“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.
Whether you’re filled with self-doubt and no self-confidence, or you know that you didn’t spend enough time writing and revising, anticipation hangs in that moment before receiving a grade. And once its there in your hand, completely unexpected and foreign in the worst way, there is no better way of describing the feeling other than like the end of the world, however clichéd it sounds.
Sitting in the toilets of the English Department at my university, I cried whilst reading over the comments of the paper I had worked so hard on. There wasn’t any possibility of me spending more time on that paper than I did. Is this really what defines my best? Does this mark define my abilities? How can I ever do better than this in the future? At the time, my answers to these questions fell to the negative end of the scale. And that is probably because my head was clouded with self-loathing and my throat clogged the sadness. But once I got over that initial stage I had to ask myself one final question: was I going to let myself be brought down by this unlucky experience, or was I going to pick myself up, take some action, and really show that marker what I could do? I hope everyone in a similar position would pick the second option. So here is a little action plan to get you started:
- I think its ok to cry at the beginning to let out all the frustration, sadness and disappointment you are feeling.
- Talk about it with someone who you know will be supportive and comforting – they will make you feel better by listening and give you some good advice and reassurance.
- Don’t waste your time crying about it, but resolve to take some action. You’ll kick yourself for wasting energy on it later; in a few years you’ll look back on it and think how trivial it actually is.
- Book a meeting with your teacher or tutor about what went wrong. Although it can be hard to hear, it will help you in the long run because they’ll give you pointers on how to improve. In the end you might even see that you’re doing even better than you would have done if you hadn’t had this bad grade.
- Don’t give up. Even if you’ve had a few bad grades, there is always time to change things around. You just have to believe in yourself and your capabilities and realise that things can be achieved if you put in the work.
- Don’t compare yourself to others, but remember that other people are or have been in a similar position, and you are not alone. Everyone sometimes has a bad mark or day and its best to acknowledge it, deal with it and move onto better things.
“We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.” – Unknown Author