“Beauty Requires Pain” Is a Toxic Girly Thought

Patricia O’Gorman, PhD

“You are imperfect, permanently and inevitably flawed. And you are beautiful.”
—Amy Bloom

Beauty should be painful? Really? It is amazing how powerful our girly thoughts are . . .yes, those thoughts that tell us we have to live up to a certain societal standard if we want to be desirable, no matter what the cost.

It is also frightening how persistent our girly thoughts have been.

Foot Binding

We think we’ve made progress. After all, despite the pain they had to endure to be “beautiful,” ten centuries of Chinese women bound their feet. Thank goodness, this practice has subsided.

Rib Removal

Contrary to popular myth, women have never had ribs removed to achieve a smaller waist, neither in the French Court nor in the Victorian Era. One major reason is that this type of surgery would have been dangerous due to infection, and very, very painful as painkillers were essentially nonextent.

What is interesting is how widespread this myth is. As a psychologist, I’ve wondered why women would believe this was a common practice. What do we get from thinking this?

One clear answer is that thinking about women enduring pain to be beautiful as far back as the 16th century somehow makes it less ridiculous for us to continue to do the same—and that’s a girly thought. Yes, thinking that women have always gone to extreme measure to be beautiful makes it more confortable for us to do the same!

Waist Training?

Lest we think we are now wise and not buying into the belief that beauty involves lots of pain, please read this article by Nina Bahadur on the growing practice of waist training using the latest modern-day, hellish torture for women to achieve the beauty ideal: a modern corset.


Do You Want to Look Good?

If you want to look good and have a more slender waist:

  • Chuck those girly thoughts that say the end justifies the means
  • Eat healthfully. You’re probably a stress eater, so reduce your stress by not listening to your painful girly thoughts that tell you you’re fat anyway, so that bagel won’t make a difference.
  • Exercise. Find an ab workout that works for you:
    • One you can do.
    • One that doesn’t hurt you.
    • One that will fit into your schedule.

Let me know how this works for YOU!

Join Me—Next Stops:

  • New York City, NY: May 17, 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. “The Big Apple: Leadership and Girly Thoughts.”
  • Worchester, MA: June 11, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. “Girly Thoughts and Addiction.”
  • Lake Placid, NY: July 11, 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Book signing at Bookstore Plus.

You’ll find more ideas for getting rid of your negative self-talk in my latest book, The Girly Thoughts 10-Day Detox Plan: The Resilient Woman’s Guide to Saying NO to Negative Self-Talk and YES to Personal Power