body image missing
out on my life and I also made a
decision to change my life I made a
decision to not only heal my own body
image struggles by actually not focusing
on my image and instead just living my
life and I also made a commitment to
help any woman who’s ever hated herself
shift her focus and changed her life
actually I have an exercise for you that
it’s a simple three-step process that’s
scientifically proven to help you do
just that shift your focus and get out
of those negative thought patterns
anytime you’re feeling not good about
yourself
so the first step first you’re gonna
pause just like I did when I got this
text pause and face what you’re feeling
I mean it’s so easy to deflect and push
away and try to avoid the situation how
many of us stay busy just to avoid what
we’re feeling so guilty but the
difficult thing to do is to pause next
breathe and this part’s really important
as you breathe focus your energy and
attention to the area around your hearts
this is going to help shift your focus
from your mind from those negative
thought patterns to your hearts towards
unconditional love for yourself so as
you breathe just picture sending all
that energy to your heart space and
lastly let yourself feel the love and
notice how I said light yourself because
a lot of us we say just love yourself
but that’s a lot easier said than done
you first have to give yourself
permission to feel your own love and
give yourself some compassion think of
at least one thing that you can
appreciate or you love about your body
or yourself in general talk to yourself
as if you’re your own mom or best friend
pause breathe and let yourself feel the
love
actually let’s all do this together not
to put you on the spot or anything but
wherever you’re at just straighten up a
little bit
and now pause right here with me take
this moment for yourself and now take a
deep breath and as you breathe picture
sending all that loving energy to this
area around your heart and now let
yourself feel the love and think of one
thing that you can appreciate about
yourself right now how did that feel so
the next time you don’t feel so good
about yourself maybe you don’t like how
you look that day or your hair is not
cooperating with you or you’re just
struggling with self-worth in general
remember to pause breathe and let
yourself feel the love because in doing
so you will turn those lowest moments
into your greatest strength in fact I
was actually preparing for this exact
talk at that same cafe while happily
sipping my mocha
[Applause]
[Music]

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