A survey of people across 22 countries has revealed 1 in 5 Canadian women are unhappy with how they look. It’s a statistic that may be shocking to some, but for others, it is confirmation of a sad, unsurprising truth. Women often compare themselves to their peers and other females represented in the media, which is hardly known for portraying unretouched, authentic versions of real life. So what’s the answer to this body image crisis? How do we encourage people to value themselves individually, irrespective of what society dictates at the time? It seems there are 2 choices: either accept the way you look, or change the way you look, through exercise, diet or cosmetic procedures.
Defining Body Image
Body image refers to how a person feels about their appearance when they look in the mirror. It’s more than just an objective observation of one’s physiology. It’s the result of how an individual perceives themselves as a whole, which is often influenced by the media they consume, the opinions of other people, and personal expectations. Negative stereotypes about gender, race, or sexual orientation can be difficult to dismiss and also contribute to how we shape our self- image.
Nurturing a Positive Self-Perception
Cultivating a healthy body image starts with relating to ourselves. Maintaining positive self-esteem, having an optimistic outlook and ensuring emotional stability are all critical to achieving that. These qualities lay the foundation upon which an individual can build an affirmative self-perception. It’s not about being perfect, but about accepting what is, abandoning harsh judgments, and valuing yourself and your body.
Accepting the Reality
Maybe the solution is a simple one. If a person has good self-esteem and robust mental health, they’ll probably have a better body image. Sounds straightforward enough. But getting to that place where we all should be is no easy task. How lovely it would be if there was a quick-fix, a daily multi-vitamin that included a generous dose of self-worth. There is no such remedy, of course, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t aspire to being the best version we can be. That is, accepting our flaws and our virtues for what they are; letting ourselves be in the moment without feeling obliged to react a certain way. Respect yourself and others, be down-to-earth, and take pragmatic steps to address issues or manage problems. Make a decision, commit to it, and own it. Whatever you choose, accept that you have done it for a valid reason. If getting a new haircut, losing a couple of pounds, or banishing some of those wrinkles makes you feel better about yourself, you’re more likely to project a confident and sunny disposition.
The power to mold your own self-image is entirely yours. If you can learn to accept what and who you are, that’s a huge achievement. Alternatively, if you’d rather change your appearance to fit the image you’ve created of yourself, that’s a rational option, too. But the advice is clear – do what makes you feel good about yourself, believe compliments that you receive, respect yourself and others, and surround yourself with positive people.
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