So, as I’m sure many of my readers are aware, 12th-19th May is Mental Health Awareness Week (I’ve JUST got there on time with this post!) This year, the topic is body image: How we view ourselves and our bodies.
As someone who has suffered with an eating disorder for around 7 years, body image is a topic I’m beyond passionate about and interested in. How an individual perceives their body is an extremely important concept, as it often impacts their personal level of self-worth and self-love.
Unsurprisingly, I’m a huge advocate for body positivity. Whether someone is big, small, average or anything in-between, I believe everyone is allowed to love themselves. Something that I find personally frustrating is seeing people slander naturally thin people to try and compliment larger people – this is NOT how it works. I can’t even believe this is something I have to state, but people still don’t seem to realise that you don’t have to put someone down in order to bring someone else up. An underweight person can be beautiful at the same time as an overweight person. As long as an individual is taking whatever steps they can to be their healthiest, happiest self, who are we to judge?
On the flip side to this, there’s ‘fat shaming’. The amount of people putting down overweight/obese people is astonishing and I can’t count how many people I’ve seen participating it on one hand – I’ve legitimately seen hundreds. Newsflash: I think people suffering with obesity know their body weight isn’t healthy. They don’t need someone on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram telling them that. Something I think may be is important to note is that some people cannot control their weight due to many reasons, for example they may be on medication that causes weight gain, or they may have an eating disorder such as Binge Eating Disorder (BED) or Bulimia that causes them to gain weight/leaves it hard for them to lose it. Does this mean they shouldn’t be able to feel confident sometimes? To put it bluntly: It baffles me that so many people take offence to an obese/overweight person being happy.
I’m aware that many people believe blog posts are supposed to be relatively unbiased and more factual than opinionated, but body image is something that is too close to my heart to not involve my raw emotions in this post. These images people share of obese people calling them ‘disgusting’ are actually real-life people with real feelings and emotions, which is something I think many people seem to forget. Just because people are bullying them through a screen rather than face-to-face, doesn’t mean it won’t take a possible blow to the victims self-esteem.
Now that rant is over, I want to move on to the media. I’m sure the media is a topic included in the majority of blog posts you guys may have read, so I’m not going to go into too much detail about it. Whilst I think the media is a massive influence on people’s (especially young women/women in general) body image, I disagree it’s a leading cause to people developing eating disorders. Don’t get me wrong, of course it does cause many people’s eating disorders to develop and doesn’t help prevent it in other people’s cases, but I do personally believe the majority of eating disorders are developed due to more complex issues. However, that’s a topic I’ll go into more in depth in another blog post. For now, let’s stay on track and stick with general body image in terms of the media.
The media is notorious for shaming people’s (especially women’s) bodies in magazines, on the internet and, well, through any other media platform you can think of people. In almost any magazine you can turn to a page and see a celebrity being put down for her cellulite, stretch marks, or ‘flab’. Of course this is not something young girls should be reading as it can cause serious body image issues as they grow older. Photoshopping is another issue. Personally, I think every individual has the right to edit their picture as long as they are transparent about it, letting their viewers know that they don’t naturally look that ‘perfect’. However, this is where the issue comes: Not enough people, especially Instagram influencers, are transparent. This is something that massively effected my body image at a young age, and I guess to some extent still does. Luckily, as I’ve grown older I’ve stopped comparing myself to these ‘Instagram models’ and famous celebrities in magazines and online as much because I’ve dedicated years to learning to love my body and accept it for all it’s impurities and imperfections. It goes without saying that the media really needs to take a step back and realise how badly they are effecting young people’s body images through these images and comments. Quite frankly, it’s inhumane.
Do any of you have any personal issues you’d like to share surrounding your body image and the media? Or do you know someone who has? Furthermore, what is your opinion on ‘fat shaming’? Let me know down in the comments – I’d be interested to hear your stories and thoughts!
Lots of love,