Self-acceptance is a common battle many men and women face today. Unfortunately we live in a society that has a very narrow definition of beauty. We have numerous industries (diet,beauty, high fashion) and the media constantly telling us we aren’t good enough. They are constantly telling us we are unacceptable and we should look to change something about ourselves to make us better.
In this blog, I want to explore this topic a little deeper.
When we think of media it’s usually very tabloidy and all about the celebrities in our world. More often than not, we see negative comments from the media, like this celeb has gained so much weight, or look at her awful outfit. Celebrities are shamed for gaining any weight or not looking perfect. Even if we do see something “positive” it’s usually based on someone’s size. Something like, “How I lost 15 pounds and kept it off” with a photo of a celebrity in a bikini on the cover. They receive praise for getting thinner and losing weight. The media is obsessed with the size and weight of celebrities and it makes us focus on our own size and weight. No wonder we are all so obsessed with how our bodies look – because that’s what we are taught!
Magazine and advertisements aren’t any better. Think about those men and women you see on the covers of a magazines, they look perfect don’t they? Those women have no stretch marks and their skin is perfectly clear. Those men have perfectly chiseled abs and bronze skin. But do they? No they don’t – it’s unrealistic! It’s even unrealistic for those models and celebrities who are picked apart in these photos, being “perfected” by someone sitting behind a computer. (Take a look at these celebrity women who spoke out about certain images that they were photoshopped in.) These women, who are supposed to be the “ideal” image of beauty, aren’t even enough. Photoshop has become the norm in what we see every day. They are portraying this image of perfection and they only share pictures that depict what THEY think is beautiful. Because we see this on a daily basis, we are tricked into believing that the women and men we see on magazines actually look that way. We begin to tell ourselves that in order to be beautiful we need to buy diet and beauty products, and become a certain size to make us more beautiful.
The issue with the media portraying beauty in this way is that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, skin tones and the list goes on. Beauty shouldn’t be represented in one physical appearance, but unfortunately that’s what the media is doing. And, because we all have this distorted image of beauty engrained in our heads, we start making unrealistic goals to try and look like these people we see on advertisements. When we can’t reach these unrealistic goals, we get upset, and often try to make drastic changes to get that “perfect body”. We feel pressured to fit in with what’s considered normal in our culture. Enter our diet culture – which has basically been telling us we’re too fat for years.
We’ve been made to believe by our diet culture that success can only be achieved if you become thin, and if you become thin you will finally be happy. Or, if we buy a certain product we will suddenly feel beautiful. A bit ridiculous isn’t it? Basically these industries exploit our insecurities and we feel pressured to purchase their products. And you know what – it works. We often buy these products because we feel that our identity is based on how attractive we are. This why dieting is a multibillion dollar industry. We start to believe that if we can just take a pill or do a strict diet for a month that we will easily be able to keep the weight off. But, it never works does it? Those pills or those strict diets are temporary, and aren’t long term. Not only are they not long term, they are unhealthy! Diet pills should be a no no, putting those drugs into your body is NOT good for you. As for jumping around between strict diets, yo-yo dieting is unhealthy too! When you lose weight that quickly, you will put it back on just as quickly. Constantly losing and gaining weight is not good for your health.
So, I’ve talked about the beauty industry, the diet industry and the media and we’ve learned that they all suck. Well now what? First off, it helps to be aware of these external messages we receive and what they stand for. This can help you navigate your way through these poisonous messages. But what we really need to do is stop listening to these external messages we receive and start embracing who WE are. We all look different for a reason, you’re unique and are the only you out there, so embrace it!
You too are perfect just the way you are. Be grateful for who you are, the body you have and what you can do and start to show yourself some self-love. The relationship we have with ourselves is vital because we will always have ourselves. So try to be nicer to yourself starting today. You deserve it.
Just a girl writing down her thoughts on life post-trauma and body acceptance.