Body image. Oh, how I have a love/hate relationship with you.
One day, I love my legs, strong thighs, and vibrant eyes. The next, I look in the same mirror, at the same body, and see all the flaws: knobby knees, frizzy hair, and thick midsection.
What causes these shifts? Why can we praise ourselves one day, but criticize ourselves the next?
It’s natural to have “bad” days, days where we just don’t feel all that great. But, with more and more pressure to achieve a certain look, those bad days can sometimes outweigh the good.
Body image is the combination of our personal and cultural views of what we look like. However, more of what we see is becoming influenced by society, rather than our individual views. We “put their desired look, face and body, on their Facebook page, so defining their chosen image.” Women are meant to look ultra-thin, men to be muscular.
We want people to see us at our best. Who doesn’t? But when all we see is others’ best image, then it makes our normal selves seem inadequate.
Researchers found “anorexic bodies are ‘constructed’: they are thoroughly embedded in culturally normalized, gendered ideals surrounding dieting, fitness, the micromanagement of food and of body shape, and efforts to subordinate the flesh to willpower.”
As with any eating disorder, our views get so skewed by others’ that our self-confidence gets overshadowed. Even some participants in one study said having an eating disorder made them feel judged by others. The thing that they thought would earn them social recognition and perfect bodies actually made them feel worse about themselves.
We want the ideal body. The picture-perfect image of what we are “supposed” to be.
Thing is… there is no “natural” body.
We’re all unique. We might have bigger hips, smaller arms, wider chests. And that’s all good. That’s all “normal.”
Media views are distorted. But we need to gain the confidence to realize that, and celebrate our bodies. Even if someone is skinny, that doesn’t mean doesn’t have body image issues. Just because he has bulging biceps doesn’t mean he sees himself as handsome in the mirror. No one is immune to body image issues.
Look at positive and more realistic images when you have bad body image days.
Use social media to compliment someone’s achievements, not critique their bodies.
Analyze the images you see. Is that really what that model looks like? Does her face have that same flawless glow when she wakes up in the morning? Does he really have those popping six-pack abs while he lies on the couch and watches TV?
We look different every day. Why should we construct a body image that forces us to be one thing, all the time?
It’s time we become body confident. Stop judging others, but also talk to yourself like you love yourself.
You are not that woman in the magazine, that bodybuilder on Instagram. You aren’t even your supermodel-looking friend on Facebook. You are never going to be them, because, guess what? You are YOU.
Construct a body image all your own, built on your strengths and weakness, what you love and hate to do.
And that’s beautiful.
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