The social appeal of body image has changed dramatically over time, quickly moving to often impossible body shapes. What is important, is to recognise your behaviour around your body and learn to recognise that a healthy body image has no relation on the criteria for a 'perfect body'.
The ‘perfect body’
It appears that in recent years, most of the Western world has adopted the rather excessive preoccupation with body shapes, weight, and diets, previously mainly confined to the citizens of Hollywood. The heighted focus on these unobtainable ideals appear to plant false expectations in the minds of the general public whose strive for the ‘perfect body’ seems insatiable.
Body ideals have changed over time and will continue to do so in the future. The ideal shape tends to be whatever is most difficult to achieve during a given time period. Thus, if it would appear too effortless to meet the ideal, then standards would have to change for the ideal to retain its extraordinary nature. What is more, the ideal shape is becoming harder and harder to achieve as time goes on. However, arguably the biggest change in Western society is the degree to which we are concerned. While historically, the male body ideal has undergone some changes, the female body has been subject to the most variation. In the Victorian era the female body ideal would be a full-figured, plump, and pale body reflecting opulence and wealth. This ideal has undergone many changes, (most) notably in the 1960’s during which thinness became the ideal and with a few exceptions has remained so ever since. ‘Thin is in’, it seems. To solely blame the media for these trends would be too simplistic. It is recognized that an interplay of factors fuels our increasing preoccupation with the pursuit of beauty. In the light of this trend some interesting questions emerges;
- Is it possible to feel okay, happy, and worthy, without having the ‘ideal body’?
- Are you just your body?
- What are you neglecting, in your incessant preoccupation with your physical appearance?
- Does beauty equal happiness?
What does body image mean?
Body image essentially refers to your relationship with your own body. Becoming aware of your own body image can be quite an eye-opener for many. The way in which you think about your body will largely determine how you feel about,- and subsequently treat your body. A way to explore some of your attitudes is by reflecting on some of your behaviours relating to your body;
- Do you take care of your body by eating nourishing foods?
- Do you starve your body, refusing to respond to its’ needs?
- Do you work out? If so, are you able to stop when you feel fatigued?
- Do you listen your body’s signs and symptoms and take action where needed?
What did you find? Whatever emerged the invitation is to begin to reflect on whether you feel the way you treat your body is sustainable and kind, or whether there is room for new ways to think and feel about your body.
A healthy body image is not a result of having honouring the criteria for ‘the perfect body’. Tomorrow’s blog explores what constitutes a healthy and unhealthy body image and offers ways in which to make peace with your body.