Today I thought I’d try and talk a little bit about body image and why we need more body positivity in this media age we live in. Personally I have never particularly struggled with my own body image, that is not to say I am being vain or think I look perfect, but in all honesty I have never put myself down due to something I cannot physically change. However just because it isn’t an issue that has affected my happiness doesn’t mean I haven’t had comments made about me or heard them being directed at others.
I’d first like to point out, to be blunt, that people need to watch their mouth. Many people are all too happy to start making judgemental or hurtful comments about people, with little or no regard for how those words will affect the other person. A general rule of thumb is, if you wouldn’t want to hear it about yourself, then don’t say it about someone else. Many people get attacked for saying this but I think it needs to be pointed out, calling somebody too skinny or way too thin is just as offensive as calling someone fat. Someone else’s weight is none of your concern and does not affect your daily life, so therefore keep your thoughts to yourself. Having always been a small build but with long limbs, especially though school, I have been on the receiving end of many a ‘too skinny’ dig. Did my 14 year old self who was wondering why I didn’t really have any boobs yet and why my wrists and legs were so skinny, really need to hear these remarks? The answer is no, luckily these jibes never stayed with me after about an hour or so but for some people, comments like this can completely ruin their day and even have a more serious long-term impact. So in short, think before you speak.
I think in an age of social media, it is also important to not compare yourself to others, even though it is very difficult. I’ve never been one to read a glossy magazine a day and wonder why I didn’t look like the models (The answer is photoshop) but I know people can obsess over the latest fashion muse and become distressed that they don’t have those physical characteristics that are deemed desirable. It is unhealthy to compare yourself to others as we are all biologically different, if you have afro hair or are 5’1 you are never going to look exactly like Cara Delevingne but that’s okay, the world would be a very boring place if we all looked the same. At the same time, it is okay to have a positive body image, in fact it’s great, its okay to love yourself! Don’t make anyone make you feel bad because you posted a selfie because you loved how you looked that day or you felt confident in that outfit so you wanted to share it with your friends. You shouldn’t feel anxious to be happy, I know this happens a lot in younger teens, but don’t join in listing things you hate about yourself just because everyone else is. The biggest word of advice is to take a complement when it’s given to you and dish them out yourself. You could make someones day by telling them you love their new hairstyle or they look stunning wearing red, and if someone comments on a photo telling you you look nice, don’t deny it, accept it, say thank you and possibly compliment the other person back. Don’t feel like you have to put yourself down because that’s what everyone else is doing, if that carries on, nobody will ever be able to feel good about themselves.
If your body image does get you down, then why not write down a list of a few or even 1 thing that you like about your body, then when you have a negative thought or feel inferior to others, think of this positive attribute. Yes you might hate your nose but someone else might love to have your killer pins, the grass is always greener and all that. Obviously within reason it’s okay to want to make changes, if you have gained weight and want to lose it because you want to feel healthier or for medical reasons, then go for it. However you should never feel like you need to gain or lose weight just to try and fit into what society deems as sexy or acceptable. For sure try to maintain a balanced diet, drink plenty of water and do a bit of exercise, but don’t beat yourself up because you aren’t going to the gym 4 times a week to get toned muscles- who even has the time??? Kate Moss once famously said that ‘nothing tastes as good as skinny feels’, that is a lie, I can think of many things that taste better than being skinny; sticky toffee pudding, donuts and chip butties to name a few, so don’t feel you can never eat anything nice just to maintain your figure. Everybody gets blemishes from time to time but if your skin really gets you down, then visit your GP to see if they can help you out, but always remember looks aren’t everything and usually spot pre skin doesn’t last forever anyway. You could be deemed the most beautiful person ever but if you are nasty and nobody likes your personality then it means nothing in the long run.
I would also like to point out that your clothes size does not define you. No one cares if you are a size 6, 12 or 20 as long as you are healthy it’s fine- again we are all made up of totally different DNA. If you are traumatised to find you can no longer fit in your size 12 jeans- don’t be. Simply go out and buy yourself a new pair of Size 14s, you’ll feel a whole lot more confident if you are actually comfortable wearing your clothes then trying to force yourself into a pair that won’t zip or visa versa are holding them up with a belt. Sizes also vary from shop to shop I legitimately have clothes and jackets ranging in size from a Size 6-16 so don’t get too worked up about it. Our bodies naturally change over time, especially for women who push children through their bodies for christ sake! Change does not have to be bad- embrace the chance to go and buy yourself a new Little Black Dress that you actually want to wear. Also whilst we’re on the topic of clothes, don’t feel embarrassed to have to buy clothes from the plus sized section- Size 12 aint plus size. Having curves does not mean you should have to buy you clothes, underwear or bikinis from a different section to somebody with a smaller chest. For some reason society has decided what is and isn’t small and what is and isn’t acceptable- something which infuriates me. So please ignore the labels, collections and sizes and just wear what makes you feel confident and what fits and let the fashion world catch up with the rest of us.
My final word has to be for everybody to read Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur, this book has been out for a while now and is deservingly very popular. She splits the book into 4 sections; The hurting, The loving, The breaking and The healing. My favourite section is The Healing, where she focusses on Body positivity and Self love, which is where all of the above photos were taken from. Although this book focusses on femininity and relationships, I would totally encourage any guys to read this too, these poems can apply to anyone. She sums it up best simply by saying “accept yourself as you were designed”.
If anyone has any thoughts on this topic I would be really interested to hear in the comments, but please keep it kind!
Finally if anybody feels like they need support with their body image, here are a couple of resources.