By Divyasri Chakraborty
George Elliot, in his book, “The Mill on the Floss” (1860) said that “You can’t judge a book by its cover”. However, usually the cover is the first thing that captures the attention of the most of us. These days people are solely judged based on their external appearance. In this new age of “Barbie” and “G. I. Joe”, we are constantly criticised about how we should shed those extra pounds by dieting or lose our “baby fat” by exercising vigorously. On the other end individuals who are underweight are constantly judged for their weight or how they could eat more.
Body shaming is something that many of us have to deal with constantly. It can come from friends, family, loved ones or strangers. It might be conscious or unconscious. Some of us choose to ignore them while some of us are deeply wounded by them and might suffer endlessly in silence. These hurts might be manifested in ways of body dissatisfaction and unhealthy behaviour caused as a result of negative body image. Damaging behaviour might reach the extent of resorting to techniques like fat reduction surgery or plastic surgeries and silicon implantation. Some people also opt for damaging steroids and hormonal injections, while some others consume dietary supplements to achieve their targets.
The National Eating Disorder Collaboration of Australia (NEDA) defines “body image” as the view a person has about their physical appearance and the thoughts following because of that observation.
Some ways to build a positive body image are as follows.
Set a fresh mind-set
Work towards positive goals in terms of overall health and well-being than only focusing on weight, size or shape of your body. Being fit is not synonymous to being slim or having a perfect height-weight ratio. A combination of proper nutrition, balanced physical exercise and a positive outlook is the key to well-being.
Tackle negative thoughts with positive ones
Being mindful to what we say to ourselves throughout the day will help us avoid self critical thoughts. Making an effort to say positive things to ourselves daily is an effective way to enhance body image. For instance, saying “You are beautiful” to our reflection in the mirror.
Recognising your positive qualities, talents and achievements in life helps in building a positive body image.
Be Media Smart
The fashion industry and media have created unhealthy notions about beauty and attractiveness worldwide. Beauty has become synonymous with “hourglass figure” or “eight pack abs”. The real beauty lies within each individual and not in their external appearance.
Watch what you say
We are all imperfect and that’s what makes us humanbeings. Body shaming is something we need not indulge in and also encourage others to do the same.
Do not compare
We are all unique and beautiful in our own ways. Embrace diversity and avoid comparing your external beauty with someone else.
Ask for help
Don’t suffer in silence. Talk to a therapist about your issues. Body image issues are valid and vital.
“Beauty shouldn’t be about changing yourself to achieve an ideal or be more socially acceptable. Real beauty, the interesting, truly pleasing kind, is about honouring the beauty within you and without you. It’s about knowing that someone else’s definition of pretty has no hold over you.” ― Golda Poretsky (“Stop dieting now”, 2010).
This is something we all understand. Let us learn to treasure ourselves and also encourage others to do the same. It will not only help us to achieve complete personal well-being but it will also help one evolve as a better human being.