What better time than Spring to stand up and rebut the never-ending body-hating diatribe that begins in the lead up to Summer?
How many posts, articles, videos and calls to action to get “beach body ready” have you seen in the last 2 weeks?
How many times have you read that we have gained too much over the winter and that we will humiliate ourselves if we have gained a winter pooch?
How many diets, exercise programs, and shame messages have you heard about this spring?
The body hate industry, which makes billions of dollars by explaining to us how everything from feet to our hair is wrong and need to be fixed. No one is immune, people of all genders are targeted but as women, we seem to be chosen to receive a special level of attention from this industry.
More and more men are diagnosed with eating disorders and face the pressures of never looking good enough to fit society’s standards. People who identify outside the binary undoubtedly feel the pressures although I am unaware of specific studies that report on that (if you know of any please share). Regardless of gender or age, we all see these messages and internalise the message at some level.
A simple way to push back is to, understand how to challenge it, and decide to do better for yourself and therefore changing how those in the future face these messages. We have three things you can start doing today to switch from body shame to body love.
1. Know where the message comes from
You may feel like there is no point pushing back because these messages are everywhere. That we've all been assimilated into certain ideas about bodies, beauty and desire and resistance is futile. At Bliss we believe that resistance is not futile, in fact, it is vital, it is a must that we fight back, if not for ourselves, for all the kids growing up. We can take steps to reduce the chance that they will grow up feeling like they can never measure up. We can help stop them from developing a sense of frustration and hate towards their own bodies. We have the ability to stop this cycle. The beauty industry has always thrived. It will continue to thrive but we must remember that its ideal standards have changed a million times over throughout human history and there is no reason that it cannot be changed now.
From body shapes of the Rubenesque period when curvy and soft was the ideal to thin and flat ideals of the 1920s to the painfully thin, heroin-chic ideal of the 1990s, what is considered beautiful has changed throughout history. You don’t have to look far to know that hairstyles have changed dramatically through history but did you know that pre-1920s America, neither women nor men regularly shaved their body hair (including pubes). We still found each other sexually attractive. This is all without mentioning other culture's ideas of beauty through history.
The idea of “perfect” is subjective and the reality is that imperfection is the human experience.
2. Choose Mindfulness.
In the age of social media, we have the luxury of constantly being connected, but we have never been so lonely. Today we not only get exposed to toxic messages in magazines and on the TV but thanks to the luxury of constant connection we are exposed 24hrs a day.
Now we are aware of the fickle idea of beauty through history, that the toxic messages are flawed and finically driven, we can choose to reject them. We can refuse to buy into the opinions that do not serve our physical or mental health. We can be mindful of who we follow on social media, choosing to only expose ourselves to those that share body positive messages, those who repeat the messages we need to hear every day to nurture our physical and mental health.
Fashion my shrink dramatically in summer (and every other season for that matter) but that does not mean you have to show more skin if you do not want to do so. You can choose to wear a more modest fashion and still look stylish, you can choose to wear less clothing and still look stylish too. Whatever you choose, when you start feeling the pressure to fit a certain mold, pause and ask yourself, “who does this serve?” If it serves your beliefs, nurtures your mental health and positive self-talk then wear it confidently.
Are your choices your choices? Or are they the marketing machine? Does hating your cellulite make you a better person? Or does it feed the negative voices in your head that lead you to make choices or purchases that feed the downward spiral? Being mindful of the choices, the self-talk, the messages you are internalising can completely change your self-perception and feelings about your body.
3. Be the Change You Want to See
Being mindful of messages and choices, being mindful of the impact they have on you as an individual is a form of social disruption and is in a way an expression of rebellion. It breaks the cycle of unrealistic perfection that feeds the money-making marketing machine. You make the choice not to engage, to choose self-love and kindness, which can lead to better physical, mental and financial health. These choices will be noticed by others too.
In being aware of the unrealistic perfection we see all around us we must take opportunities to educate young people that what they see on social media and traditional media, is not real, that they can choose who they follow and in the end, they can choose self-love and kindness for themselves. We must be the change we want to see even when we know that self-love is easier said than done.
I know this article is not going to change the world, I know it is not going to be the magic wand that changes how you feel 100% tomorrow or is the catalyst for society totally rejecting the beauty industry standards. I do hope that it reminds you that we are all human, the perfection is not real and that there is beauty in being you. That you remember you have a choice and that your thoughts are your own. That you know small steps and daily conscious efforts are how we start to examine what we believe and how we process what we think. In doing this as conscious rebels can in our own way influence and set a new norm for the next generation. You are unique and in that is the true beauty of being human.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this document should be read as general in nature and is only to provide and overview of the subject matter. Please read product packaging carefully and follow all instructions. Seek advice specific to your situation from your medical professional or mental health professional.