Soundcity OAP Awazi shares her experiences on body image and self-esteem
Growing up my parents were very conscious about the kind of things we were exposed to, I really hated how extra my mum was about what we watched, read, who I was allowed to spend time with and how much time was I allowed with those people.
In hindsight I am grateful to my mum for being that protective of me and shutting down unkind comments about her children as soon as she caught them regardless of if it made her look bad in our school, in the neighborhood or even in the church and for always saying kind beautiful things to us because there I was a happy cute dark skinned chubby kid with natural hair just living her best life.
It was not until I became a teenager that I became super self-conscious about my appearance and I started getting affected when people called me “blacky” and fatty bum bum I started to see myself differently from how I saw myself when I was younger, I started to think that I was the ugly one among my peers especially when they would get all the compliments about their appearance that I didn’t get.
I thought that because I was usually the darkest and sometimes the biggest of the bunch, the other girls were more beautiful and that they were generally better than me.
I used their appearance as an index of measurement for everything, I’d rather stay back and not participate in anything sometimes. In my mind, I put them before me for every single activity; debates, singing competitions, dancing competitions, sports e.t.c regardless of the fact that maybe I was more qualified than they were in some of these areas and that just made me grow less and less confident in myself by the day. This brings us to the relationship between body image and self-worth.
So many researchers have linked body image to self-worth in a couple of ways especially highlighting that poor body image can very easily allow a person develop poor self-worth and vice versa. When people have poor body image, they are less likely to focus on their strengths in other areas. When a person has poor self-worth, they can be highly critical of themselves and as a result, start to form poor body image. Poor self-worth leads to lack of self-confidence that makes it harder for people to carry out normal life activities and can be a major hindrance to general success so you see it’s not so much of a reach after all.
In addition, poor body image and self-worth makes people become so obsessed with an idealized image of the perfect appearance and in order to achieve it they do extreme things; they might get surgery, bleach their skin, abuse laxatives, develop eating disorders or even physical and mental health problems like depression and anxiety among others.
A very recent example would be K. Michelle the singer, she thought “I’ve always been curvy, it wasn’t enough, I thought, I want to take it to the extreme. I’m having trouble with men right now, maybe if I had a huge butt I’ll get even bigger love.” She blamed her social problem on her appearance and she tried to fix it by going by the now idealized beauty standard of having a huge butt. Sadly that did not end well for her as she started experiencing so much pain she had to take her butt implants out. There are so many other examples of this in the media and even in our everyday life, poor body image and/or self-worth is truly eating deeply into many lives and maybe has even started eating into yours.
I have been at that point in my life and honestly, It took me a lot of time and conscious decisions to build a healthy body image (I am still even a work in progress) and I try hard to not be a part of the reason someone feels terrible about themselves and their bodies.
I wish that we will all see that we are truly more amazing than just our appearance and we do not have to conform to the public perception of beauty. It’s taken me a while to come to this realisation and my wish for all of us to truly love and embrace ourselves and also promote a culture of body confidence.