Body Image: Confident and Healthy Is Beautiful
As people grow up, they hear they should take pride in their bodies. Beginning in grade school, bodies change during puberty and can bring about distorted images. Bigger boobs, taller statures, and strange weight fluctuations all draw attention in both negative and positive ways.
Even into adulthood, we’re faced with the media’s depiction of the ideal body types, such as the newly-released Victoria’s Secret swimsuit catalogue or any edition of Men’s Health. Obviously, when looking through this lens, we immediately become envious, and probably irritated that this is the body society covets. Instantaneously, we’ll look for the closest box of Girl Scout cookies and feast upon our disappointment in a sugar-fueled frenzy.
Then, when an ad such as Aerie’s highly-praised lingerie advertisements of “realistic bodies” is released, we are then supposed to gain a new wave of body confidence. Take a moment and think about the principle behind these ads and why people become so excited about an ad that portrays “regular-sized” models.
They’re telling us that it’s okay being comfortable in our own skin which is completely fine. It’s an excellent message.
What isn’t fine is developing a skewed perspective on what a healthy body is and isn’t. Now this may sound harsh, but it’s time to stop taking pride in something that is incredibly unhealthy. Being overweight is not okay, and will never be okay. With most of our country’s population growing (literally) every year, this isn’t the time to start accepting something that could potentially kill us.
Obviously, we aren’t all built like models. It’s a body type that many of us just don’t have. We don’t all have long legs, ridiculous metabolisms, or small frames. For the men, every guy doesn’t put on muscle mass as easily and may not have the same broad frame that we see in male modeling. Additionally, we all know, most of the retouched and photo shopped pictures make them look unrealistically perfect.
What we DO have in common with them is the ability to choose how we use what we’re born with. Yeah, you don’t have to be skinny or perfectly sculpted, but does that mean it’s okay to gain an unhealthy amount of weight and not take care of yourself? No!
It’s our job to take care of our bodies to support a healthy life. You need exercise; you need a healthy diet; and you need a healthy body image. This doesn’t mean you accept something that you feel like you’re stuck with. It’s a mindset that will allow you to reach your ideal version of YOU.
It truly irks me to watch someone take pride in their “curves” when in actuality, it’s just fat. It’s extra weight that puts a strain on your joints, your heart, and sometimes your happiness. Unless you have a medical condition that doesn’t allow you to lose the extra weight, don’t be content with it. You are doing your body and your mind a disservice by telling yourself that it’s okay to be overweight.
Just take a look at shows such as The Biggest Loser, I Used to Be Fat, and Extreme Makeover. You watch transformations in each episode that deliver such strong feelings of empowerment to many viewers. Even after (if) they reach their goal, they aren’t transformed into a new Calvin Klein or Victoria’s Secret underwear model; they’re just healthy.
Personally, being the social media fiend that I am, I follow many fitness and health-related Instagram accounts. It’s truly inspiring to see transformation pictures, unhealthy recipes made healthy, and every-day people making new strides in their journey to better health.
The beautiful thing that I’ve discovered in this is that it documents the progress of people just like you and me: people that have taken the initiative to better themselves just like any other person out there, famous or not.
The Hard Truth
It’s time for us to stop being so sensitive about how our bodies look and start focusing on the big picture: the health of our bodies. Of course it’s important to have confidence in our figures and accept that we don’t all look like models, but it’s also important to find the line between healthy body image and settling for something harmful to ourselves.
So yes, we shouldn’t all buy the same “cheeky” bathing suit bottoms or rock a Speedo on the beach (unless you’re daring and carefree, in which case I give you props). We all come in different shapes and sizes, but remember that shape and size can also be a result of our own lifestyle choices. Work with what you’ve got, treat it as well as you can, and flaunt it.