What comes to mind when you think of the word, “body”? Weight, shape, ethnicity, age, hair and eye color? Merriam Webster dictionary describes the body as being “the material part or nature of a human being.”
Wait what? Just the materialistic part of a human? Then why do we, as a society, put so much emphasis on the image of each other’s appearances?
What would our world be like if we focused less on the outside and more on the inside? Well, it may seem impossible to change the world, but we can start by changing ourselves. What would it look like for you to focus on how you feel mentally, emotionally, and physically opposed to how you look externally?
Have you ever walked past a stranger or seen a friend and could just tell that they were just so beautifully jovial? It’s almost as if you could feel the happiness radiating out of them. In that moment did you consider their weight, wrinkle lines or nose? Probably not. This is because beauty goes so much deeper than just how a person appears physically.
So, if that is the case then we jump back to the question as to why our society focuses so heavily on body image. I mean it is literally EVERYWHERE!!! It comes in the form of social media, magazines, television, etc. How do we fight these messages day in and day out? I don’t have all the answers, but I do have one idea. What if we were more intentional about our media exposure? Consider what makes you feel discontent with yourself and make adjustments starting there.
Maybe you could try giving up social media for a bit if you notice that viewing what society sees as a “perfect person” creates a negative image towards yourself. You could possibly turn off Netflix a bit more and pop open that book you’ve always wanted to read but have never had time for. As a 20-year-old female, I understand that completely avoiding media is not always a possible solution, I mean I am literally OBSESSED with Pinteresting (if that is even a verb?).
So, what do I do instead? I’m still a work in progress, but I’ve been trying to monitor what I watch, who I follow and where I invest my time (I mean it is limited anyway!). I also try and keep my post positive and represent what I would like to see while scrolling through my feed. (Don’t forget you have an influence on what goes on in the realm of social media too!) The simple act of following body positive Instagrammers can be a game changer in what you see on your social media feeds.
While it’s impossible to eliminate every body-bashing message from my life, I’m at least on a journey towards believing that I’m an amazing individual who was created exactly as I should be. One social media post at a time. As Gandhi says, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
One final point: self-acceptance. As much as I would love to preach at you about how much you should love yourself because you’re a wonderfully beautiful human being, it wouldn’t have any affect unless you truly believe that yourself. It took me awhile to grasp this concept being a black female growing up in a predominately white school. I hated my curly hair, skin complexion and even my body composition in comparison to others. It wasn’t until coming to college and seeing such a vast variety of people that I learned to appreciate my differences and realize that they are what make me standout as well as unique!
Believe me, I still have my moments. Some days the body-bashing chatter in my head is loud and intense. On those days, I try to remember who I am on the inside and that is the me I choose to cherish, nourish and, most importantly, love.Lexie Miloz, UCAN Health Coach