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Why we need to take body image more seriously

By Awazi Angbalaga
09 June 2018   |   3:53 am
First of all what does body image even have to do with anybody’s self-worth and how productive they are in life or even their mental health? Lol it might all seem like such a reach but it really is not that deep. Body image simply is the way a person sees their body in their…

Photo credit: Sagittarian Mind Consulting

First of all what does body image even have to do with anybody’s self-worth and how productive they are in life or even their mental health?

Lol it might all seem like such a reach but it really is not that deep.

Body image simply is the way a person sees their body in their mind and how they feel about this image that they have of themselves.

Our body image can be influenced by a bunch of factors including personal and external factors (media, upbringing, life situations, comments from other people and so on) by now we know that there is positive and negative sides to body image just like almost everything in life.

A person can see their body as ugly, completely covered in flaws, socially unacceptable, way below the idealized image of the perfect body they have in their minds and may sometimes even see their bodies in a way that is completely different from how it truly appears, that is, a distorted and negative body image.

Or a person may think that their body is so perfect; like it’s the next best thing after Jollof rice and hold that image as a standard of beauty for everybody else so they consider people who don’t look similar to them as ugly and unacceptable. This also is a negative body image.

However, when a person sees their body and accepts it for the way it is, recognizes that it may be different from other bodies but it still is unique and beautiful even though not by popular standards, so they love their body, care for it and are comfortable and confident in their skin, then that is positive and healthy body image.

While body image is focused on one’s body, self-worth is about a person in entirety, how much value we place on ourselves, what we think about ourselves and who we are generally. Some people think lowly about themselves while others think highly of themselves for various reasons.

Opinions are not formed out of a vacuum, so when we have certain opinions about our bodies, how perfect they are or not, how beautiful or ugly we are these opinions are influenced by information we have come across at some point in our being.

Research attributes a major chunk of body image forming to the media and the kind of images and information they push out. We see and hear things in the media, we learn media idealized beauty standards and we also learn from the media what is considered ugly or weird and we subconsciously conform to these standards and start to hold ourselves to them sometimes even hating certain things about ourselves and not accepting our own uniqueness and beauty until we modify our hair, our skin color, our body shape, our eye color one way or the other and sometimes with adverse effects on our health.

Popular case of reference will be Kanye west who- about two weeks ago- boldly stated to a media house TMZ “I had plastic surgery because I was tryna look good for y’all.

I got liposuction because I didn’t want y’all to call me fat like y’all called Rob at the wedding and made him fly home before me and Kim got married.”

Kanye killed two birds with one stone talking about himself and Rob Kardashian and the extreme body modification and the mental stress they they had go through because of the media. We might not even notice it when it’s happening, but we imbibe these thoughts from the moment we are exposed to media which is usually at a very tender age

Is it only the media that does this? No; Are you a part of the problem? Probably. You know that thing they say about words being such a powerful weapon?

Well they are completely right when it comes to forming body image.

In addition to information collected from the media, comments from people around contribute to the image a person can form in their minds about themselves.

So family and friends even random strangers on the street or on the internet making comments about a person’s appearance goes a much longer way than they think. Body shaming is a major problem.

I remember that sometime in 2017, Karen Igho (big brother Africa winner 2011) was getting body shamed on social media because she looked darker, people were asking ”why she BLACK” and if her “cream don finish” as if being dark skinned is such a horrible thing.

Although Karen admitted to bleaching her skin in the past and now refusing to put any more chemicals on it, she went ahead to say that if because of that she doesn’t look “pretty” people can love her less or love her more.

The fact that she assumed people would love her less for the appearance of her skin alone says a whole lot.

Now Kanye and Karen are not alone in this struggle to keep up appearances, while this a bigger concern for public figures and celebrities, everyone -celebrity or not- can relate to the pressures of trying to look “pretty” and gain acceptance.

This is not to say there is anything wrong with looking good, however when we begin to lose unique qualities that we have and we put our physical and mental health in jeopardy just so we can “fit in” and get gratification from others, there is a big problem.

Until we start to accept and appreciate ourselves for the unique and beautiful beings that we are and not hold ourselves by the standards perpetuated by the media and other people, we will continue to follow trends rather than embrace ourselves and truly live our best lives.

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