Body image problems predominantly stem from psychological issues. Body image itself is characterised as an internalised representation of how we perceive ourselves to look, how we think we should look and how we think we look to others.
Most people have a sense of coherency between these facets of body image but unfortunately in today’s day and age, our worlds are infiltrated with social media and photo shop that results in more and more people suffering from distorted body image issues.
We all know of at least one person who sees themselves as something they’re not. They workout 7 days a week, eat nothing but kale chips and protein shakes have to die for abs and box gap, yet when they look in the mirror, they fixate on minor ‘imperfections’ and see themselves as 10x larger than they really are.
So they eat less kale chips, workout 14 times a week, the to die for abs harden and the box gap widens yet, the person in question sees themselves as worse off and these imperfections and this negative self-image persists.
It’s a vicious cycle. We perceive ourselves as inferior so we work tirelessly to change the physical appearance because we believe that this is where the angst stems from. We are unhappy with how we look and how we perceive ourselves so we try to carve a body of ‘perfection’ so we can finally feel content with how we look and feel. But even if we reach the idealised goal we’re never happy. Instead, we want more, ultimately starting the cycle from the beginning again.
I find it quite contradictory how we try to fix a psychological problem, physically. I bring you back to the opening paragraph of this post and the definition of distorted body image. Not once was a problem with appearance or the body mentioned. Not once. So why do we try to fix the body when the body isn’t the problem?
If you went to a doctor for a sore throat and they gave you treatment for a broken arm, you would wonder how they’re still practicing, right? You would think they were slightly crazy, didn’t listen to a word you had said and probably think that common sense would have been sufficient to be able to figure that one out.
So how is this any different? Why do we try to fix something that’s not even slightly broken? And why do we not listen to the pressing problem at hand?
People with body image issues and negative views on their appearance only have one thing they need to change and it has nothing to do with the amount of fat on their body. What needs to change is the internal dialogue they have in their own heads. The only way that you will ever be happy with the way you look is by learning to love yourself at every single stage of your life.
Stop scrutinizing yourself in the mirror. Stop analysing every bump, smooth edge and scar. Stop comparing yourself to the kilometres of models you scroll through every day on Instagram because I can 110% guarantee that they also wish they could change aspects about their appearance and they also think that someone else’s body is better than theirs.
The people who are at peace with themselves and the people who are content with the way they look aren’t necessarily the ones who look like photoshopped goddesses. More often than not, they’re normal people like you and I but they have mastered the art of positive self talk and loving their bodies for what they are. Strong, healthy, capable and bloody amazing for keeping you alive despite the shit it has to put up with.
Imagine how amazing we would feel about ourselves if every time we looked in the mirror we verbalised something that we loved about ourselves. Imagine if we looked at ourselves in the eye and said out loud how amazing we are. But we don’t. Instead, it’s more accepted to look in the mirror and pick apart our bodies. It’s more acceptable to dislike who we are than openly say how awesome we are.
You are more than your body. You are far more than you appearance. And if you’re forever on a quest to reach perfection, you will continuously be let down because perfection does not exist. Perfection only exists if you tell yourself you’re already perfect with all of your imperfections.
The body you have and the body that you hate on is somebody else’s dream. To someone, you’re perfect. To someone, you are their goal.
We all need to stop with the self-loathing and trying to attain something in the future while dismissing the beauty of the now. You will never look exactly like you do today.
With each day we age, with each day we grow, with each day we learn so we need to make sure that with each day, we also live.