Why We Need to Take Body Image More Seriously with Fitness Expert Adele Khaski

By Frieda Schweky Jun 25, 2018 12:46 PM

Body image issues are arguably one of the biggest epidemics currently plaguing the Jewish community located in Brooklyn, NY and Deal, NJ on a widespread scale. Someone who maintains a negative body image can be defined as an individual who is unable to see themselves in a positive light, regardless of the reality of their actual health. Negative Body image can be caused by many things such as external and internal stressors.

Adele Khaski, an experienced trainer, running coach, and triathlete is one of the many individuals in the health industry within the community who has made it her mission to not only become familiar with this issue but to also do everything she can to try and help those who suffer from it. According to Khaski, knowing where this recent epidemic stems from and understanding how it could negatively impact someone’s body as well as their mind is extremely important in order to try and irradicate it from our community entirely.

What is the concept of negative body image and where does it come from?

According to Khaski, magazines, advertisements, television, and social media work together to paint perfect images of what the ‘ideal body-type’ should look like. The problem is that it influences the malleable minds of our community’s youth, both male and female alike, and most of them buy into it all.

If one would reset the clock a few years, one might notice most of the celebrities in Hollywood boasting their skeleton-like physiques to the world. Fast forward to today and those same people are changing to the new status-quo which is rounder, stronger, and more fit bodies. This new realistic body image is spreading throughout the macrocosm of the world at large but, for whatever reason, has not reached the microcosm of our community, specifically our young women.

“Our community is stuck in the stick-skinny look,” said Khaski of the Jewish communities located in the tri-state area.

This unrealistic, unattainable, and most importantly unhealthy look of having a flat stomach, small chest, and flat behind as well, is being seen as ‘the perfect body’. Muscles or fat of any kind don’t fit in to this idealized look.

How negative body image can affect one’s confidence.

According to Khaski, internal stressors are also a major factor we must reflect upon to further understand this issue. Parents who are struggling with their own body issues tend to send the wrong message to their children. Even if not directed towards the child, a daughter may see her mother not eating properly or nutritiously to try and shortcut her way into a smaller dress size.

This sends a very obvious message: how I look is more important than how I feel. Some parents outright shame their children and hurt their confidence with words. Some parents try to ‘help’ by bringing their teens or even younger children to a nutritionist to try and solve the ‘problem’ head on. Most do it without even realizing. All are equally as harmful and contribute to the cycle of lower confidence and poor body image.

Setting yourself up for failure always leads to devastation.

“Trying to be a size or shape that you may not be meant to look like is setting yourself up for failure,” said Adele Khaski through her experience working with individuals in the community who need help with creating a positive body image for themselves. 

Setting an unrealistic or unhealthy goal for your image can be very harmful to your overall self-esteem and self-love.

How to combat this full-fledged issue the correct way.

Khaski urges that the key to life is balance. What comes first, however, is self-love. You must accept yourself and your body for what it is. Then take steps that feel right to reach your goal. Find a way to move that you actually enjoy, do things that make you happy and the results will soon follow.

“It’s going to take time and work because it will only change through one person at a time,” said Khaski when asked if she had hope in resolving this issue. “Positive body image encompasses looking at everyone as individuals.”

According to Khaski, one should avoid starvation and should never attempt crash diets that cut proper nutrition in half in order to see instant results. This need for instant gratification in all avenues of our lives shouldn’t apply to health and weight loss. The normal flow of weight loss is to lose 1 to 2  pounds per week.

If you happen to attend a wedding one day or something else comes up and you deferred from your healthy way of eating, don’t get down on yourself. Life happens and it’s not a sprint. It's patience and hard work that help you achieve longevity in your health.

How parents can contribute to the problem.

When it comes to parents and children, actions speak louder than words. If your kids see you doing right by your body, odds are they will want to do the same. Words, however, should not be discounted, in fact, positive speech in the home can be the key to your child's confidence.

“Kids need to be kids,” said Khaski bluntly. “They can’t grow up to be healthy if they experience adult pressures as children.”

According to Khaski, make sure that if you ever feel the need to criticize a child that it is constructive criticism that always begins and ends on a positive note. Also, compliments go a long way so don’t forget to build your children up every day.

How to help your child the right way.

If there is a specific case of an unhealthy teen who really could stand to lose weight for health reasons, there are ways to help them through it without damaging their self-worth. Bring it up as something you are also curious about for your own self-gain.  Khaski recommends not putting an individual child on their own meal plan. Khaski would rather a parent make their entire household a healthier one enforcing it as a lifestyle change for the whole family.

Another quick change you can do is go through your kitchen and rid it of all unhealthy processed snacks and junk. Then immediately fill the house with healthier alternatives. Khaski recommends to always have cut and prepared fruits and vegetables available to snack on so it’s a quick no-brainer choice for everyone at home.

This issue of body image is widespread but does not have to define the future or even the current state of our community. One person at a time choosing to love and accept themselves before they take a journey towards health will ultimately cause a chain reaction. So stop and ask yourself, what is your self worth and what message are you sending to others about it? We all can make an impact.

To learn more about Adele Khaski and to see her journey, check her out on Instagram @adelekhaski.

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Frieda Schweky is Sephardic.Org's official community events reporter. For inquiries and to get involved with our site, please contact Frieda via email.