Why your body image and self-esteem is controlling your actions
CW: This article discusses topics of mental illness and suicide which could be distressing to some readers.
Why cant I look like her? you ask. Why is she perfect and I look like this? you say. All reasonable remarks... yes.... no! The problem today more so than ever is the struggle with body image, especially in adolescents and young adults with shocking facts such as:
"More than 90% of 15-17 year olds girls want to change at least one aspect of their physical appearance"
Body image is your own thoughts and feelings towards your body and how confident you are about your physical appearance. Our mindset is based on societies foundation than own self-esteem. In a perfect world we would all think I like me for me, I am unique and a valued person with a nice body but sadly this is not the case. There are half a dozen people who believe they are not good enough, would be better losing weight, would call themselves fat compared to others... when in fact there is no such case. In reality, this is a society that has created these so called "standards" of what the perfect person should look like, all publised through the media affecting people's body image of themselves. This is now prevalent more than ever becuase of social media networks such as; instagram, snapchat and now tiktok implicity showing so called perfect bodies. This is why it is more women who more struggle with body image and self-esteem because of these unreasonable standards.. always comparing saying do I look okay? ohh I don't like my face this way! Delete that I look so ugly! Leading to problematic actions in restrictive dieting, consmetic surgery or sometimes even suicide.
You are not alone and what we can do to support each other
The upsurge in negative body image is not only happening to you. With reports of 91% of women unsatisified with their body and wanting the 'perfect' body from the media. This has been through models and more recently doll trends, whereby people change their physical qualities to be that of a barbie doll for instance.
Yet, an increasing number of celebrities and public figures are becoming more outspoken about their personal struggle with body image and problematic self-esteem. How could this be? This is because of the social pressures set with people trolling online. This can become troublesome because not only are more celebrities and public figures receiving more blacklash to deal with but it is taking a toll on their self-esteem. As celebrities such as kesha have said trolling has led to problems like eating disorders. Similiarly, former Geordie Shore reality star Charlotte Crosby has revealed she never suffered much self-image problems until she joined the show. As trolls targeted her body image bringing her self-esteem down so much she believed them and even got cosmetic surgery because of the hate.
The underlining problem is people being hateful towards others, more so online as they can hide behind a screen so to say. It is easy to say don't listen to others but in fact people will take comments personally as we have all done it.
Our minds are programmed to have a negative bias, whereby we focus on the negative experiences rather than the positives. Whether this is saying negative things or concerntrate on negative remarks to ourselves or others. This is why people need to take an active role in changing their mindsets to help convert trolling into positive feedback encouraging positive self-esteem and body image to yourself and others rather than being dragged down. Only when society changes its mindset and celebrates that everyone's different, and therefore unique, can we truly internalise positive self-esteem and body image. As comparing ourselves to others will no longer question our thoughts about our bodies!
Self-esteem is important for survival
Having self-esteem is important in being able to self-actualise, this is being able to fulfill one's potential, meaning the person who has achieved the potential as a fully functioning individual. Only once an individual has met the lower needs e.g. physiologically, safety, love and belonging and esteem can someone achieve self-actualisation. Self-esteem is crucial in being able to reach one's potential and without it means a person cannot get there. Therefore, if someone has low self-esteem then it can affect someone's confidence in who they are.
Incorporating this into body image can mean a negative body image of yourself which can affect your thoughts about yourself such as 'I look awful anyway.. what's the point of trying' leading to secondary problems like depression.
The point is, life isn't straight forward and there will be challenges along the way, but with the supoort from others and a positive mindset of how we see ourselves as a person physically and mentally is one of the most important challenges we need to overcome. Though there are always going to be people who are going to be negative. Don't let them drag you down! As everyone is unique and has something different to contribute to society.
At the end of the day you are you, you live for yourself to look after yourself, to be happy in yourself. So, societies may implicity be setting these standards for the happiness of other people when in reality they should be set for yourself. Be comfortable in yourself not for anyone else's pleasure, you hold the key to your confidence!
Love yourself for what you do have!