Author: Charlotte, 17
About: Charlotte shares her thoughts on the body positivity movement, how media can affect mental health, and her tips for having a positive body image.
Do you ever feel like your body isn’t good enough? If you do, you are not alone. In fact, approximately 90% of young men and women experience dissatisfaction with their bodies.
This issue has become more and more severe in recent years, as body standards have become too unrealistic to be achieved by anyone. Even people who seem so confident in their own skin may be struggling with their body image more than you could ever imagine!
With social media, it can be really hard to avoid falling into the trap of comparing ourselves to others, especially when it comes to how we look.
Social media and the problem with comparisons
The constant exposure to the media has definitely taken a toll on many people’s mental health. With social media, it can be really hard to avoid falling into the trap of comparing ourselves to others, especially when it comes to how we look.
However, the problem with comparing yourself to what you see on social media is that online everything is carefully filtered and selected. And in the case of influencers, what you see has been organised and presented using professional, expert knowledge because they rely on their content to earn a living.
Why do so many people dislike the concept of body positivity?
Luckily, we have now reached an era where people have realised how unhealthy these social comparisons are and these toxic mindsets can lead to lower self-esteem, depression, suicidal thoughts, and even eating disorders.
The body positivity movement has done a great job of raising awareness around this issue, but not everybody supports the idea of body positivity; some people even think that it’s encouraging people to be unhealthy. I think this couldn’t be further from the truth.
It’s about educating each other, sharing our experiences with body image struggles, learning how to love and care for ourselves, and celebrating each and every unique body type across the globe, for all identities.
What is body positivity about then?
In my opinion, the true meaning of body positivity isn’t about the fact that it’s okay to be a fat woman, or it’s okay to be a skinny man.
Most people want to have things that they don’t have. For instance, people who would be viewed as skinny might want to be curvier or more muscular. Those who are seen as fat might want to have a smaller waist or a six pack. It feels like nobody can ever feel happy about their body in this society.
This is where body positivity comes in. It’s about educating each other, sharing our experiences with body image struggles, learning how to love and care for ourselves, and celebrating each and every unique body type across the globe, for all identities.
Even people who seem so confident in their own skin may be struggling with their body image more than you could ever imagine!
Three tips to help improve body image
Everybody’s body is different and beautiful in its own way. You cannot judge yourself or anyone by their body. Take care of your body and love it!
Instead of working out to change the way your body looks, work out for the sake of taking good care of your body, improving not just your physical but also your mental health.
This is because I know workout video titles on YouTube are often called things like ‘Tiny Waist and Big Bum Workouts in 2 weeks’ or ‘Get Big Muscles and Abs in 3 Days’. All these titles can subtly lead to a toxic mindset where you view exercise only in terms of what it does to your appearance.
We live in a world where everything is so much more accessible than ever, making us take most things for granted, like our health. We mustn't blame ourselves but should remind ourselves about it. This not only makes us feel better in our own skin but also helps us treat our bodies well.
We forget that our body does so many things like pumping blood, breathing, digesting, fighting diseases and more on a daily basis without us even noticing! Our body doesn’t exist just to look good - your life depends on it. You need to listen to your body and take good care of it. Don’t jeopardize your life for some silly beauty standard.
There is no point in comparing your own body with other people’s. First of all, you have no idea what the person you are comparing with had to go through to reach your “ideal” body type. They may have starved themselves, paid millions of dollars and sacrificed their mental health to look like your ideal body. And, at the end of it all, it probably won’t even change how they feel in themselves.
Second of all, you also cannot tell if an individual is healthy just by looking at their body because everybody’s body stores fats differently. A slim person may not be as healthy as you think and a bigger person may be much healthier than you think.
More information and advice
We have tips and advice to help you find the support you need. Take a look at our guides.
Where to get help
However you're feeling, there are people who can help you if you are struggling. Here are some services that can support you.
Offers information and support for anybody affected by eating disorders.
Enter your postcode in the HelpFinder to see what eating disorder support is available in your area.
- Opening times:
- 365 days a year - weekdays (9am - 8pm); weekends (4pm - 8pm)
If you’re under 19 you can confidentially call, chat online or email about any problem big or small.
Can provide a BSL interpreter if you are deaf or hearing-impaired.
Hosts online message boards where you can share your experiences, have fun and get support from other young people in similar situations.
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