Body image (noun)
“A subjective picture of one’s own physical appearance established both by self-observation and by noting the reaction of others”
An individual’s feeling of attractiveness is determined by how confident they feel in their own body. Society, media and popular culture often shape how a person sees their own body, but popular standards are not always helpful as they can be destructive depending on how the individual perceives them. Constant bombardment by media images can cause people to feel uncomfortable about their body and this can lead to distress, illness and unhealthy behaviour; it can affect how we interact with others and how we feel about many aspects of our life.
There is no such thing as an ideal body. Given each individual is unique in their own way, everyone will have varied features from the next person. The acknowledgement of this fact is the beginning of self-acceptance. With the increasing pervasiveness of social media, we cannot deny that impossible body standards are being portrayed and this results in almost impossible goals for people to reach; which might negatively affect their health. It’s good to want to keep fit but it should be within the healthy limit. Each body requires different amounts of nutrition for its daily normal function and over or under feeding your body might not be the best solution.
We all have insecurities with our bodies and that’s normal. However, it starts to become abnormal if we obsess over our insecurities to a point where it masks everything good about ourselves. If you can feel yourself constantly criticizing a part of your body, to a point where you start to resent yourself; stop and re-structure your thoughts. Channel your thought process into something worthy of your energy and something that will not weigh you down.
Issues about negative body image are at times elevated by having too much time on our hands, as we end up dwelling on things that are almost impossible to achieve or change. If you wake up and see yourself as an imperfect human being with flaws but great features and attributes, then you have already accepted yourself.
However, if you are not happy with yourself, not because someone else passed a comment about your appearance, but because you see something about yourself that is becoming problematic in some way, and you know there’s something you can do about it then, by all means, do it for yourself and not to conform, fit in or please others. Start small and set reasonable goals. Consult with relevant people (i.e dietician, doctor, personal trainer, aesthetician etc) to seek help and come up with a strategy for a way forward.
The problem with many of us is that we want overnight results but change takes longer and requires dedication and patience. Adequate planning is essential and realistic goals must be set so that at we can have something tangible to work towards. Remember to reward yourself with every change you notice whether physically or behaviorally. Don’t stop or give up when you don’t see immediate results. The happiest and most confident people are those who have accepted their flaws and are internally happy with themselves and external comments or influences have no effect on their image of themselves. Accept yourself and learn to love your flaws. Build a wall around your emotions based on a strong foundation of self-love.
The PHD (pull her/him down) syndrome is real, and if the foundation of the wall is not deep enough it may be shaken by winds and storms and might even collapse. So take time digging the foundation so that when you start building you will not be shaken by external factors that may try to destroy your wall.
Deal with everything that comes your way, and walk out feeling like the most confident individual this planet has ever seen. Yes, you owe it to yourself and if you don’t appreciate your flaws nothing that anyone can do or say will ever change that; because if it does, then what happens when the next person comes with a different opinion? Is it going to restructure everything? Yes, you may sometimes be affected by external comments, but rather use them constructively to build a powerhouse, an unshaken force.
Negative body image is a result of emotional insecurity and can lead to disorders such as body dysmorphic disorder, body integrity identity disorder and eating disorders. These can be dangerous if they are allowed to escalate to health problems, such as depression. The person affected may pursue unnecessary surgery or unsafe weight-loss habits, such as a crash diet, or make use of illegal substances to create the desired image, physically.
If you need a little more motivation here are some positive body activists to follow on social media:
- “There’s nothing wrong with looking different, learn to celebrate your own kind of beautiful”.
- “If you give out the energy of self-doubt people feed off that. Nobody is attracted to anyone who isn’t attracted to themselves”
- Megan Jayne Crabbe.
She is an anorexia survivor turned body positivity blogger who helps her followers on Instagram learn how to love themselves.
- Laverne Cox.
- She is the first African American transgender woman to produce and star in her own television show.