It's Not THEM, It's YOU: How our Body Image is Influenced

In today's world, there are various ways that impact how one feels about their body. This will include their surroundings, social media platforms and certain industries such as fashion.

Photo by Anna Shvets: https://www.pexels.com/photo/women-wearing-a-black-outfit-4672269/

It is a long journey when it comes to self-love and loving your own body. This is something many struggle with, including me... at least, some time ago. This is usually led through social media's ideals of "body goals" or even your surroundings such as relatives making comments about your body (whether it is how tall you grew, how thin you've gotten, etc.) when they see you after a long time. How we see our bodies can be very influential to our emotions, mentally and physically demanding, both positively and negatively.


I will explain my journey towards self-love, which I hope will give anyone and everyone a little thought. Whether you are going through this phase (yes, I promise you it is a phase. You will get through it) or that you wish to understand our problems better.


Social media platforms


We always come across those Instagram posts of that one person posing in a beautiful scenery. It is said that social media is a cause of negative impacts towards oneself as they scroll through the timeline. This applies to a majority of females, as they compare themselves to the person in question on the picture. It is just a reflex, it comes to them without even thinking. This influences how an individual will pose for their own picture as they look for that "perfect angle" that will make them look "pretty".


The more people go through their timeline, the more they compare themselves to the person on the picture, the more dissatisfied they become with the appearance of their body. This is mainly due to the fact that what is shown to the world is the "ideal" and the "goal", which isn't at all, because there is no such thing as ideal body nor body goals. There is no real set standards.


Professional sectors

The first industry that will come to mind when talking about body is surely the fashion industry. There were many controversies some time ago involving, for instance, Victoria Secret who would make their models (known as Angels) go through extreme diets and training, in order to look "the best version" and to meet the body requirements to walk down the catwalk. These women were forced to believe what they initially looked like was not the perfect image. They were not worthy of being called "Angel". However, nowadays, the organisation has become much more diverse; since 2021, they started to recruit various people from different backgrounds.


Another emerging industry is K-Pop. This stands for Korean Pop where the industry heavily evaluates the visuals of auditionees. Even as trainees, the companies would make them go on diets while training and practicing very hard, with the hope to debut one day. This becomes very draining, physically and mentally on these souls. This is all for the purpose of achieving the perfect body shape (thin and lean) as they are evaluated regularly on top of their dancing, vocals and rap. Also, even once they become idols, the majority of them still do crash diets before promotions "to look the best". Hence, as the K-Pop diet becomes a very trending topic, many idols have opened up about what they eat and other practices, which are extremely unhealthy.


Most prominent idols who have had comments about their body shapes were Jihyo but mainly Hwasa, who becomes the first idol to defeat the Korean beauty standards as she does not have the ideal lean and thin body, but more of a curvy one which is much liked in Western countries such as the USA. Another idol who gets mistreated is Haechan from NCT, which is more about his tanned skin than his body shape, where editors and/or makeup artists whitewash his face during events. He mentioned once that comments about his skin made him uncomfortable.


When it comes to this, I have not personally experienced this, purely because I am not interested in careers involving body image, but I do know some individuals who have gone through some tough times and overcame it.


Surroundings

It is so easy to describe someone when you see them, just like labelling them. However, this is mostly about relatives that express how chubby you have become, how you put on some weight and gained fat in the cheeks. In my case, this happened a lot. Coming from a South Asian background, it is very frequent for the older generation to "compliment" kids because that is literally a conversation starter for them.


"Fat-shaming doesn’t simply consist of off-handed comments — it’s a social phenomenon."

It is just ironic how these people do not understand how impactful their words are such as "oh, you've put on some weight there!". After receiving many of these comments, I started going on diets (the unhealthy types, yes.) and started working out on low-calorie intake (500kcal/day), while watching "flat tummy", "lean body" videos because at that time, in my mind, that was what the perfect body was, that is what everyone made it seem like it was. I had spent three whole years on it, unhappy, not eating the food my mother would make. At the end, when I grew, I realised that I cannot be living unhappily like this, I wanted to eat good food and pass peacefully. I had figured that food made me happier than a "skinny body". But also that I shouldn't be following other people's standards, that they weren't worth my pain and tears if they did not accept me for how I looked or just who I was. Those people aren't beneficial to me in any way, so why did I have to waste three years on them?


Anyways...

At the end of the day, we are all different for a reason, that is to make the world more colourful. Imagine we all looked the same... how creepy would that be?! Therefore, let's not wish to be like someone else, let's love our body and create our own standards, just for ourselves.


THEM ≠ YOU