Paperback: 272 pages
- Could not connect to Twitter
The Woman in the Mirror:
How to Stop Confusing What You Look Like with Who You Are
Cynthia M. Bulik. Walker, $16 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-0-8027-1999-7
An alarming number of American females don’t like what they see in the mirror, writes Bulik: by the time girls are ready for high school, half of them hate their weight and shape—and their self-esteem has taken a precipitous dive. Bulik, a psychologist and eating disorders specialist at the University of North Carolina (Crave: Why You Binge Eat and How to Stop) paints a disturbing picture of the distorted lens through which many American women, from girlhood to old age, view their bodies. She also offers a guide to untangling the mess, based on controlling negative self-talk. With a section devoted to each part of the life cycle, Bulik includes examples of struggles women can identify with. For example, for college-age women, there’s a plan for healthy eating, and a graph to help young women become aware of the events (“mean-girl behavior”) and situations that foster negative self-esteem. Bulik encourages such inventories to “capture your thoughts” and become “a critical observer of your own thinking and… behavior.” It’s a pain-for-gain challenge to self-awareness that may be the only hope we have to change a troubling trend.
“In this timely study, Bulik (Psychiatry/Univ. of North Carolina; Crave: Why You Binge Eat and How to Stop, 2009, etc.) examines why the female ‘inner struggle with identity and self-esteem’ often manifests as an obsession with bodily imperfections.
She posits that the main reason why women attempt to ‘fix’ themselves with diets, cosmetics and surgery is that society has led them to conflate self-esteem with what she calls ‘body esteem.’ The latter should only be a minor component of the former, but social pressures on women to conform to unattainable ideals of beauty reverse the relationship so that how they look physically becomes the primary way by which women judge their total personal worth. The author first looks at how females of all ages view themselves and their bodies. She encourages readers to take inventory of the negative feelings they may have accumulated at various stages in their lives, and she offers practical advice on how women can regain control of their lives and end the harm they do to themselves both physically and emotionally. Females must cultivate strategic awareness of negative self-talk—not only what it is, but when and where it arises—while also nurturing ‘the inner coach.’
Not a panacea for all women suffering from poor self-esteem, but Bulik offers hope that freedom from the unrealistic ideals of beauty can be achieved through disciplined self-scrutiny and a will to change damaging ways of thinking and being.”
Writing Through Rose Tinted Glasses
…Overall, it was an interesting and insightful read, and while it gives a general spectrum on the juxtaposition of body image and self-esteem, it bears mention that it makes you think about the societal issues and impact that comes with it, as well as how to address them in order to live a healthier, happier life.
For the full review, visit http://rosepetals1984.wordpress.com/2012/01/25/review-the-woman-in-the-mirror/
By Cristin Runfola 5.0 out of 5 stars
Marrying personal with professional experience, Dr. Bulik brilliantly presents relatable content to all–the 14 year-old transitioning to high school; the mother of two; the grandma in a nursing home; the father of a teenage girl going through puberty; and the therapist helping his/her patient overcome body image and self-esteem issues. You’ll walk away from this book with greater perspective about the pressures faced by women today, and factors involved in women’s tendency to erroneously conflate body esteem with self-esteem.
With her wit and imaginative genius, Dr. Bulik provides the insight and tools needed to develop body confidence and self-acceptance; improve self-esteem; and realize that each and every one of us has a unique contribution to give to the world. You’ll not only learn how to tackle your own body image demons, but you’ll develop the confidence to successfully raise a self-assured daughter and respectful son, as well as efficiently “climb the ladder” in a male-dominated society. This book is for all–mothers, fathers, teenagers, college students, feminists, non-feminists, middle-aged women, the elderly, and therapists.
As a psychologist specializing in eating disorders and body image issues, I have already started referencing this book in my work, using Dr. Bulik’s analogies and stories to highlight the success of CBT, and assigning readings to stimulate discussion. It has been well-received thus far!!
Reflections on The Woman in the Mirror
“Bulik has absolutely exposed the ‘can’t- talk about it’ cultural factors of life for every female in the US, if not beyond. The Woman in the Mirror is a wonderful book, written in language that speaks to all, and should be a bedside guide for women and girls of all ages and the men who love them. It’s a favorite of mine and a serious must read.”
