Mental Health Awareness Week – Body Image

Over here in the UK we are currently amidst Mental Health Awareness Week.

Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health Awareness Week takes place from 13-19 May 2019. The theme this year is Body Image – how we think and feel about our bodies. 
Body image issues can affect all of us at any age. During the week we are publishing new research and campaigning for change.
#BeBodyKind

Mental Health Foundation

Finding your feet in your own skin.

I’m sure we’ve all seen an image similar to that of above. These illustrations, quotes, videos and images are often seen plastered everywhere in hopes that this is enough encouragement for women and younger girls alike to feel comfortable in their own body shape and skin. If only it was this easy, eh?

Whilst these images are thoughtful and encouraging, they fall flat amongst the world we currently find ourselves in. A world where photoshopping still remains rife, where beautiful women are airbrushed to hide the details which should in fact make them proud of their own bodies. It’s a world where make up allows us to totally transform our identities, where celebrities are slaughtered for gaining a mere ten pounds in weight and a world where 53% of us think that we need to alter our online life to suit the people we communicate with.

Despite my words, I am not one of these loud and proud body confident women. Oh how I wish I was! I wish I had the confidence to throw caution to the wind and wear a skirt that shows a roll or two, or a bikini revealing the overweight stretch-mark tarred tummy beneath it – but I don’t. I’m realistic. I know my body type isn’t something a young girl wishes for as she ages, it isn’t one men will drool over as I walk the shoreline on my next holiday but soon I hope that I’ll happy with saying that. My body isn’t for anyone else. It’s for me.

How do we see change?

I don’t claim to have all these answers. I’m not sure. The recent changes in shopping online, whereby real models are used with what we hope is no airbrushing, is promising. Take this article for example.

People are thanking ASOS for showing a model’s stomach rolls

Metro UK

Yes, it’s great. It’s lovely seeing the model in her own actual skin. But should I be thanking the company for it? Not really. Everywhere I look I should see real women. I expect them to have rolls, scars, freckles, love handles and so forth. I think the ‘thanking’ of this company, despite my adoration of them for actually doing it, is still sending the wrong message. This should be the norm. This should be what I see every time I shop online.

Media, the glossy mags and crumpled papers, have a lot to answer for. Take a look at some of the covers below, let’s consider what some of my initial thoughts would have been.

“10lbs in 10 days!”

Brilliant, I weigh more than Jessica Simpson did at the beginning – which means I probably need to go on that diet for 50 days.

“Extreme plan to be sexy again”

Well I thought I was sexy when I ordered new lingerie the other week – clearly I need to be doing more.

Best and WORST beach bodies.

Well it’s saying something when the worst beach bodies are what I dream of getting to.

There’s so much work that needs to be done on the media’s wording and presenting of issues. Can you imagine being one of those celebrities found in the worst beach bodies section? I don’t think I’d ever show anyone my body again, and all because I wanted to spend time at the sea in the sun. It’s completely uncalled for.

Choosing your influencers

This is where I think it’s important to begin to take a look at who your influencers are. I don’t mean the people you surround yourself with, I’ll get to this in a moment, but those people you follow online, the celebrities you catch glimpses and long to be like. It takes a lot of effort to look at your influencers and it’s vital that you take something as simple as following them on instagram seriously. Are they going to just post crop top pics with a vegan shake? Brilliant – if that what your lifestyle is or needs! For me – it isn’t! I decided I needed people who were confident in their body, be they a size 0 or 24, and who expressed their love of body confidence. Some major names who are pushing for body confidence amongst all include BodyPosiPanda, NadiaAboulhosn, TessHoliday and a brand I love following is SwimsuitsForAll. These are just some of the huge influencers out there who are rooting for us. A lady I most definitely have to mention here to is Susie Hasler. A personal stylist who’s realistic in her approach. She’s all about facing the fear and dressing for you. Dressing for your body and it’s glorious shape. If you’d like to know more about this, you should totally check out my recent post.

Your inner circle

It’s also the people you surround yourself with. I have never felt more confident in my body than I have with my boyfriend in the past two and half years I’ve been with him. Despite the many influencers who claim that your worth shouldn’t be based on what others (including partners) think of you, I strongly believe that when you find that person – the other half – there is nothing more important than having them love your body. It wasn’t until I realised that someone else could love it, that I even began thinking about liking it myself. Soon you realise, that if your inner circle love you as you are – why can’t you?

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