How in the world do we go about developing a sense of self love and acceptance in this appearance-obsessed world?
Everywhere I go I overhear conversations focused on maintaining/achieving a certain body type.
“This week starts my new diet.”
“Oh god, now I have to go run ten miles to burn off this muffin.”
“Do these jeans make me look fat?”
“I’ll love myself once I lose that extra ten pounds.”
Hearing these simple phrases makes my stomach drop to my knees. I know all of these phrases too well. Disordered eating and skewed self-perception have plagued my life for the last 5 years of my life, and I am just now making an everyday conscious effort to dig myself out of the hole of negativity surrounding my body and how I fuel it.
“But you’re so skinny; you can eat whatever you want. You have no idea what it’s like to be dissatisfied with yourself.”
I’ve also heard this line time and time again. But I have learned that your size or shape or age or gender or ethnicity or sexual orientation doesn’t matter because we all deal with body insecurity from time to time. The concerning matter, though, is that the number of people that struggle from severe body dysmorphia is constantly on the rise. And yet we still hold onto the idea that only those of us who look a certain way are suffering. We tell those who say they are hurting that their feelings are unwarranted and that they need to get over it. We don’t realize that dismissing the issue does not make it disappear.
It seems as though it is now the norm to be more concerned with how we look than how we act and treat other people. We are beginning to see ourselves as objects. Not loving, soulful, and exuberant human beings that offer so many gifts to the world. Since when does that number on the scale define our relationships or our muscle definition or lack thereof represent our gracious hearts?
I type these words with ease, yet in reality I still fight the enemies in my head about my physical appearance everyday. It is HARD to quiet that noise that tells you you’re too weak, too out of shape, too big, too small, too timid, too loud, too tall, too short. With all the negative voices, it can feel as though your brain is the battleground of a mental war. But I believe it is our duty to execute the bravest military tactic in this great battle: we must learn to tune out the voices of negativity and fire back at them with canons of body acceptance.
The process can start small. We can tell ourselves that we are beautiful just the way we are when we look in the mirror, even if at first we don’t believe it. We can let others know how much they mean to us, complimenting them on the qualities that we admire. (I guarantee you that these qualities have absolutely nothing to do with their physical appearance). But most importantly, we can cut ourselves some slack when we’re having one of those bad body image days. These days are inevitable. The ability to keep on trucking on during these days is one substantial feat, one that should be celebrated.
Perhaps it is an oversimplification, but I believe that “the cure,” or closest thing to a cure to all of this body bashing and negative self talk lies in simple awareness. We can’t even begin to address the issues within ourselves and the world around us if we don’t first acknowledge that there is an issue. Body dissatisfaction shouldn’t be the norm. We all are too awesome to deny ourselves of our greatness.