Mental Health Awareness Month – Body Image

Aloha, it’s been a while but I’m here to talk about something super important and that is the concept of Mental Health as it’s Mental Health Awareness Week. There’s lots of things I don’t feel comfortable discussing on this blog and maybe one day I will but right now I’m focusing on this year’s theme of Body Image.  Disclaimer: I am in no way a professional and I urge anyone who is suffering with mental health issues to see their GP or go to A&E if you are feeling suicidal. TW: Body image, body shaming, eating disorder, fat shaming, 

Body image can be defined by “the perception that a person has of their physical self and the thoughts and feelings that result from that perception.
These feelings can be positive, negative or both, and are influenced by individual and environmental factors”. 

Perception is everything when it comes to body image. If you look in the mirror and make a snap judgement about yourself “Oh my god, I look so ugly and I feel fat and worthless” then it’s bound to completely jeopardise your day and how you feel about yourself. The BBC reported the results of a survey which found that a third of 4,500 “adults felt anxious about their bodies, with one in eight experiencing suicidal thoughts”.

This figure is shocking and prompts the question: “why are we so critical about the way we look?”. Why is fat shaming/any sort of shaming still a thing? Why is there a body shape that is considered perfect’ and why are men and women constantly pressured to look a certain way. I blame social media for part of it. With apps like Instagram, looking ‘perfect’ is something that is integral to one’s lifestyle. Filters and angles add to the pressure of making one look picture perfect and with the rise in celebrities coming out about the use of photoshop in the media, body image is increasingly problematic in the media. ‘Flaws’ can be airbrushed, lightened or increased or decreased in size and it’s a problem because it teaches us that we must dislike these characteristics of our body. Celebrities such as Jameela Jamil are drawing attention to the problematic side of social media and highlighting issues with fat shaming and body shaming, encouraging us to feel more empowered and love ourselves. Check out my blog post about her here.

I’ve definitely fallen prey to the wicked ideals of body image on social media a few times. I decide to upload a picture of myself and then scrutinise myself, scanning my entire body for flaws that I can crop out or add filters to so I appear more desirable. Or there’ll be times where I’m getting ready and I look at myself in the mirror and I hate what is looking back. Why is my stomach so bloated? Why are my eye bags not going away? Why is my skin so discoloured at times? These questions constantly go through my head and I end up going through my entire closet until I feel comfortable with what I’m wearing/covering, or putting on enough make up until I look ‘ok’. Or making plans on how I can change my appearance so I’m happier with how I look (hah that gym membership still needs to happen)

I have to remind myself that everyone experiences certain characteristics and as I’m not a celebrity with access to a personal trainer, plastic surgeons and a dietician, it’s not gonna be as easy as snapping my fingers and shapeshifting into someone I prefer to look like. Yes I have eye bags and discoloration but that is something a lot of Indians experience and comes with my heritage. Yes sometimes my stomach swells in size even when I haven’t eaten anything but that comes with having Crohn’s Disease which has messed up my intestines so much that I need to have surgery in order to fix this and there’s nothing I can do otherwise about this. Being Indian doesn’t always help because Indians love commenting on people’s weight (lol) but I’m learning to ignore that and accept my body is changing and no one needs to comment on it. Yes sometimes I hate the way I look and I’ll put some make up on or skip meals and then hide behind big clothes because I feel disgusting when I look at the mirror but I’m reminding myself that I have a normal body and I deserve to nourish myself and not care about what others think. There isn’t always bad ‘body image’ days. Sometimes I’ll dye my hair and feel empowered like a punk princess. I guess it’s because my hair is something I have control over and I don’t have a lot of control over things related to my body but I’m slowly learning that it’s okay. With so many positive body empowering women I follow in Instagram and Twitter, I’m slowly realising that there are lots of body types out there and instead of focusing on the flaws, you gotta remind yourself of the positives and ‘werk it’. Instead of following celebrities that endorse weight loss teas (cough cough Kartrashians), follow empowering women such as singer Lizzo, Jameela Jamil, Cupcakke rapper and lots more!

No matter your sexuality, race, gender, ethnicity etc you don’t have to let anyone dictate how you should look. Remember, you’re amazing and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise <3. A “hells yeah” to all my fellow beauties who aren’t comfortable with the way they look, I gotchu.

 

 

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