Bianca Levin

How can we begin to tackle a problem like body image?

Imagine for a second, a world where magazines don’t advertise an ideal figure, a world where weight loss programs don’t exist, a world where a minority body type isn’t regarded as the “perfect” and “ultimate” physique, a world where discourse surrounding women’s bodies doesn’t exist. Perhaps if a world like this existed, society wouldn’t have such a warped perception of how a female body is “supposed” to look.

In the 21st century the issue of negative self and body image is actively undermining the work that feminist movements have achieved in terms of women’s empowerment, leadership and a woman’s status within society. The issue of how women and girls perceive themselves is something we as a society need to conquer.

Instagram, Snapchat, tabloids and the media as a whole perpetuate the “perfect” body stereotype. Through these mediums, the supermodels and celebrities we look up to are paid to maintain and advertise their figures, and this culture influences girls, boys, men and women to relentlessly seek out methods in order to achieve often impossible body goals. But the “ideal body” is often unattainable, and people go to great lengths – often unhealthily -in their pursuit to achieve it, such as skinny tea detoxes and addictions to exercise.

These stereotypes have formed what we as a society perceive to be beautiful, which is why everyone strives to look a certain way. But why in a globalised and multicultural world, where we should celebrate diversity and uniqueness, do we strive to fit one model? The irony is uncanny and irrational and it typifies how deeply imbedded these slim body norms are within the global psyche.

Confidence and being comfortable in your own skin will overshadow and break down any insecurities you may have about your body. Don’t get me wrong, breaking down these ingrained ideals is no easy task. It is a process that takes time, a lifetime of “fat-phobia” can be deeply embedded. You might wake up one morning feeling good in your skin and wake up the next day crying that you don’t have a thigh gap or six pack. However, each morning that you wake up with a body positive mindset is another day that you don’t view yourself negatively and that in itself is something to be proud of.

The road to self-love and body positivity is hard, but one day all bodies will be promoted on the cover of magazines and curvy models will be asked to model for high-end fashion brands. It sounds cliché, but every one of us should try to engage in a discourse of body positivity and self-love to ensure that issue of not having the “perfect” body is no longer a topic of conversation.

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