Graphic made by M. Sunku
“You can’t hate yourself happy. You can’t criticize yourself thin. You can’t shame yourself worthy. Real change begins with self-love and self-care.” — Jessica Ortner
The body positivity movement is about feeling confident in your own skin, and not letting anyone take that away from you. In this day and age, young people are taught that they are not pretty enough, skinny enough, handsome enough, curvy enough, muscular enough, and more. How does this constant negativity affect today’s teens?
To me, body positivity is being happy with yourself and taking care of your body. Exercise is important, but weight loss- when not instructed by a doctor- does not always have to be your main goal when working out. Go on a walk to refresh your head. Exercising also improves your self-esteem and floods your brain with positive thoughts.
Body positivity is extremely important to reduce risk of eating disorders, which have long term physical consequences, and improves mental health, which is already a struggle in today’s youth. A lower quality of life, psychological distress and the likelihood of unhealthy eating habits and eating disorders are correlated with greater body dissatisfaction. Body happiness and gratitude, on the other hand, have been linked to improved physical well-being and less restrictive dieting habits.
Social media does a splendid job of contributing to poor body image. You see people who are using photos and videos to display their best selves, and immediately come to the conclusion that you’re lesser than them. What many fail to realize is that this is the work of angles, lighting, and filters, and you too could come across the same way. Social media can affect our thinking patterns and cause our brains to enhance minor flaws that usually remain unseen to others, lowering a person’s confidence.
Remember that your words can be detrimental- so choose wisely. This applies to words targeted towards others, as well as towards yourself. Instead of being your own biggest critic, try being your own biggest supporter, and note the changes in your self esteem and overall happiness. When you talk to yourself about your looks, imagine what would happen if you said these things to your best friend. If they would be upset by your words, then you shouldn’t be saying them to yourself either.
To improve your self esteem and body image, you can do many things. You can start exercising to achieve higher endorphine, dopamine, and serotonin levels, surround yourself with positive people, stop comparing yourself to people you see on social media, or even keep a list of things you love about yourself. Remind yourself of all the wonderful places your legs have taken you, and the tasty delicacies that have settled in your stomach.
Please remember to take care of yourself, and that your health comes before other people’s thoughts about you. The only opinion that matters is your own. And if you don’t have something nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.