Loving yourself as you are may sound like just a cliché, but it is worth putting more thought into it than just using it as a simple caption for social media.
There is a lot of mixed messaging when it comes to body image and the love or lack of love that is associated with it. At times it feels like you’re committing a crime just by loving your body as it is because apparently if you’re not trying to get healthy all the time then you are doing something wrong. Other times, it feels like NOT loving your body is bad in itself because you are trying to conform to social pressures of changing and not accepting yourself as you are.
This obviously can be confusing for a lot of people but it is unfortunately not much different from every other social issue that society deals with. There is always mixed messaging when tackling any issue, a group of people may say they know exactly what to say and do in order to eradicate bigotry of some kind, and another group says the complete opposite. Then you have those in the middle either trying to play both parts of the argument or just not getting in on the conversation at all.
The Need to Change
When it comes to body image, a lot of people are sold one kind of idea their entire lives. Certainly, if you watch any movie or show you’ll pretty much only see people with perfectly thin bodies, very little natural hair, perfect teeth, and just tall enough. This constant branding of what an everyday person is supposed to look like only does damage to actual everyday people. There are a lot of factors that come into play when we’re talking about the way our bodies are shaped.
To begin with, not everyone can afford to eat healthy all the time. Weirdly enough, it can cost a lot just to find healthy food and to be able to develop healthy eating habits. Then exercise costs a decent amount as well, and it also requires a lot of commitment. Generally, exercise is obviously good for you and the long-term benefits are definitely worth putting yourself through hardships, but also it is worth considering that people have different priorities in their daily lives. It depends from person to person if they can afford or if they are even able to spend that kind of time exercising. Moreover though, dental insurance costs extra in most countries and jobs, so once again money comes into consideration when it comes to looking a certain kind of way. One could say that it is rather elitist to make fun of someone’s appearance just because they can’t afford to conform to certain social expectations.
No one should feel pressured into changing the way they look if they are already comfortable with it. But as social media has taken off the past decade or so, conformity has become the norm. The way rich and fortunate people sell themselves as just everyday middle-income folk going on about their lives to other people on Instagram for example can be very damaging. Social media overall does absolutely contribute to a lot of young people’s body insecurities at very young and impressionable ages. Most certainly the owners of these social sites need to do something to avoid creating even more insecurities on people as young as 13 or 14. Not that this will ever take priority over making money and generating a larger user-base, but it should at least be taken into consideration as a problem with a need for a solution.
The Need to Love Your Body
Interestingly, the whole body-positive movement can also do a lot of damage in its own way. In a manner of speaking, when you spread a constant message of “You have to love your body or else…” that can’t be good for anyone. Some people do want to add or lose weight, and that’s okay. You can’t just condemn everyone who is not absolutely in love with the way they look as falling prey to the social hierarchy and comforting to all the pressures society is putting them under.
It is okay to want to change, and you can also love your body while doing it. It doesn’t really need to be one way or another when it comes to body-image. Be content with yourself but also if you are feeling as if you’d be more comfortable gaining or losing a little weight then you do you. As long as you’re not doing it for others and to make yourself feel better, no one should be able to add their two cents in to the conversation and say anything negative about it.
Just make sure you look inward and are not taking action based on what someone else is saying about the way you look. A lot of the time we are much meaner to ourselves in our own heads than to others out loud. Try to tune out that quiet and negative voice in the back of your head and just follow your heart.
More tips for the new year.
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