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Women's Magazines & Why I Hate the Word "Willpower"

Women’s magazines love to use the word “willpower”:

“It seems there are two kinds of women: those that have willpower of steel and can somehow manage to avoid a taste (or two or three) of dough when making cookies, and the women who not only have a taste, but also lick out the bowl! Given that holiday baking season is on our doorsteps, I have to know: How many of you have been known to partake in a little cookie dough?” ~

“In a world where you can inhale half your daily allotment of calories as you turn left out of the drive-thru, often the only thing standing between you and a few extra chins is willpower—that oh-so—elusive ability to halt the urge to indulge. …

These four tactics target the most common resolve busters. Put them into practice, and pretty soon that cheesy Sicilian slice or glazed doughnut will be no match for your mental strength.” ~ Women’s Health

12 thoughts on “Women's Magazines & Why I Hate the Word "Willpower"

  • March 25, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    i agree, “willpower” is not a good word. i think it’s a set up for failure.
    being mindful and intuitive are much better words at framing how we should eat.

  • March 25, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    @love2eatinpa, well said! it absolutely sets people up for failure.

    i wish women’s magazines focused more on intuitive and mindful eating and much much less on tactics to manipulate ourselves into eating less and being thin.

    thanks for the comment!

  • March 25, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    Great post! I can’t stand that word, either. It implies we have to be constantly on guard against ourselves.

    Food cravings usually occur for a good reason. I find I have far fewer problems with “willpower” when I’m well fed and well nourished.

  • March 25, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    Thanks so much, Eleanor!

    I totally agree with you about us having to be on guard. It really creates a lot of anxiety surrounding food, as if we don’t have that already when we sit down to a meal.

    I’m the same way. Great point! After I dumped the diet mentality, let myself enjoy food and eat everything in moderation, my “willpower” issues basically went away.

  • March 25, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    I used to think my willpower was the enemy… but within the past year I discovered I was sensitive to gluten. It is amazing how my “willpower” has skyrocketed when really all that happened was those weird food cravings from my food intolerance went away.

  • March 25, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    What a great post! I admit I’m guilty of using “willpower” quite often in my own vocabulary. I never realized before that it could be doing me more harm than good. Thanks for the wonderful suggestions to move past this.

    BTW, I just recently discovered this blog and I absolutely love it!

  • March 26, 2010 at 9:06 am

    Why is it that only women are expected to have willpower, to deprive themselves, to go without, to suffer? There are more overweight/obese men than there are women, but where is the industry targeting THEM? We get bombarded from all sides – women’s magazines, mainstream newspapers, billboards, TV advertising… ALL the diet foods are aimed at women. Men need “willpower” just as much, yet for them it is acceptable to grow enormous guts because there is no pressure not to.

  • March 26, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    @ Susan, thank you! Your kind words mean so much!! It’s funny how we don’t notice what words sneak into our daily lives. Just next time you find yourself talking about “willpower,” consider what you really mean. That can help, too. 🙂

    @ JB, I think the pressure is mounting for men as well. Fitness and health magazines for men also portray a certain ideal image (ripped abs, bulging biceps), so I think it’s getting tougher for both sexes.

    It seems like years ago, though, women were expected to be the petite, thin ones, while there weren’t physical expectations for men. But it seems to be equaling out.

    Still, I’m going to take a look at magazines like Men’s Health, because now I’m curious to see if they use the word “willpower” in their articles.

  • March 26, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    The idea of willpower around losing weight makes me laugh.

    I am the QUEEN of willpower. I have a will of iron. I used that will of iron to live many, many years of starvation and purging eating disorders (not to mention manic exercise binges). And here I am, still fat, in fact I’m a Mega Fatty up in the “morbidly obese” range.

    If willpower really was a valid thing, not only would I be thin, I’d also be filthy rich, have size 7 feet (they’re size 10), and married to Hugh Jackman.

  • April 25, 2010 at 1:03 am

    This is very true.
    Just wondering, but would I be able to reference this in an essay I’m writing?
    It’s about the influence of the media on setting people up to fall into cycles of poor eating, unhealthy attitudes towards food and behaviour change.

  • July 31, 2010 at 1:27 am

    It is so gratifying to me that you use a word as strong as “hate.” [I’m right there with you.]

    • August 1, 2010 at 1:32 pm

      Thanks, Holly! It’s really a big pet peeve of mine because we see it everywhere, and yet it means nothing.


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