Body image & self acceptance

There has already been written a lot about body image and body positivity but I feel like still there is a bit of a taboo when it really comes down to showing your ‘imperfections’.

We easily tell others to be proud of their bodies and that every single body is beautiful, but really showing your confidence about your own body still is something else. Most of the time we cheer for people who say they’re proud of who they are and what they look like, but how many times do these people really show they mean what they say? A lot of so-called influencers on social media surround themselves with people of all kinds of weights and hope they transmit a positive message that way. Of course, that’s all fine but most of the time these influencers themselves look like they’re coming right out of a beauty commercial and have – what is still seen as – the perfect body. Moreover, they often use photoshop so can we as ‘followers’ really believe what they say when it comes to loving your own body?

I feel like there’s by far not enough realness out on the internet. How often do we really see people as they are in real life? Not much. And even if we do, it’s probably a picture of someone who looks confident about her/his body and its imperfections… but maybe isn’t confident at all behind her/his screen. The amount of body positivity accounts is rising and that’s a good thing. I’m sure there are some really inspirational people behind them, but not every person has the same real and pure message to spread. Pictures, even those from ‘body positivity activists’, tell a story and stories are often not like reality at all.

So how can we love our bodies if there are so little examples that show us we don’t need to look perfect and even confident because of this to fit in? Society practically tells us to hide ourselves by giving the impression that imperfections are a bad thing. Almost every public figure spends hours in hair and make-up just to ‘look good’ on screen. People who are watching often think that’s what these people look like all the time and start comparing them to what they see. One of the possible consequences is a low self-esteem. Of course this isn’t always the case. Some people are simply happy with the way they look.

Jesy Nelson, member of Little Mix, was one of these people until she got confronted with ugly comments on social media. In the documentary ’the odd one out’ she shares what she has been through after winning the X-factor. What should have been the best day of her life, became a day she would rather forget. People online called her ’the fat and ugly one’ in the group who ‘didn’t deserve to live’. For the first time she felt bad about the way she looked and she got caught in these negative feelings by starting to believe what these people were saying. It’s terrible that random people form an opinion about someone based on appearance, just because they don’t look like what they believe is the right way to look. It’s easy to write these comments while hiding behind a screen but these internet trolls should realize they can ruin someone’s life by doing this. 

Of course it’s not only social media that can contribute to a low self-esteem. There are so many oils being sold that promise to let your scars (such as stretch marks and cellulite) disappear. As if you should get rid of them because ‘it is a bad thing’ to have. The truth, that too often isn’t told, is that almost everyone has these marks (including me) and that oils most of the time don’t help. Nobody ever tells you getting stretch marks simply is a part of growing up and getting older. You have to discover these changes yourself while feeling as if your body gets uglier. If these things would get normalized and shown more in the media, at least we would know it’s normal and we shouldn’t be ashamed because we’re suddenly getting these marks.

Although I’m aware everyone has them, I personally don’t feel like sunbathing on the beach in a bikini while other people can see me, I’m not going to lie about that. But is that a problem? From the way I see it, it’s not. It’s not because we don’t like to show our stretch marks or any other scars, we don’t accept them. I get that they are a part of me and seeing them doesn’t make me feel uncomfortable (anymore). I think your own acceptance is much more important than showing the world you accept yourself, which I believe has become the norm nowadays since our lives are so public because of social media. Accepting yourself just the way you are, is an important step to happiness. 

It’s hard to be happy with ourselves when we get confronted with so many platforms where people push us in the direction to change ourselves. I think that in the end it comes down to how strong we are to keep being who we are and ignore what other people say. It’s not always easy but I believe that if we are kind to and not so hard on ourselves, we can make it work. And most of all we should realize that what we see in the media most of the time isn’t like reality at all. We are real and we should keep it that way. 

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