The Struggles of Body Image.
Body image and self esteem has been a hot topic for well over a decade. In recent years we have seen an increase in the variety of people we see online, in magazines, and in various forms of media.
Body Image Starts Young
A study in the UK found that during their teen years (13-19) 35% said they worry about their body image. They also found that children as young as 3 years old notice a link between what their body may look like and the size they may wear.
Negative body image affects all varieties of people: young and old, all genders, all races, and all economic classes.
What are we doing about it?
In the age of the internet we are constantly flooded with “The Ideal”. But in recent years we are starting to see many brands stepping away and showing a larger range of people. Brands like Aerie and H&M show a wide range of sizes and abilities throughout their brands.
Aerie showcases people of all races, sizes and abilities. Some of their Role models, as they call some of their models, are known to have disabilities such as Molly Burke a Blind woman and Social media influencer from Canada who splits her time between Canada and LA.
We also see a shift beginning in the film industry as we find a wider range of people taking on leading roles. We are seeing more people of colour, and breaking away from the mould of what the leading lady looks like. Shondra Rhimes has played a large role in this with her work, bringing forward female leads that we had never seen before with characters like Meredith Grey and Christina Yang, two strong women who were not afraid to speak their mindsand stand up to the male characters in the show.
What can poor self esteem lead to?
All these positives are great, but we do still see the negatives that come from having low body image.
Low body image is linked to low self esteem. It is also well known that it can lead to disordered eating and body dysmorphia, as well as a tendency to self harm. These individuals are also more prone to mood disorders such as depression and BPD.
It can be difficult to watch our loved one (our children) struggling with low self image as we see them differently than they see themselves. This can leave parents with lots of questions.
How can I help them?
Where did I go wrong?
What did I do or say?
When did this start?
How do I fix this?
The short answer is there is no short answer. But there are things that a person can do to help either themselves or someone they love that is struggling with their body image.
Self-care is a huge aid during these times. Healthy and moderate amounts of exercise can help. It can allow someone to see how strong their body is and what they are capable of. However this can be tricky as exercise is linked so deeply into toxic diet culture. Exercise at times can do more harm than good even with the best of intentions.
Other forms of self care include, journaling, being creative (painting or writing, knitting), spending time with loved ones, taking long baths. For a list of suggestions you can check out our previous article.
Sometimes taking a break from social media can be a big help. It is so easy to become overwhelmed with what we are consuming and we lose track of what real life is like. We are constantly being shown a highlight reel of others’ lives. As well as overly edited, airbrushed and facetuned images from peers as well as corporations. It is easy to lose track of reality.
Surround yourself with a great support staff. Now this does mean actual staff, what this means is surrounding yourself with positive support. People that will lift you up when you are feeling down. People that want to see you succeed and people that love you for you. These are the people that will be able to bring you back to reality if you find yourself struggling.
Self image is a very personal struggle that many people go through. It is a persistent struggle for many young people today and unfortunately once the path begins it becomes very difficult to rewrite the narrative.
If you or someone close to you is struggling with self-image or self-esteem. Please reach out, our team is ready with knowledge and resources to help support you and your loved ones.
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