Believe it or not, just about everyone has struggled with body image at one point in their lives. Humans like to be comfortable in their surroundings; when it feels like we are different from everyone else, it can lead to a downward spiral of self rejection and low self-esteem. Since body image has to do with our outward appearance, it’s impossible to change overnight. And for many in this position, changing lifelong habits is also difficult. There’s a Chinese proverb that states “When the heart is at ease the body is healthy”. This can speak volumes to those struggling with body image today. In our society there are plenty of people who look down on overweight individuals. There are doctors who blame every health concern on weight. In order to become healthier, it is generally recommended to lose weight through physical activity and diet. While it‘s true that weight plays a role in our health, it doesn’t have to be the end all deciding factor of how we should feel.
The Long Run
Many people have voices in their head telling them they aren’t good enough. According to an article by Harvard Health, obesity does not affect everyone in the same way. BMI, for example, is not perfect. A bodybuilder could be determined overweight but is still physically healthy. Yes, your health depends on your weight. You will live longer and become a healthier individual when you sustain a healthy weight. But if you aren’t ready to mentally accept yourself for who you are nothing will change in the long run.
The Importance of Body Image
In an article written by Cynthia Sass, a registered dietician with a Master’s degree in nutrition science and public health, she explores the issue of body image in her clients. She goes on to say that clients who are comfortable with themselves have an easier time losing weight and are less likely to develop emotional or binge eating disorders. Sass gives several tips to improve body image in order to lose weight and keep it off. She includes; building positive self talk mechanisms of coping, focusing on how you feel rather than the number on the scale, being grateful for the things your body can do, and using activities that are fun and enjoyable to you – no matter what kind of calories they burn.
For many adolescents and young adults today, fitting in is everything. The mainstream media dictates to us what is fashionable, who is beautiful/attractive, and who is not. There are several issues with how mainstream media covers body image today. For the most part, a large percentage of Hollywood/media are airbrushed and made to look perfect. This tells young individuals that perfection is the only option. Health is a complex and individualistic ideal that each person can only have for themselves. Accepting who you are in your own skin, ditching media frenzied ideals, and working on being a healthier person who is not focused on image or numbers, could be the only secret to weight loss one might need.