Solveig Walkling Talks About Loving Your Body, Healthy Weight Tips, & Modeling Advice

Credit to Fernwood Magazine and Photographer Paul Suesse for ACP Magazines.

Love Your Body by Solveig Walkling

I first started modeling when I was sixteen. For me, it was always a means to an end, a great way to help me achieve other goals, and work towards a career that I enjoy and that enables me to do something more worthwhile with my life. I’m aware there are a lot of young girls out there, though, whose only dream it is to become a model. They associate the life of a model with glamour, trips to far-flung locations, and having the world (or at least most guys) at their feet. And, while it can be all that at times, the reality of modeling looks very different.

Often, parents of pretty young girls ask me what kind of advice I would give about a career in modeling. I tell them to make sure they only expose their daughter to the fashion industry if she has a healthy body image and self-esteem, to try to accompany her to as many jobs as possible, and make sure she keeps other interests and goals. Models are objectified and defined solely by their looks, and I know from my own experience you have to have a very level head and good support system to make it in the industry. It’s easy to get sucked into a world of superficiality and lose touch with your own inner beauty over the constant focus on your looks.

As a teenage model, I struggled to accept my body. Where everybody else seemed to see beauty and potential, I saw my flaws and shortfalls. Like most teenagers, I struggled with my body’s changes. I wanted to look more like the heavily made-up and photoshopped ideals I saw in women’s magazines. Strangely, seeing professional photos of me – that made me look exactly like the pictures in magazines… because they were – actually seemed to enhance the feeling of inadequacy. I was painfully aware that my modeling shots were not how I looked in real life.

Now, when I look back at photos of myself as a 16-year-old model, I wish I were able to go back and help myself through that time of body anxiety and insecurity. I’d love to be able to say to my younger self: “Look at yourself, Sol. There’s not a single thing wrong with you. You’re perfect the way you are. Believe in yourself and don’t worry about your looks for one second. Love your body for the amazing places it takes you, the great adventures you’ll have together, and how well and unfailingly it will serve you. Who cares if you don’t look like Claudia Schiffer. Even Claudia Schiffer doesn’t look like the supermodel she is when she wakes up. What makes a body beautiful is the person that’s inside. Everything else is just perception… and smoke and mirrors.” It took me years to come to a healthy attitude towards my body after we got off on the wrong foot. Today, I’m grateful it still works so well after the bad treatment I gave it when I starved myself to look skinnier than Kate Moss. In my warped perspective of the world, at some point, I even believed the poster girl of all things skinny and waif was fat!

I now support The Butterfly Foundation in its mission to change the culture, policy, and practice in the prevention and treatment of eating disorders. I also try to act as a role model for a healthy body image by writing about the issue, helping the charity find sponsors, and hosting a table at their annual ball. I’ll also gladly share my personal story and give advice to those that ask.

Solveig at age sixteen. One of her first ever modeling shots

Here’s a great quote from a page on body image I came across on Deakin University’s website while researching an article. “There is no magic weight loss potion. Learn to like the body you have and look after it.” I’d like to add, “Focus on being healthy rather than a size number. It’ll make life much more enjoyable. A healthy mind lives in a healthy body. And, living life to its full potential will make you happy, a dress size won’t.” Trust me, I know. It might sound like that old chestnut, but it’s really what’s on the inside that counts. And, if you love your body, it’ll love you right back.

My body and I have become a happy healthy item and while we sometimes disagree – for example on how much chocolate I should be allowed to eat without repercussions or how far I should be allowed to run before it throws the towel in – it’s a loving relationship these days. We know each other’s flaws. The mind pushes the body too hard, the body is sometimes too weak (or soft, as the mind would put it)… But really, they love being around each other and wouldn’t have it any other way. And, the funny thing is, the more I just let go of my concerns about size or looks (a tough one when you model), the more I liked what my body naturally wanted to do. Today, I love my body – scars, discolorations, weight fluctuations, and all.

If you aren’t there yet, try finding a few things you like about yours and show it some love. Don’t be hard on yourself. It’s the reason you can experience this wonderful world of ours every day. It enables you to see sunsets, smell the sea, hear children’s laughter, and feel the sun on your skin. If you’re kind to it and look after it, I’m sure it’ll love you right back.

By the way, I now even really enjoy the modeling and thankfully enough, have been doing lots of shoots lately that portray a healthy, happy, and glowing image, hopefully setting a good example for other young girls wanting to model. And, recent changes in the fashion industry make me take heart that lasting changes are afoot for a greater diversity of looks and sizes.

Here are some great tips on healthy weight and body image from the website I mentioned above, if you’d like a bit more advice. If you’d like to share your feedback with me or have any other questions please email me at bookings@solwalkling.com. Thanks to Plus-Size Models Unite for sharing my article.

Credit to Fernwood Magazine and Photographer Paul Suesse for ACP Magazines.

Healthy Weight Tips

  • Be realistic about your need to lose or gain weight. What is your genetically inherited shape? Are you fit? Are you energetic and happy?
  • No food is good or bad.
  • Choose realistic weight loss or gain goals – are they specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely (SMART) based?
  • Learn about non hungry eating and eating associated with emotions .
  • Eat a variety of foods from each food group and vary foods within those groups. Aim for a low-fat, high fibre, and complex carbohydrate diet with plenty of unprocessed foods.
  • Limit processed foods such as take away or fast food meals.
  • Watch meal portion sizes (don’t super-size up).
  • Enjoy food and eat slowly.
  • Don’t skip meals, particularly breakfast.
  • Drink water (1-3 liters per day).
  • Get moving – exercise every day if you can. Both dedicated and incidental exercise. Make sure the exercise you pick is enjoyable and something you will keep doing. Build in variety and look upon exercise as any chance to get up and move.

Definition

Body image is a difficult term to define, however it is linked to our self-awareness, self perception, self-esteem and how we view ourselves in this world. Body image is influenced by many factors including; parenting, gender, culture, media, peers, the fashion and beauty industry, and self-esteem. For example, Western society in the last 40 years or so has promoted thinness as the ideal body shape for women, whereas other cultures revere fuller female figures. The average Australian woman’s dress size is actually 14, not 10 or 8 as portrayed in many areas of the fashion and beauty industry. In addition, it is normal for women to have fat distributed on their hips and thighs and be a certain body weight to facilitate menstruation, fertility, lactation, protect against osteoporosis, and to maintain healthy skin, eyes, hair and teeth. Men are also increasingly under pressure to achieve an ideal body including thinness, muscularity, and definition.

What Can Be Done?

There is no one simple or magical answer to achieving satisfaction with your own body image, however an awareness of what influences body image plus following the healthy weight tips above is a good start. It is also vital to accept and care for who and what you are both physically and mentally. Overall health and well-being is the important goal of which healthy, balanced eating, and exercise is an important part. Caring for your mental health and well-being is also equally important: including focusing on positive achievements, avoiding negative and black/white self-talk, and aiming for a balanced view of self and others in the world.

You can find out more about Solveig at www.bodymindsol and www.solwalkling.com.

 *Thank You, Solveig!

**How do you define healthy? How do you define beauty? What unique qualities do you love about yourself? How do you stay positive? What motivates you to be good to your body?

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23 Responses to “Solveig Walkling Talks About Loving Your Body, Healthy Weight Tips, & Modeling Advice”

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