I’d like to start this post by asking how you are, like seriously, how are you? Not just the passing by ‘yalright?’ that nobody really wants an answer from. But a genuine, how are you?
It’s good to check in with your own mental health and to speak to people around you about it. Yesterday marked the start of Mental Health Awareness Week and this year’s focus is on body image.
The expectation these days to look a certain way is ridiculous. Pretty much everywhere you turn there’s an unrealistic body and beauty image being shoved down your throat. I remember when I was at school each year a new year 7 class would start and each year they progressively paid more attention to how they looked, the hairstyles became more elaborate, the fake tan darker, the make up thicker and the eye brows… well I don’t really need to mention what happened to the eye brows. I really REALLY do not envy teenagers these days. With social media and air brushing it’s no surprise the figures of anxiety, depression, eating disorders and self-harm are on the rise. The pressure to look a certain way is very damaging, especially to a young person who’s already got harrowing hormones running round their body making them doubt their every decision.
Society is a strangeun. We celebrate when people loose weight more than when they receive a promotion at work. We pay people compliments on their appearance rather than their kindness. We write people off becoming our friends or tinder dates based on a ‘bad’ profile picture instead of the fact they openly put their interests as ‘misogynist’ or ‘animal poacher’.
I’m not saying, don’t take care of yourself. Do exercise, eat a balanced diet and take pride in how you look, because those are things you should most certainly be doing to help your mental wellbeing. We could all just try a bit harder to not compare ourselves with others or make the way someone looks a main focus of who they are.
Naturally over the years I’ve had my own qualms about my body. Too big, too little, too wobbly, too pale, stretch marks, spots, hair. All sorts! But there have been a few things that have taught me to become at peace with my body and I’d like to share those things in this post in the hope that it may help someone else.
Unfollow harmful accounts. That girl who’s manipulated her body through an app to look like a Kardashian, get rid. Kardashians full stop, get rid. Instead follow the amazing @i_weigh which is a social media movement started by Jameela Jamil to celebrate people for what they are beyond the flesh on their bones. Also follow @gracewoodward who worked in the fashion industry for many years and is now sharing the truth and damage it’s practices are doing to people’s body image.
Rupi Kaur poetry.
Delve into a Bryony Gordon book, my favourite is Mad Girl (also follow her on instagram).
Avoid brands whose marketing campaigns show no diversity in the models that they use. I’ve recently bought some new underwear from Lonely and one of the things that attracted me to them was the models that they used. Older women, curvier women, smaller women, women of colour. It shows you what a real person looks like in the bra rather than a pristine air-brushed model, because when you buy from the brand who use the pristine air-brushed model it’s pretty much false advertising and you’ll 9 times out of 10 be disappointed when it comes to trying on the garment.
Subscribe to two of my favourite podcasts The Guilty Feminist and Get It Off Your Breasts. Both podcasts have genuinely taught me what to look out for in the wicked world of bad body image and have exposed me to resources that promote positive body image. All through the medium of funny, intellectual people having a chat which leads me onto my last point…
Talk about it!