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When Our Brain Needs A Mentor

I subscribe to a number of newswire services that dump a new crop of body image and eating disorders articles into my inbox on a fairly regular basis.

Most of the time I just sift through, reading a headline here or there, maybe skimming a paragraph or two.

But last week, a headline caught my eye “Keira Knightley is rewiring my brain!” the title screamed.

“Uh oh,” I thought to myself. “That is not what I want.”

So of course I opened up the link and started to read.

The Galleria, all decked out to celebrate another year of artificial skinniness.

The fact is, these days I can barely force myself inside the doors of the Galleria, my city’s super-huge, super-famous shopping mall, so furious do I instantly become upon being forced to stare at endless stores with their needle-thin mannequins, so at odds with the hoards of curvier shoppers browsing their merchandise shelves within.

Pretty much the moment I enter the Galleria, or any larger shopping center for that matter, my brain starts in…

Who do they think they are?

NONE of those mannequins looks like me.

I won’t go in that store again until I see a mannequin who looks like me.

How did we let them get away with it for so long?

Well, according to ‘The Biologist’, a rather weighty scientifically-sound publication that is the proud new author of the Keira Knightley post, they “got away with it” because we were programmed to let them.

Oh boy.

Listen to this (direct quote from this article):

“A new study published in the journal ‘The Biologist’ last week found the sight of superskinny celebs doesn’t just make women feel bad – it actually changes the way we think. According to Aric Sigman, who conducted the exhaustive international study, otherwise intelligent women may not be able to prevent their brains from being flooded with negative feelings when repeatedly shown images of Blake Lively’s thighs or Nicole Kidman’s sternum. Sigman travelled to remote parts of the world, including Indonesia’s West Papua, Bhutan and Burkina Faso, where electronic media has only recently extended its reach, and interviewed women and local doctors about what happened when images of LiLo’s tortured hipbones staggered into town. Even in cultures where fuller figures were revered, women faced with Western tabloid images immediately began declaring they hated their own bodies and going on diets. According to Sigman, the study reveals an “adaptive evolutionary mechanism” in women, which causes us to relentlessly compare ourselves with each other in the hope of bagging the best mate.”

Regardless of whether Sigman’s “mate-bagging theory” holds up over the long-term, one thing is clear –

Right now, our brain needs a mentor as badly as we do.

Since we can’t very well sit back and wait for the fashion industry to recognize our collective plight, become concerned for our emotional, mental, and physical well-being, yank all the pencil clotheshangers mannequins from mall shop windows, and launch an international crusade against the evils of one-size-fits-all beauty and body image standards, we’re just going to have to do it ourselves.

I have already started – in fact, I went to the Galleria today to practice.

I boldly walked right into one of those stores my brain and I both get extra-angry at, tried on an adult female “extra small” jacket (a jacket, I might mention, that my six month-old niece probably wouldn’t be able to squeeze into) and play-acted out my “shock” for the salesladies’ benefit when it didn’t fit (I drew on everything I could remember from my 7th grade acting lessons for this activity).

Next I practiced gazing sympathetically at the mannequins while wandering the Galleria’s long corridors, as my brain and I imagined creative ways to organize their mass escape.

My bird, Pearl, helping me to select a Target outfit for my Galleria outing.

Finally, I stood in front of a skinny-boutique mirror, pale snooty salesgirls looking on, and thoroughly admired my own 100% comfortable and mannequin-free outfit….from Target.

I am feeling more beautiful already.

And so is my brain.

Today’s Takeaway: Without even realizing it, today alone you will likely be bombarded with upwards of 500 attractiveness-related advertising messages. The next time you see one, how are you going to react? Think about it now – before the next message infiltrates your awareness. Will you avert your eyes? Take other evasive action? Use countermeasures? Or support the very industry that keeps each of us “shopping for self-esteem” – when we already have every reason to feel proud and happy with ourselves just as we are!?

When Our Brain Needs A Mentor

Shannon Cutts

Parrot, tortoise & box turtle mama. Writer. Author. Mentor. Champion of all people (and things) recovered and recovering.

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APA Reference
Cutts, S. (2010). When Our Brain Needs A Mentor. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 20, 2020, from


Last updated: 18 Nov 2010
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