Dealing with the media and body image. 

There are some days that I call my ‘down days’. A rather polite way of putting it sometimes.. But it’s something that all of us are entitled to have. And today, I’m feeling particularly down about the way I look – more specifically, the weight that I have gained and currently struggling to lose. What I would normally do is sit down and drown my sorrows with a big bar of chocolate whilst scrolling through my Instagram of all the celebrities with bodies to die for. Incredibly helpful. This time – however – I’m sitting in front of my laptop this evening with a glass of wine, thinking about what body image actually means and trying to understand it’s relationship to beauty. I now realize that there is so much that I want to write so yes, this is going to be a long one..

I’m 23 years old, squeezing into size 12 clothes and my BMI index tells me that I’m overweight. I have rolls where I don’t want them; stretch marks on my inner thighs and a muffin top that isn’t as cute as it sounds. Some days I am more comfortable with myself and other times, I avoid looking in the mirror when I’m getting changed. It’s times like that where I feel unattractive and even guilty to a certain extent that I haven’t kept myself in shape or looked after my body perhaps the way that I should of done..

But what does being beautiful even mean? And who says that beauty only concerns our exterior? When I’m feeling this low, I forget about all the other positive traits I own. Traits like being hard-working. Being caring and willing to do anything for anyone. Having a big smile. Being creative and expressing this in every way possible. Being a good listener and a loyal friend. And most importantly, I forgot that all these things and more make me a beautiful person. So why do we become so fixated on our appearance like it’s the only thing that matters?

People often tell me that there is nothing wrong with the way I look but truthfully, we all know that it doesn’t really change the way you perceive yourself. Because the truth is – it’s about being comfortable within your own skin and rather than focusing on changing it, it’s about learning how to accept it.

And part of that acceptance is learning that beauty does not consist of what the media portrays to us day after day. Please don’t get me wrong – the celebrities in these magazines/adverts/television programmes are absolutely gorgeous but the message that I’m trying to get across is that they’re not the only definition of beauty. Anything out of these “standards” are classed as unattractive or unworthy – or so it seems. We are so focused on the smallest of things like having that thigh gap; the arch of our drawn-in eyebrows; the thickness of our lips; that defined six-pack – things that ultimately create an unrealistic goal of reaching a so-called perfection. I’m scared of the fact that if I spend too much of my time on something as temporary as my looks, that I’ll forget to enjoy the finer things in life.

We only get one after all..

Writing this has taught me a few lessons. That I should be my own kind of beautiful; be able to admire someone’s beauty without having to question my own and that most importantly – to remember that happier individuals are the most beautiful.

So when I feel like I’m having another one of those “down days”, I will try and retrace the wise words of Oscar Wilde and tell myself ‘to be beautiful, but not like those girls in the magazines. Let’s be beautiful for the way we think and let’s be beautiful for that sparkle in our eyes when we talk about something we love. Let’s be beautiful for our ability to make other people smile even when we’re feeling sad. We’re not beautiful for something as temporary as our looks.

Let’s be beautiful, deep down to our souls’.

J

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