Body image can have a big impact on how people feel about themselves, it has a significant impact on mental health. The Mental Health Foundation (2019) reported that:
- One in five people have felt shame because of their body image in the last year
- Over a third of adults have felt anxious and depressed because of concerns about their body image
- One in eight adults have had suicidal thoughts over their body image
- One in five adults said images on social media caused them to worry about their body image
Battling the demons of body image can be debilitating, hold a person back, affect personal relationships and prevent you from going from goals in life. It can be really distressing for people suffering with lack of positive body image.
With Social Media it is so easy to be bombarded with images of what can be perceived as “the perfect body” how much can you ever know from an image on social media? It is so commonly said that people put out on social media the image they want portrayed, the perfect body, doesn’t mean happiness, it doesn’t mean health. With all the visual imagery and social media, it can be easy to lose sight of the most important thing health, health is wealth, this last year of living in a pandemic has really brought this home.
Our bodies are incredible machines that allow us to experience our world and live every day. Through the bombardment of marketing images, social media we can lose sight of the wonder and magic of the human body. It is easy to lose sight of just how amazing our bodies are, what they do every day to keep us alive, the value of being healthy and actually the fact that being beautiful is unique to everyone. We are not meant to look the same we are all meant to look different and have our own unique style of beauty.
Finding positive body image is not easy, I speak from experience, on my own personal battles with body image, where I have starved my body, taken fat burners, trained hard on minimal nutrition on the quest for a smaller dress size. In the past when my has life spiralled out of control food became a remedy, it was the one thing I could control, so I controlled what I ate, the weight fell off and it made me feel better, at my slimmest size I was never healthy and I wasn’t happy. I remember at points friends saying to me “ you are looking too thin now” and I just didn’t see it, it is only looking back at photos now that I think yes, I was too thin, being able to see all the bones on my chest and my face was withdrawn. I am also sad to say the pressure to lose weight has at times been due to the partner I was with at the time telling me I needed to lose weight, putting pressure on me, questioning the food I ate, questioning my training, I succumbed to the pressure, their comments made me hate my body more, it took time for their voice to leave my brain after the relationships ended. When I look back at how I have treated my body it makes me sad, I have treated it with brutality, not cared for it in the way it deserved. However knowledge is power, age and its wisdom is power, healing is power.
I am not perfect by any means body image like so many things in life is a journey, but I have grown to respect and love my body, because I came to appreciate that I have this one body and our bodies are our only one true home. My body allows me to live my life. I have found a way to be more comfortable in my own skin.
When I have struggled with body image, I will stop and think of what my body has done for me:
- It has kept me alive,
- Ran many miles of adventures,
- Travelled to some incredible places,
- Shared happy celebrations with friends,
- My body has climbed physical and mental mountains and made it down the other side.
- My body allows me to be a friend to the wonderful people in my life,
- To wake up and discover each new day,
- It is strong and I am able to lift heavy things which is empowering
- The joy of dancing around the house,
Thinking about all the things my body has done and continues to do makes me want to look after it, so I can continue to live, to experience and enjoy the people I love.
When we stop and think about everything our bodies do, they are amazing! They are so much more than the perfect breast, a pert bum, a tiny waist, a line free face, they are to be celebrated for every curve, every scar, every line, which tells us a story of our life, for all the mothers out there, your bodies are phenomenal they brought life into the world, to the dads it gave you the ability to hold your babies, to hold their hand as they grow. These are just some examples of the great things are bodies are capable of, I could carry on listing, but this would be seriously too long!
What difference would it make if we thought about what our bodies do for us every day? For body conversations, for social media posts to be focused on celebrating how amazing our bodies are for what they do for us, for the joy, the love, the connections our bodies allow us to experience, for nourishing our bodies with joy, love and foods to keep us healthy, rather than how they look, and focusing on how to reduce our flaws, that would be a body revolution, celebrating our bodies for what they can do, for how they carry us through this crazy journey we call life!
No matter who you are, where you are, what you believe you look like, your body is incredible because it is yours!
If you battle with body image here are some tips to help:
- Focus on health above anything else – focus on having a healthy body and forget dress size, health is wealth.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help – asking for help from friends, families or a professional asking for help is not a weakness but strength and a positive action for change. Anyone who does not support you with making positive changes then there doesn’t need to be on your positive body image journey.
- Say thank you every day for your body and everything it does for you
- Focus on at least three positive things everyday about yourself from – healthy hair, being kind, you got out of bed this morning whatever it is no matter how small write it down, write down as many positives as you can find.(if your struggle with this get a trusted friend to help you)
- Do something physical – again just focus on your abilities – everyone starts somewhere, walking for 5 minutes is a start if you are new to exercise. Getting physical can be really empowering and helps keep your body strong and healthy.
- Be patient with yourself – any changes take time, and you may slip up that’s ok, don’t beat yourself up, just let it go and get back on track.
- Value your individuality – We are not meant to look the same, though the beauty industry likes to tell us what is beautiful there really is no definition beauty is in the eye of the beholder and its shines from the inside out. So embrace who you are and all that you are, just be being true to you, and speaking from your heart you, because that’s what you were born to do.
- Celebrate your body!!!! Because it’s amazing and you are amazing!