Fostering Body Positivity In a Culture That Values Unrealistic Beauty Standards
In a world that is increasingly focused on appearance and perfection, it can be challenging to foster a positive body image and self-acceptance. Everywhere we look, we are bombarded with images of unattainable beauty standards that can leave us feeling inadequate, insecure, and unhappy. From the fashion, beauty, and entertainment industries to social media, unrealistic beauty standards are perpetuated and reinforced on a daily basis. With celebrities and influencers editing their bodies and showing off their skin, body comparison and negative body image are inevitable and as a result, lead to low self-esteem and mental disorders. This Women’s Day, we dish out ways to foster body positivity amid a culture that values unrealistic beauty.
UNREALISTIC BEAUTY STANDARDS
Unrealistic beauty standards are a pervasive issue in our society, and they can have a profound impact on individuals and communities. These standards, which are largely driven by the media and popular culture, promote a narrow and often unattainable ideal of beauty that can lead to negative body image, low self-esteem, and a range of other psychological and emotional challenges. The fashion, beauty, and entertainment industries are particularly guilty of promoting unrealistic beauty standards, and they often feature airbrushed and altered images of models and celebrities that are impossible to achieve in real life.
All the unrealistic posts on Instagram and Facebook along with filters and photo-editing apps distort teens and young adults's expectations of the human body and drive viewers to aspire to conform to an impossible beauty standard. Beyond that, many celebrities and influencers have been exposed for editing their bodies to look a certain way for the gram.
Teenagers and young adults, meanwhile, continue to experience increasing pressure to meet these norms.
THE BATTLE WITH BODY IMAGE
According to research, 34% of men and 80% of women have an unfavourable perception of their bodies. People who are self-conscious about their appearance frequently struggle with depression, eating disorders, and low self-esteem. These symptoms have increased as a result of the widespread usage of social media. To support this, teenagers acknowledge that social media has a detrimental impact on their self-image. Both men and women succumb to inevitably comparing themselves to unrealistic standards, be it an actress in a bikini or a gym goer pushing weights. Social media and the unrealistic postings and facade only increase societal beauty pressures and thereby harms mental health.
EMBRACING BODY POSITIVITY
Body positivity is a movement that encourages individuals to embrace and love their bodies, regardless of their shape, size, or appearance. In recent years, body positivity has become a popular topic, with more and more people recognising the importance of self-acceptance and body confidence. The body positivity movement is a prime example of how our society's collective consciousness has changed and evolved to take into account novel social concepts. Due to the widespread misperception that the movement actively encourages physically harmful lives, many individuals have been reluctant to embrace it. The body positivity movement promotes inclusion rather than obesity.
Some may think body positivity is about taking care of your body — exercising and eating well, however, it means doing what feels best physically and mentally — not depriving yourself or forcing yourself to change or participate in anything that could be detrimental to your health and wellbeing based on outside forces and opinions.
With the inclusion of various body types represented in media, like campaigns, magazines, movies, and TV shows, people would become at ease and embrace their own bodies. These representations would influence teens and young adults to look at their bodies more positively if varied body types are made popular and the false beauty standards of social media are broken. By defying social media's false beauty standards and making various body shapes more accepted, teens and young adults will develop more positive self-images.
Here are some tips you can practise to encourage body positivity:
- Appreciate all that your body can do. Our body is amazing — it can bring us one step closer to our goals everyday. Appreciate the lengths it goes to and celebrate the beautiful things your body does for you, such as letting you run, dance, breathe, laugh, and dream.
- Keep a top-ten list of things you like about yourself — list out attributes that have nothing to do with your weight or appearance. Read your list as often as you can. You can add to the list as you go on discovering more positive traits about yourself.
- Affirm that “true beauty” is not skin-deep. Being comfortable in your own skin and feeling good about yourself instil confidence, self-acceptance and openness; and that makes you beautiful. Beauty is a mental state, not a physical one.
- Look at yourself as a whole person. Don’t focus on a specific body part when looking in a mirror. Consider yourself as a whole person, as you would like people to perceive you.
- Surround yourself with positive people. When you are surrounded by people who are encouraging and understand the value of accepting yourself as you are, it is simpler to feel good about yourself and your body.
- Stop listening to the voices in your head that accuse you of being a "bad" person or that your body is not "right." With optimistic thoughts, you can overcome those negative ones. The next time you see yourself being critical of yourself, quickly remind yourself of a few affirmations that are effective for you.
- Put on comfy clothing that enhances your self-confidence. Work with, not against, your body.
- Develop a critical eye for social media messages. Object, write a letter to the advertiser on pictures, catchphrases, or stances that promote negative body image.
- Pamper yourself with any activities that would pay homage to your body like taking a bubble bath or doing mani pedi or going to the park to unwind and relax.
- Divert your time and energy to helping others instead of worrying about food, calories, and your weight. Sometimes, reaching out to others might improve your self esteem and have a positive impact on your life.