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Society tells us we should love ourselves, we should be happy with the way we look and embrace our flaws. We are also told by society we need to be perfect, look a certain way and be a certain size to be accepted. It tells us that if we are “fat” we are going to die and if we are “too skinny” we may also die. No matter how we look, we are fighting a losing battle and it’s no wonder we are struggling with body image now more than ever. With photo editing regularly used by the majority, it’s easier to show ourselves in a different light online.
You can hardly go throughout a day without seeing something regarding our appearance or way to improve ourselves. Vitamins, new clothes, weight loss aids, the perfect smile, the latest skincare you NEED in your life to look younger, or the easy ways to conceal your acne and ultimately becoming the best version of yourself. This impacts us whether we are 13 or 93. Yet we are still told to love ourselves as we are all beautiful and it’s about what’s on the inside that counts. I’m not sold on that concept.
This week is mental health awareness week (13-19th of May) and this year it’s about body image. This is an issue that most of us have struggled with at some point in our lifetime. The mission this year is to create a more positive image around our bodies, as after all our body image and the way we feel about ourselves impacts our mental health. On a massive scale. For those who struggle with the way they look it does put them off doing things, whether that is meeting up with friends, going out on a date or going on holiday, body image controls these situations. For me, body image is at the forefront of the majority of my downward spirals. Regardless of whether it’s my acne playing up, feeling fat or disliking my facial features, it’s an exhausting battle to work through, especially in a world where appearance is supposedly one of the most important things.
To my dismay, this will never change. But taking baby steps towards feeling good about the way you look is a fantastic place to start. The way in which you arrive at this conclusion will vary dependent on each person and there isn’t a right way to do this. Whether this means deleting the social media which you feel affects you negatively, not watching model shows, ditching those friends who make you feel unhappy about your body or not going on dating sites like *ahem* Tinder, which can drag you down. It can take a long time to figure out what really is the root of the problem, as a lot of the time we don’t realise the ways in which we are actually affected by until we take a step back.
Growing up around Tumblr, throughout my teens I didn’t realise it was having a negative impact on me, I met so many people that I could talk to on there, I gained a pretty large following and loved answering questions. It wasn’t until I took off the rose-tinted glasses and realised how much I envied the girls on the site, whether it was because they were allowed long hair extensions and I wasn’t, or the bright hair colours which changed every week or if they were super skinny (even though I was at the time, I didn’t see it) they always looked amazing in their baggy shirts, fishnets and backcombed hair. I felt like I was constantly comparing myself to them and when I stopped using the site I felt 3000x times better about my body image.
So many people wish they looked like somebody else, and then that person wishes they looked like somebody else, you see where I’m going with this? Nobody is ever truly happy with their body 100% of the time, but you deserve to love your body as much as you can. Your mental health is much more important than the way you look.
I often use humour to deflect how I feel about my appearance and it tends to make a situation feel comfortable as it gives us something to laugh at. As a result, I’ve ruined pretty much any self-confidence I’ve had over the years. Plus, if you say the terrible things about yourself, it feels like when others say it, it feels a lot less painful. Amiright? But it’s about time I aim towards making myself feel good, well… about me, rather than becoming the joke. I am going to take the steps towards loving myself instead of hating myself. The way I look doesn’t define me as a person and I’m starting to realise this more and more each day. It starts by finding the parts of you which you “don’t mind” and turn that into a like, then from that into love. The more you tell yourself you like something about the way you look, the confidence will continue to grow. A final piece of advice to end this post, don’t say anything to yourself you wouldn’t say about your best friend, that tends to make us think twice about what we are saying, as nobody really wants to hurt their best friend.
To find out more about what the Mental Health Foundation is doing this year for Mental Health Awareness week, check out their site here. Or alternatively, if you’re looking for help with your confidence I’ve done a variety of body confidence posts on my blog.