Dealing with body image issues is emotionally taxing because it requires delving into the issue for longer to understand it before we resolve it. The portrayal of an ideal body across the global mainstream media has been eurocentric and people were conditioned to strive and be in line with those standards. Obviously, it caused a rift between them and their bodies, people found it difficult to accept their physique and love it unconditionally. I grappled with body image issues and here's my story of how I dealt with the issues.
Body image essentially refers to an individual's perception of their body. Our thoughts and feelings about our bodies have a lasting impact on our physical and mental health. According to statistics presented by an organisation, 91% of the women feel dissatisfied with their current body structures and resort to dieting to get the ideal physique. In addition, 58% of the college girls feel compelled to be of a certain weight. Furthermore, 95% of people between the age bracket 12-25 years experience eating disorders.
Society has created an image of what an ideal body should look like which has put undue pressure on people to subscribe to those standards. When they do not, it makes me conscious of their bodies, it makes them loathe their bodies. I was mocked and picked up for being skinny when I was younger. Kids would bully me and use typical taunts a skinny person had to brave through which included being equated with a matchstick. I had to bear with unsolicited opinions about my diet as well. I was constantly told to put on weight. "Girls look good as skinny but if you put on some weight you might look even better," everyone commented.
These remarks somehow made me feel negative about my body; they affected my self-esteem. I have been at a juncture where I wished I looked better when I saw myself in the mirror. "If only my hands a little more flesh... or my legs didn't look like matchsticks," I often thought and tried everything I could to look "better". I resorted to eating food that supposedly causes weight gain and I still did not. The entire ordeal left me even more vulnerable; I was disturbed as to why I could not look better.
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The realisation eventually struck that nothing was wrong with my body and that I had to change the way I perceived my body. It dawned on me that I had been cruel to my body because someone else had a different opinion of it. For a long time, I struggled to come around to the fact that just because they did not validate my body being a certain way did not mean that I had to change. Since then my journey towards self-acceptance and embracing my body for what it was began; to love my body unconditionally for enduring the worst days, my anxieties and pain with me.
Unlike the quick transformation reels, you cannot skip to the good part here. You don't overcome all your issues in one go; insecurities keep visiting you at different junctures. At times, insecurities creep up on me when I want to experiment with my clothing. However, I have travelled a long journey toward loving my body and in spite of bad days, I have learned to carry myself with newfound confidence. You have to consistently show up for yourself and that is what I have been practising. The realisation that it is I who has to be comfortable with myself so I don't subscribe to others' standards and feel bad has stayed with me like a shield.
Sharing my story became easier because I thought maybe someone who feels uncomfortable with their bodies will read it and realise they are not alone and it can comfort and motivate them. To all those who are dealing with body image issues, you are enough and so much more beautiful than you believe!
Views expressed are the author's own.