I saw a woman passing by in a store and thought she was prettier than me. And then that happened; thousands of questions started bumping into my mind.
At the store, I was startled by catching my reflection in a mirror. I strolled around the store and saw beautiful body-con dresses, but something else was juggling in my mind.
Yes, it was the image of the girl I saw previously and I started to think that she had clearer skin than me. She seems slimmer, too. What is it that she has and I don’t? Why do I feel this way about myself all the time? I wish that I could be as pretty as she is. Sometimes, I really wish to be admired by people the way others are. I wish I could get those compliments instead of advice about what I should do to look a certain way. My head was clouded with these thoughts. My insecurities took control over me, and I never bought the dress even though I loved it.
Has the same happened to you? Ever wondered why we think this way? Let’s find it out!
What is Body Image, and how is it affecting us?
Body image is how we think and feel about ourselves genuinely and accept others see us. When we talk about body image, there are heaps of ways we can contemplate our bodies and how we look.
It can either be positive or negative, but we all wish that our nose could be sharper, or we could have a thinner waist by following a strict diet regime, or if we inculcated new skincare products, we could have a glass looking spotless skin. The list is endless.
For years, women have been forced to look a “certain way.” Insecurities and self-doubts about how they look and how they perceive themselves have been ingrained in them since childhood. We are forced to feel that we are not beautiful enough and we don’t fit into the conventional standards of beauty which are created by society.
Media representation of women with slim bodies, fair skin, tall, and long beautiful hair often makes other females feel that they aren’t good enough. This makes me hate the rolls of my stomach, stretch marks, unruly hair, or even an idea of the sign that I have body hair.
Unfortunately, we live in a society where we are only told about our flaws. No one teaches us how to truly appreciate what we have and look beyond our looks to respect our worth and ourselves.
To all the women out there, this one’s for you. Here are some tips to inculcate self-love and body- positivity in your lives –
1. Create your definition of beauty.
One of the most important pieces of advice is to disassociate yourself from the “media standards of beauty” they are completely unrealistic and instill negativity for your body which is unfair to the body which has supported and been taken care of you ever since you took birth. It’s time to give it back to yourself and give yourself the appreciation that you deserve.
2. Follow your heart.
We need to break the patterns of unrealistic beauty standards which have been imposed on us for years and redefine our definitions of beauty. As women, we have always been told what to do, from the moisturizer we use to the hair oil we use or how we shouldn’t eat burgers because they can make us fat. All these “advice, tips, or lifestyle changes” are mostly for women, and we are expected to follow them. There are many ways to accept yourself as you are and indulge in self-love.
3. Change the cliché narrative that looking a certain way would make you feel happy.
To start the journey of “I love the way I look,” one needs to ditch the narrative that looking a particular way will make you feel happier. We are often sold the idea that looking a certain way will make our lives happier and will make us feel more valued and loved. But all of this is a myth. Happiness, peace, and respect for yourself come from within. This notion is entirely dependent on how you look at yourself. You have the power to change the narrative! To learn to love your body, you have to stop judging yourself and others. All women deserve to be accepted and loved in their exact bodies.
4. Be mindful of who you follow on social media.
These super-thin, gleaming, breath-taking looking superstars and unscripted television competitors you follow on Instagram? You could believe they’re harmless to look at, yet research shows us endlessly time again that exposure to media, including unreasonable body types, is connected to bringing down self-esteem. Take charge of what pictures and messages you allow into your mind. Follow the accounts that show bodies as you have.
5. Develop habits that feed your body and soul.
Developing a habit that makes you feel good about your body can be as simple as applying a face mask or putting on make-up for no reason at all but because it makes you feel good. This will help you to have positive feelings about yourself. Always practice gratitude for your body; try to be thankful for it every day.
6. Moving your body.
Exercise. We often look at it as a way to lose weight or sculpt our bodies and turn a nourishing activity into something which we perceive negatively. It is a way to love yourself.
7. Your body is a piece of Art.
Sometimes, we avoid wearing clothes that highlight our “trouble areas” and choose the clothes which cover those areas so that people don’t give us taunts or advice. All our lives as women, we have given control of our lives to others. Dress your body like it’s a piece of art.
Lastly, you will heal when you start loving yourself. Give yourself the validation you seek! This is a journey that will take a long time, but it will be worthwhile. Do it for you because you can.