Too much emphasis on body image

According to TODAY style, the longer and more often you compliment yourself in the mirror, the more you will learn to love your reflection. Photo by Madeline Ruth.
According to TODAY style, the longer and more often you compliment yourself in the mirror, the more you will learn to love your reflection. Photo by Madeline Ruth.

With continuous media coverage on unrealistic body ideals, too many men and women fight to achieve unrealistic aspirations with their bodies. This can lead to eating disorders and disrupt many things in a person’s life. Body love is essential all over the world and needs to be addressed.

Body image is how you see yourself when you look in the mirror or when you picture yourself in your mind, according to the National Eating Disorders Association.

Recently, the media has obsessed in over 69,000 news articles about Renée Zellweger and her appearance at the Elle Women in Hollywood Awards on October 21, according to a video Russell Brand released on The Trews. He makes a comeback against the media and addresses the debate, ending it humorously.

“It’s not like her head’s been replaced by a marshmallow or a roller skate… it’s Renée Zellweger plus time,” said Brand in his video. He added, “What if Renée Zellweger has had some plastic surgery, what’s Renée Zellweger having this surgery for, it’s like she’s under some intense pressure regarding her physical appearance or something!”

Jes Baker, 28, from Tucson, is an international body advocate and mental health professional. She has gone on a journey that has led her to the creation of a recognized blog titled, The Militant Baker: A blog about what everyone is thinking, but no one will say. In her blog, she promotes that it is okay to be happy at all sizes, shapes, and weights, and that all bodies are perfect. Her blog has been featured around the country and she hosts the annual Body Love Conference. The second conference will be held June 5-6, 2015 at the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort and Spa in Tucson, Ariz.

According to her blog Baker said, “We will never be able to embrace our bodies as a diverse society as long as negative body messages exist.” She also added that “Individuals get to choose whether they will love their body or not regardless of what you or society/the media believes.” The Body Love Conference encourages participants to start questioning social norms, build a supportive community, counteract self-hate, and try forms of expression that may not have seemed achievable before. The conference believes every woman is beautiful and our culture should affirm this. They encourage you to come understand why you loathe your body, how to overcome it, and to participate in activities and listen to stories that will help to shed light on the subject.

A recent study, Ideal to Real Body Image by TODAY health, found that 60 percent of adult women have negative thoughts about themselves weekly. That’s compared to 36 percent of men. Also, 78 percent of teen girls are troubled with this kind of self-criticism.

The survey also said that most Americans are worried about their weight and stomachs are the biggest source of anxiety for them. An alarming 82 percent of adult women and teen girls feel they need to lose weight.

Body smart, an initiative at the University of Arizona (UA), breaks down and promotes body image and the societal pressures to look a certain way through discussions and workshops, and through cognitive dissonance. They ask individuals why they want to be a certain way or do certain things, is it because they truly want to be healthy or is it because they do it to satisfy other people?

Student coordinator for Body Smart, Lauren Ramsey said that those who have a negative perception of their bodies will experience more stress, feel more awkward in situations, possibly miss out on important opportunities in life such as asking for raises or promotions, and will discriminate themselves from others. It’s important to take a step back sometimes for your well-being, and have a good attitude through the ups and downs in life. She said, “Never confuse a single defeat with an overall defeat.”

Developmental psychologist Shannon Snapp at UA, said body image is highly related to self-esteem and self worth, and if we do not feel comfortable in our bodies then we will struggle in other aspects of our lives. She added for every one negative thought, counter it with a positive thought to re-train your brain to think positive thoughts. Even if you don’t believe it, words and behaviors go a long way with actions.

“This is a container that we have to walk in each day and it’s how we present ourselves in the world, so if that feels off to us or we have a negative feeling or connection to our own body then it probably is going to be connected to all sorts of ways we feel about ourselves in general, and it can go against those extremes,” said Snapp.

Baker added the question on her blog, aren’t all of societies messages that cause you to hate your body horrifying, disastrous, and cataclysmic? They all take a negative toll on our psyche, body, and life. But she hopes for each and every single person that we can learn why we’ve learned to hate ourselves, how to embrace the body we have, and how to see the beauty in others.

Madeline Ruth is a reporter at Arizona Sonora News, a service from the University of Arizona. Reach her at mruth1@email.arizona.edu

 

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