I was both surprised and saddened to hear that according to the Mission Australia youth survey 2013, body image is the third greatest area of concern for young people aged between 11 and 25 in Australia. A massive 42.1% of females indicated that body image was a major concern.
What is body image?
“Body image is your attitude towards your body – how you see yourself, how you think and feel about the way you look and how you think others perceive you. Your body image can be influenced by your own beliefs and attitudes as well as those of society, the media and peer groups.”
So how do we become happier, prouder and more confident in our bodies?
Those who ridicule others by the way they look do so out of insecurity and are threatened by the differences of others. One of the most empowering things we can all do is to embrace our differences and uniqueness and be proud of them. Differences are what makes life interesting – they add diversity and character to individuals. One of the most debilitating things we can do is make comparisons with others – it’s a massive mistake.
We all have elements of ourselves that aren’t exactly the way we would like. In todays society, there is a real emphasis placed on “perfection” thanks to television, magazines and media. The reality is entirely different because nobody is perfect, if there were such a thing as the perfect person then we would have a benchmark for perfection. We all have flaws, we might dislike certain things about ourselves that others adore about us and without them, we simply wouldn’t be us. Our perception of ourselves might be entirely different to the perception of others and we are the harshest of critics.
Growing up, I don’t have too many memories of feeling concerned, embarrassed or anxious about my body. Perhaps my skinny legs were the only thing I occasionally found myself being self conscious about. Ironically, those skinny legs are now gone and have been replaced by even skinnier metallic prosthetics that look nothing like the flesh and bone that were once there. As one little girl recently said, “Look Mummy! It’s a robot-skeleton!”
How do I accept and embrace this unique and often confronting appearance? How do I walk around in shorts with any sort of confidence? It might seem unrealistic to some, but I love it!
Looking at others and comparing myself in any way would be a fruitless exercise. They’re not going to grow back, so I have learnt to embrace them, be proud of them and look at them as a reminder that they are now just a part of what makes me ME.
We each get one body, so we must learn to love it in order to focus on a more productive, positive existence. Here are 3 simple ways we can all learn to love our bodies:
1. Own yourself – Learn to like what you see in the mirror. Own the quirks and differences that make you unique and differentiate you from the crowds. Project confidence by being proud and comfortable in your own skin
2. Be kind – Be kind to your body, nourish it with the right foods and exercise regularly.
3. Ignore ignorance – I know it is easier said than done, but we need to try to understand that when others say unkind things about our appearance, it’s a flaw on their side, not ours.
Move forward with confidence, embrace what makes you different and flaunt it to the world rather than hiding it away.