Body Image: The Never-Ending Insecurity
This article contains body dysmorphia.
Growing up, we’re told to love ourselves. We’re beautiful, confident, and strong. As little kids, it can feel as if we don’t have an insecure bone in our body. We’re so consumed with our childhood shenanigans that we don’t notice the pain and the beat-downs the world is about to throw at us. Your gorgeous body becomes disgusting, filthy, fat, etc. Becoming older has its perks, but being exposed to the harsh reality of the world and the cruel people that fill it up can become difficult.
And just like that, we’re on diets, exercise plans, and the latest juice cleanse. We ask ourselves these irrational and unthinkable questions. Why don’t I have the perfect hourglass body? Did I always have this much stomach fat? We look in the mirror and see everything wrong with ourselves as these thoughts begin to plague our minds.
We want to crawl into a closet and never come out. We begin thinking everyone is staring at us, whispering and teasing in mock of our figures. Our insecurity starts to take over our daily lives. We feel like we’re going insane. Our brains keep pounding with these negative thoughts.
Why do we think like this though? How do our minds go from enjoying life to criticizing every flaw of our bodies? Were we born with this mentality or is it something society engrains in us as we grow older?
The Mental Health Foundation states that “higher body dissatisfaction is associated with a poorer quality of life, psychological distress and the risk of unhealthy eating behaviors and eating disorders.” Studies this organization has done show that around one-third of teenagers feel ashamed of their bodies. Although it is highly associated with teenagers, body image affects adults in the same way, in which around 34% feel discontent when thinking about their figures altogether.
Men and women begin to associate what we look like with how we believe society wants us to be shaped. The more we reflect like that, the worse our mental health gets. Self-esteem and body image are not what we see in the mirror, but what is in our heads. We get so caught up with the flaws on our bodies that we don’t recognize the negative effects it has on our capacities.
Personal opinions of our body can run much deeper than negative thoughts. Studies from The National Center for Biotechnology Information conclude that individuals who are dissatisfied with their body image are prone to depression. There is no direct evidence of this, but several tests do show a significant relationship between an individual’s moods and their eating habits.
For instance, when we think “Where’s my thigh gap? Why do my legs look so bad in shorts?”, we associate these feelings with how we are viewed by the world and can become discouraged or depressed. Yet again, when we go to school, we feel as if everyone is looking at us. We get in our heads about how we are not good enough and do not portray the figures of models or influencers.
In our heads, it feels like there is no end to the long days of hating ourselves and the bodies we have. We come home from school or work and stare in the mirror, once again, and wish we could change ourselves. We start spinning with thoughts. Oh my god, how did I go out of the house today? Who noticed my body? Were people just talking behind my back? You start to imagine every inch of yourself changed and different. You begin to despise your entire body to the point where even breathing gets hard.
Remember that little kid, from the beginning, who was obsessed with the simple childhood shenanigans and who dreamt of the amazing world as an adult? Where did the child in us go?
Society took it. It took our positive thoughts, happy times, and good feelings. The kid that loved the little things in the world was unknowingly being immersed into a place that cares about your stomach fat and the acne on your skin; your appearance became the most important factor.
But who said we had to live like this? Why do we feel the need to fit into society’s impossible standards? In the back of our minds, there are positive thoughts that are waiting to be released into the world. They’re the ideas that we should accept all shapes and sizes and not make anyone feel left out because they don’t fit a certain criteria. Instead, we need to create a newfound way of expressing our own individualized beauty.
Accepting our body for how it is can be challenging. We can tell ourselves we love us for who we are, but sometimes that can only go so far. Instead, it’s recommended that we take a proactive mental approach to dealing with our insecurities. This can range from surrounding ourselves with more positive people, becoming critical of what we view on social media, creating a “top-ten things we like about ourselves” list, or reminding ourselves that “true-beauty” is what is inside. A variety of tactics can change the way we think for the better.
Change starts with us, with people like you and me. We need to come together and change our mindsets, so that society truly begins to believe that the perfect body is everybody. Whether an hourglass, stick, or curvy figure, no one should associate their shapes with negativity. The positive mentalities we held when we were children are still true to this very day. We are beautiful, strong, and confident and we can’t allow negative thoughts to get in the way of how we view ourselves. It is our job to change the way society operates in order to have the future generations of children keep their positive and innocent attitudes throughout their entire lives!