Beautiful, sexy, attractive, fit; what image comes to your mind when you think of a body type that fits these attributes? Are you comfortable in your own skin, not wanting to change one bit about it? How many of us are able to look at our reflection in the mirror and not feel shame or resentment? There is a lot more to our glorious bodies, but unfortunately, we have reduced their worth to fitting to a certain standard of beauty. You are attractive if you are fit. You are sexy if you have curves or ripped muscles to flaunt. But alas, only a select few can live up to these standards, so where does that leave the rest of us? Also, do we ever stop to think how this sense of shame for our flesh and skin could be harming our wellness?
- Are you comfortable in your own skin, not wanting to change one bit about it?
- How many of us are able to look at our reflection in the mirror and not feel shame or resentment?
- A study has found that women who are unhappy with their breasts are far less likely to check them for changes.
- Rejecting your body can lead to a health crisis.
The objectification of women’s bodies, on the big screen or small, hasn’t just affected the male mindset in our society, it has affected the perception of beauty and attractiveness among women themselves.
A recent study conducted on 18,000 women across 40 countries found that more than two-thirds of women are unsatisfied with the size of their breasts, globally. While 48 percent participants wished their breasts were bigger, 23 percent want them to be smaller. Only 29 percent women participating in the study said they were happy with their breast size. The study also found that women who are unhappy with their breasts are far less likely to check them for changes. This means that a woman who is unhappy with her breast size stands at a higher risk of neglecting changes in her breast. These changes could be fatal, in illnesses such as cancer, if left undetected for long. So if you thought body image issues only have psychological implications on a person’s wellness, think again. And while mental wellbeing is as important as physical well-being, we must admit that this is a new perspective of looking at the hazards of being displeased with our bodies.
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The standards of beauty have been very pronounced and clear for women, thanks to pop culture. If you look at all the divas and women considered traditionally beautiful, there is one thing common, that most of them fit a certain body type. They are well-endowed, when it comes to breasts, have a slim waistline and toned buttocks and legs. The objectification of women’s bodies, on the big screen or small, hasn’t just affected the male mindset in our society, it has affected the perception of beauty and attractiveness among women themselves. We have internalised these superficial and strict body standards, as a result of which, barring a handful of women, all of us detest something or the other about our bodies.
It is a privilege to have a disease-free, healthy body in this day and age and it is about time we began to value that.
Some women want bigger breasts (well a lot many, if you look at the findings of the said study), some want a slimmer waist, or smaller bottoms, or all of the above. With endless diets and workout sessions, a lot of us may be able to bring our weight down, but we always feel that we are that last one inch, or two-and-a-half kilograms away from being the perfect versions of ourselves. If only I can drop down one more dress size! If only my breasts were 36C and not 34C. If only I could lose that last stretch of fat on my hips, if only my skin wasn’t creased and streaked with age and stretch marks. If only. It never ends. And even if it does, you live the rest of your life dreading losing the “beauty” you have worked so hard to achieve.
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This rejection of ourselves leads us to ignore our bodies, we don’t like to look in the mirror at ourselves. But in doing so, we may be putting our well-being at grave risk. It is one thing to be unhappy with your breast size, but it is another to ignore any changes in your breasts that may seem out of the ordinary. Women are often afraid of being judged for their bodies, but we forget, that judging is for beauty pageants, not for your physicians. Your doctor will be much more concerned about that lump in your breast that you have been ignoring, than the size of your breast.
Self-acceptance is the key to better health for women in more ways than one. So stop giving in to the stereotypes we have been fed for ages. It is a privilege to have a disease-free, healthy body in this day and age and it is about time we began to value that.
Image Credit: Maurer foundation
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.