How many times do you look at yourself in the mirror and go, “Yes I’m beautiful both inside and out, I’m positive, and there’s no one who can tell me otherwise.” Think?
Most of us have felt, “Ah, those dark circles, those pimples and scars, those frown lines. Why do I not have the perfect body?” The implications of having a negative body image are bad, they eat into your thoughts and affect you a lot.
It is said that you begin to create a personality and conjure an identity for yourself right fro the age of three. At that age, you are more inclined to mimic what you see from those around you. Setting unrealistic standards and unattainable body goals is not only unhealthy but also deleterious to the overall development in the long term.
So what exactly is Body Image?
Your body image is how you perceive your body to be. How you think and feel about it. How you OWN it and flaunt your perfections and flaws.
There is no ideal or ‘perfect’ body image, it all lies in how you accept who you are and live with it. You can either have a positive or a negative (unhealthy) one.
Are you happy with the way you look? Are you satisfied with what you see in the mirror everyday? If you answer yes, congratulations! You’re fantastic since you possess a positive body image. That’s the way it should be!
What if you are discontent with yourself, picturing an image but feeling that you’re seeing an imperfect one? Do you want to always change the way you look? Maybe lose a few pounds or gain some, turn a shade lighter and attain a zillion other ‘beauty standards’? Welcome to the negative body image club!
A few hard hitting statistics to ponder over:
o Around 70% of women who are within their normal weight range want to be thinner.
o This sense of dissatisfaction with the body is not limited to women, 34% men have the same feeling too
o It is also seen that 40-70% girls are dissatisfied with 2 or more parts of their body by middle school.
Some factors that influence the development of body image
o FAMILY AND FRIENDS : If you have the support of those people with whom who spend most of your time with, if they do not emphasize on you having a perfect body, look at you positively and do not pass comments about it, it’s going to help in building a positive body image.
o PUBERTY : Those teenage years! You get taller, become a bit robust and discover another phase of growing up. It’s a whole new you and it may be difficult to take in all the changes that are happening.
o SOCIAL MEDIA : The big bad wolf. Social media has taken over our lives. An unimaginable growth of the internet, brimming with innumerable content, freely available as well! From interactions with influencers, to portrayal of the absolute body in pictures can all have a tremendous impact on how you develop your body image.
How does having a negative body image affect you?
o You are obsessed with the way you look, often seeking validation from others. It deals a major blow to your self esteem and confidence.
o You are constantly on one of those ‘crash diets’ which often paves the way to an eating disorder.
o You start withdrawing from the outside, mingling less with others which leads to psychosocial problems like depression, anxiety and stress.
You own it- you flaunt it! The (im)perfect guide
It’s quite the task to steer clear from all the images and advertisements that depicts the ideal body, but there’s a lot that can be done to make a positive body image.
Your body is yours to show off! Accept it the way it is first and then work towards maintaining a healthy balance between body and mind. Do not be fazed by the ridiculous standards. Do what makes you feel comfortable and do not give in to pressure. Cultivate a habit of thinking and speaking positively about it. There’s absolutely no room for body shaming, not from yourself, not from others.
Instead of critiquing every part, try praising it. Appreciate the whole essence of being you, beautiful inside and out. Focus on the good things and let that shine through. Take those funny, crazy photographs, attend those grand functions and face everyone with confidence. You don’t need that cosmetic surgery!
Enjoy a healthy, well balanced meal. Exercise to be strong and fit and not for the quintessential body. Don’t neglect your health in the pursuit of the flawless body (if that exists!)
o UNWIND AND UNPLUG
From all the unhealthy discussions, chats and comparisons. Take some time off from social media. Use it to reflect. Get your confidence and self esteem up by relaxing and motivating yourself.
Have meaningful conversations with your family and friends about positivity. Focus on valuing people for who they are. You can also simply listen and help others who are having insecurities and reassure them.
We are all familiar with the emotions that we go through when we try so hard to be someone else and the impact it has on us. So why go into all that trouble?
Be comfortable in your own skin, strive to have a healthy body and a healthy mind.
A twist to the common saying “Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder – Yours!”
OWN your body because you are FLAWSOME !
– NANDITA RANJIT
(Doctor | Blogger @ thedosadocdiaries.wordpress.com )