“I believe in waking up every day and taking a good step towards health and honoring your body” – Troian Bellisario
Body image is one of the first factors that determines somebody’s ‘attractiveness’. In Victorian England where a woman’s role was predominantly characterised by motherhood, women worse specific styles of corsets and dresses to accentuate the parts of their body that made them look suitable for future reproduction, such as their hips and waist. That way they could attract a husband by advertising their suitability for wifehood and motherhood. Nowadays, we still dress and make our bodies look a certain way (which is usually defined by others) in order to impress, to look cool, to be liked, whether it be directed towards a love interest or other peers. It seems what makes us feel happy or good about ourselves in our own bodies is largely reliant on what others think and whether they accept us. It seems as if we can only accept ourselves if others accept us.
I think what we have fallen short on is our own ability to define what makes us happy regarding our bodies. It is even harder to do this with the media’s increasing manipulation of what is considered ‘attractive’ and the pressure to conform to society’s norms that constantly intrude into our lives. When gossip magazines criticise the bodies of celebrities to the extreme, it is no wonder that we criticise and judge the bodies of people in our every day lives, and even more so, our own bodies. Body bashing becomes normality, and we get caught in a cycle of negativity that breeds insecurity. It is normal to be unhappy with one’s body. What’s more, many people are unaware that images of celebrities and people we look up to in magazines and the Internet are photoshopped and airbrushed; we take drastic measures to warp our bodies into a frankly unattainable ideal.
It’s hard to offer any solution to these problems; we can’t get rid of society or the media and they can be hard to change. But we can talk about and look at body image and its relation to attractiveness in a different light. We all have insecurities. Some of them are exaggerated in our own minds. We all have parts of our body that we do not like, and we all envy parts of other people’s bodies – but what that means is that there are parts of our bodies that other people like and envy too. Everyone’s body is different and requires different attention and care; not everyone can or should have one type of body image, it might not be right for them. We shouldn’t have to have plastic surgery or develop a disorder to something that shouldn’t be that important in the first place. Think of all the beautiful things your body does for you – is it right to abuse it, by under or over-eating? What if we all looked the same? Wouldn’t it be awful? And who is to say that everyone has the same taste in ‘attractiveness’? One of my male friends only finds a girl attractive once he has fallen for their personality. People like that do exist.
What I believe to be one of the first most attractive and beautiful qualities in a person is Confidence. Confidence is something everybody can have, including confidence in one’s own body. It would be stupid to deny that body image has nothing to do with the mind: you are in complete control. Just like you’ve been telling yourself what is ‘wrong’ with your body, you can remind yourself of what is good about your body. Confidence is something to develop and master. Most importantly, being confident or comfortable in your own skin does not mean having no insecurities, it means accepting those parts of your body as part of what makes you beautiful. One day you might grow out of those insecurities. You should celebrate and honour your body, which includes eating healthily and exercising regularly without extremity.
The last thing I want to reiterate about body image is that your body is yours and nobody else’s. And you must consider how much body image should really matter. At the end of the day, what counts is the type of person you are on the inside, and that will radiate onto the outside. The more we promote this, the closer we come to making that the new norm.