Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about both physical and mental health and taking good care of yourself. One thing that bothers me tremendously is the beauty industry, for they want you to believe you’re ugly, so you’ll buy their products.
This quote I heard in a video summing up advices on how to live a happy life:
‘Don’t read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.’
That one really struck me. It’s so simple, yet it can be hard to see, for avoiding beauty magazines alone is not enough. The beauty industry’s messages are everywhere, they’ve become part of our cultures. Plus, this industry does its utter best to trick you into thinking they’re doing you a favour.
Recently, in the UK there has been commotion because of Protein World’s advertisement for it’s weight loss collection. The advertisement shows a female model in bathing clothing with the text ‘Are you beach body ready?’. A petition on Change.org has been set up aiming to get Protein World to remove the posters. The founder of the petition writes: ‘Protein World is directly targeting individuals, aiming to make them feel physically inferior to the unrealistic body image of the bronzed model, in order to sell their product. (…) Perhaps not everyone’s priority is having a ‘beach body’ (by the way, what is that?), and making somebody feel guilty for not prioritising it by questioning their personal choices is a step too far.’ Exactly. Go here for more about this, or here to read that the advertisement has been banned from reappearing in its current form. I started writing this post before I heard of this campaign, but it’s such a good example for what is happening.
Also, I like this quote of the two bloggers Fiona Longmuir and Tara Costello who posed in their bikinis in front of the poster:
‘How to get a beach body: take your body to the beach.’
Now I see insecurities about physical appearance aren’t just caused by these wrong advertisements. These insecurities have probably always been there and will always be, but we can make it better by being more compassionate towards our own bodies and others’. We can try to be more compassionate and loving in general. Body image and self-love go hand in hand.
I believe it is good to get comfortable with being in your natural state, meaning naked or else in simple clothing. The first time I went to a naked sauna I found the atmosphere really soothing. It really felt as if we, the visitors, were all true and equal. Besides, nobody is really looking at you, everybody is there for themselves. So you may try visiting such a place if you haven’t already, or see if you can be comfortable being naked with just yourself. For me wearing simple or thin clothing can have a similar effect, since it can make me feel more vulnerable, thereby closer to myself, others and nature. You can see for yourself if you can experience something similar.
Another thing we can do is focus on what our bodies can do instead of on how they look. Another quote, with no source:
‘My body’s an instrument, not an ornament.’
That is just so true. I think doing sports or exercising can be good to internalize this message. Both because then you learn ‘the facts’ about how cool your body is, but slso because you will feel it. I have never really done sports and now I recently started running and doing some yoga and it does make me feel better about my body. I also went to a physiotherapist because of repetitive strain injury (RSI) and doing the exercises she gave me already made me appreciate my body a bit more.
Other than that, it is always good to nourish yourself! Both physically with nutritious food and mentally with nutritious thoughts. Naturally.
At last, there’s one website I keep writing about and recommending to others: My Body Gallery. It holds a gallery full of pictures of women’s bodies, in all shapes and sizes. You can just browse through it, ask for a random image or select on different variables like height and weight. The idea is that through browsing the website women get more used to see real women again, instead of only selected and even altered images. This will lead to more appreciation of different body types. All images of women have been send in my the women themselves. My picture is there as well. Next to the gallery, there are also personal stories in which women write about their relationship with their bodies, food and exercising. I like to read the stories, for it makes me feel connected. So many of us are struggling with body image issues. It comes in different forms, but our fundamental insecurities are so similar. I hope we can make it better and I am sure this website and the acceptance it brings can help. My Body Gallery also has a version for men and a really nice Facebook page on which they keep you updated about news and initiatives concerning body image.
Now I’d like to hear from you! What do you think? Do you have things to add, like opinions, initiatives or suggestions?