~ Lynn S. Grefe, President and C.E.O. of National Eating Disorders Association
“Bulik magnificently brings together the foremost issues, through the human lifespan, in relation to eating disorders. Her practical advice grounded in evidence-based research and coupled with the experience and wisdom of a woman, mother, teacher, and clinician give the reader an untethered look at the reality of how both our biology and environment lend to these devastating disorders. Bulik also offers hope by presenting examples of individuals, programs, and organizations that are vested in prevention, treatment, and recovery for the millions of individuals and families confronted by the harsh reality of eating disorders across the spectrum of age, gender, race, size, sexual identity, and socio-economic status. Brava!”
~Chevese Turner, CEO, Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA)
“For a variety of reasons, Doctor Bulik explains, some women are obsessively concerned about their physical shape and appearance; many of them believe they are woefully wanting in spite of every effort to reassure them and prop up their relentlessly negative self image. This book suggests reasonable and practical ways to defuse this kind of destructive thinking, most notably a wider involvement in the world and all that goes on in it. Pursuing new areas of interest, engaging in new communities and cultivating new skills all take effort and even for some women, courage. Bulik’s solutions for diluting destructive self absorption will be helpful both for patients and the doctors who try to help them find happier, more productive lives.”
~Marianne Legato MD, author of Why Men Never Remember and Women Never Forget
“Dr Bulik combines good science and good sense in her highly readable book. The Woman in the Mirror is all of us, and this compelling account of how feelings about our bodies affect us throughout our lives is filled with inspiration and hope. Food for thought indeed.”
~Susan Ringwood, Chief Executive of Beat, the UK’s leading charity supporting people with eating disorders and campaigning with them
“In ‘Through the Looking Glass’, Alice finds a world where opposites and impossibilities abound. After many misadventures, Alice tires of the absurdities, and in her frustration, shakes the Red Queen (the most ludicrous character of all) to suddenly return to the sanity outside the Looking Glass. In our world, women face impossible images of what we should look like and who we should be. In her book, The Woman in the Mirror, Dr. Cynthia Bulik shows us the absurdities by which we live – worrying about body image, trying to match unrealistic standards, and beating ourselves up because we cannot achieve what we do not see as ludicrous and impossible. With her keen scientific intellect, comedic wit, and remarkable prose, Dr. Bulik not only outlines the forces that helped us internalize these images but provides us with the skills needed to shake our own Red Queen, defeating those negative self-images and embracing the wonderful reality of who we are. The Woman in the Mirror is a must read for every woman who ever thought “If only I were……..”. And really, isn’t that all of us?”
~Deborah C. Beidel, Ph.D., ABPP, Professor and Director, Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, University of Central Florida
“Dr. Bulik has crafted an elegant, educational, insightful, and suprisingly entertaining depiction of the body image battleground that most girls and women face during their lifetime. Supported by Dr. Bulik’s oustanding knowledge of the scientific literature, this book serves as a call to action – one that invites girls and women to join the growing movement to enhance body esteem and put appearance concerns back into their appropriate and less central place. Highly recommended.”
~Carolyn Black Becker, PhD, FAED; Professor of Psychology, Trinity University; Clinical and Scientific Director, Reflections: Body Image Program www.endfattalk.org
“An alarming number of American females don’t like what they see in the mirror, writes Bulik: by the time girls are ready for high school, half of them hate their weight and shape—and their self-esteem has taken a precipitous dive. Bulik, a psychologist and eating disorders specialist at the University of North Carolina (Crave: Why You Binge Eat and How to Stop) paints a disturbing picture of the distorted lens through which many American women, from girlhood to old age, view their bodies. She also offers a guide to untangling the mess, based on controlling negative self-talk. With a section devoted to each part of the life cycle, Bulik includes examples of struggles women can identify with. For example, for college-age women, there’s a plan for healthy eating, and a graph to help young women become aware of the events (“mean-girl behavior”) and situations that foster negative self-esteem. Bulik encourages such inventories to “capture your thoughts” and become “a critical observer of your own thinking and… behavior.” It’s a pain-for-gain challenge to self-awareness that may be the only hope we have to change a troubling trend.”
~Agent: Richard Curtis. (Jan.);Nov 21 issue of Publishers Weekly http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-8027-1999-7
” To disentangle self-esteem from body esteem, according to Bulik (psychiatry, Univ. of North Carolina Sch. of Medicine), women need to identify and control their negative self-talk and treat themselves with respect. This is no easy task: society pushes the idealized role of princess onto girls, extols impossible images of perfection such as youth and thinness, and engages in appearance bullying. The problem is compounded because women also tend to play out power struggles and achievement on the appearance battlefield. Bulik helps women identify the cues and triggers for self-criticism and set up fat-talk-free zones. In the last chapter, she emphasizes taking steps to build the self-esteem of girls. Bulik has a life-changing message for women and delivers it well. ”