Body Image in America
Throughout generations in America, the ideal body type has changed, transformed, and evolved tremendously into what has become simply unrealistic.
Starting back from the early 1900s, eating disorders began to form when models with extremely slender physiques were appearing in magazines. Each decade leading up to now has had a new ideal body type appearing in the media a lot. Supermodels are now young boys’ and girls’ idols which ultimately has caused unhealthy mindsets to form in hopes of achieving idolized body types.
Because of the inability to achieve the glorified body type, eating disorders are increasing, mental health is worsening, and experiences are lessening because of the negative decrease in confidence and self-esteem.
Due to the constant thought of appearance, people don’t feel comfortable going out because of eternal feelings of judgment. The ongoing thought of food and calories affecting one’s body image has then led to unhealthy relationships with food.
Celebrities and health figures worsen the situation by advocating for things such as healthy gummies, specific workout exercises, unreal expectations of weight loss, etc. These health items and “advice” are used for business and money, not the well-being of people. The public is being misled and set up for failure in achieving impossible physiques.
To conquer the increase in those struggling with body image issues and bad mental health because of it, here are realistic tips on developing a better mindset regarding health and fitness:
Take a break from social media
Social media is the source of body image comparison. Many pictures posted on social media are posed, photoshopped, and angled in a way to create illusions of one’s body. What we see on social media is a highlight of someone’s life and body. It is unrealistic but many don’t understand the filters from social media. Therefore, taking a break from social platforms is a starting point in developing a mindset where comparison of other’s bodies is now focused on one’s own mind and body goals. Bring attention to your life, not others.
Focus on your health journey
Apart from removing social media from one’s focus, this will now allow people to focus more on their own health journey. Less time on social media means more time for focusing on one’s mental health. This can include finding little chunks of time in the day to work out, cook a healthy meal, put a face mask on, practice daily affirmations, and more. People need to start taking more time from their day and apply it to themselves. Practicing self-care is a necessity to building a healthier mindset to ultimately overcome body image issues as one falls back in alignment with loving themselves.
Look in the mirror and call yourself “Beautiful,” “Worthy,” and even “Great.” Practicing daily affirmations is key in developing a mindset focused on self-care. What you say and put out into the universe is what you will start to believe and receive, respectively. Despite wherever you are in your healthy journey, your body goals, or your life goals, make sure to affirm yourself daily of all the things you are and will become. Everyone is worthy of greatness, beauty, and success. It is those who believe in themselves to which good things will come to. Therefore, start loving yourself by saying good things. If you value yourself, you won’t need to compare to others around you because you are already content.
Use the Best Friend Method
This method is one of my favorite concepts to think about. The Best Friend Method works by not saying things to yourself that you wouldn’t say to your best friend. You wouldn’t call your best friend ugly, fat, or pick out parts of his/her body that you didn’t like. If you do, then that’s another conversation for later. The point is, many insecurities people have are almost always noticed by themselves. Start using the Best Friend Method and hyping yourself up. That’s what your best friend would do to you anyway, right?
Stop caring what people think
This tip is probably one of the hardest for people to accomplish. Society, especially nowadays, struggles with the feeling of validation. People seek validation from others to make themselves feel more content and wanted. However, to create a greater mindset that focuses on one’s health, people need to be independent and not rely on others for anything. This includes not caring what others have to say and living free of judgment by only thinking about your own opinion. If you practice all of the tips above, this concept will come easier to incorporate into your improved mindset.
Hopefully, after analyzing each tip, you can realize that you are important in this world despite your body image. Your body should not define who you are. Next time you start to think about yourself negatively, use these tips and incorporate them into your daily life. You will be on the right track to a healthier mindset and achieve your health goals soon.
To introduce myself, I am Makaila Williams, a first-year Psychobiology major at UCLA. I am from San Diego, California, and am a huge advocate for mental health. My goal is to educate others about mental health and to focus on bettering their mental state. I believe mental health is not talked about enough and there needs a better focus in society to inform people of how to better their mental balance. For one to be healthy, their entire mind, soul, and body should be aligned and cared for properly.