Harlem Word: Dr. Hilda Hutcherson -- Body image

Dr. Hutcherson discusses building positive body image for men and women.  Dr. Hutcherson is a gynecologist and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center.

Q: Men and women, but a lot of women, constantly hear positive and negative comments about their bodies from women, men and the media about size or different body parts. What advice do you have for women who might feel overwhelmed by this constant examination?

A: Well what I say to women is that you really have to become comfortable with your body just the way it is. I mean there is only so much you can change. And so you need to be comfortable with the skin you're in. So if you're receiving messages from a boyfriend, a lover-- you've got to tell that person to bug off, leave you alone, or you gotta find another partner. If you are finding that there are magazines that are constantly telling you that you are not perfect, then don't buy those magazines. Don't read those magazines. Don't watch the television shows that tell you that you should look like a string bean when you're a size 18. So you would choose media that makes that makes you feel good and reject media that makes you feel bad. Choose lovers that make you feel good about the way you are, and reject those that make you feel bad. So that would be my advice.

Q: And I guess the same thing goes for men as well they don't need to have that six-pack or the big muscles they might feel self-conscious about that.

A: Exactly the same with men. You reject anybody, anything that is giving you a bad message that's making you feel bad about the way you are, and choosing those media outlets that tell you that you are perfect in your own skin. Now sometimes you do need to exercise a little bit and you do need to lose a little weight. So choosing messages that are healthy I think are good. So, if you are overweight, go out and exercise, get a gym membership or just go walking. And make sure you're eating the right food. But you're doing that for health reasons, not because you are trying to sculpt your body into the "perfect form" because there is no perfect form. Each of us is different and each person is beautiful within their own selves.

More on our interview with Dr. Hutcherson...

Harlem Word is a series of interviews with Northern Manhattan health experts, written by HHPC and reviewed by our Health Advisory Board.

1 Comment

I once heard someone say: "Never read beauty magazines. They only make you feel ugly." and they are right.

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