We can all relate to looking in the mirror and questioning the way we see ourselves.
Our self-esteem is impacted by so many external influences – what we see on social media, negative comments from peers, society’s extreme beauty standards and the relationships we have with our friends, parents, siblings and teachers.
However, researchers are starting to consider that the way we feel about our bodies could actually be rooted below the surface – a product of our hormones at work.
As if being a teenage girl isn’t hard enough, studies are showing that adolescent girls are particularly vulnerable to developing negative body image during puberty. A Polish study of more than 300 girls aged between 12-18 years has confirmed the link between body image dissatisfaction and phases of the menstrual cycle.
So what is ‘body image dissatisfaction’? This study described it as ‘the negative evaluation of body image, when an individual’s beliefs about her own actual body size and/or shape does not match how the attributes are judged by others’ (Kaczmarek et al, 2015). Put simply, you are seeing yourself completely differently to how others see you.
Kaczmarek’s study is just one of many that has showed a link between our menstrual cycle and the way we feel about our bodies. The likelihood of feeling dissatisfied with what we see in the mirror is a whopping 2.4 times higher for girls at their premenstrual phase (Persephone), compared to their peers in the menstrual phase (Hecate).
I know you are probably not surprised to hear this! It has been well documented how girls can experience water retention, negative feelings and food cravings during Persephone.
Early in the cycle, during the follicular phase (Daphne, day 6-14) us girls express improved well-being, liveliness, enthusiasm, higher self-esteem and find more pleasure in the little things – awesome! This is due to an increased amount of oestrogen, allowing the brain to become more animated and capable of receiving and processing larger amounts of information – and it feels amazing… while it lasts!
Then, four-five days before your period, oestrogen levels drop and progesterone levels increase. The alteration of your nervous cell activity leads to a change in behaviour, mood swings from angry, to frustrated to distressed, a lower libido, and even depression.
It’s no wonder we start to question our self-perception!
So while there are many external causes of low self-esteem that we may not be able to control, embracing the practical value of understanding your cycle could make a big difference.
Take some time to check out our Emgoddess programs. Together we can explore the four phases of your cycle and understand how to promote better self-esteem no matter what time of the month.