Achieving body confidence: Is it possible in today’s society?
Achieving body confidence is something that is widely discussed both online and in the media. You don’t have to look hard to find articles that will tell you exactly how to become body confident – sometimes in the form of ‘X’, ‘Y’ and ‘Z’. But is achieving body confidence as simple as that? Is it even possible?
I want to start by discussing an article I have recently read, regarding the matter. This article (I would link it but I can’t remember where I found it, sorry!), took a surprising turn – one that I really wasn’t expecting. It began with talking about how the body positive movement is incredibly unhelpful in combatting body image issues; it then went on to talk about how it causes more harm than good. At first, I was sceptical, but the more I read, the more I came to understand where the writer was coming from.
The problem with the body positive movement
According to the writer, the main problem with the body positive movement is that it makes people feel as if they’re failing twice. The first failure comes from not being happy with your body; the second comes from not achieving body confidence after attempting to do so. This makes sense. The writer went on to explain how the body positive movement is not only unhelpful but unrealistic in its goal. Further along, they stated that the idealistic beauty standards portrayed in the media are projected at such a large scale, there’s no way individuals can overcome or ignore them. The point being: body image conditioning will happen, regardless.
I must say, I agree. Within western society, the media plays a huge role in our lives – we’re all aware of this. We know that the media is a very powerful tool that can be used to condition and indoctrinate – and we’re all conditioned from a young age, when we’re frequently exposed to media outlets. What I think many of us don’t like to acknowledge is just how powerful this conditioning is. Sometimes, it may become impossible to reverse the damage and to change our views on how we perceive ourselves and the world. For this reason, despite the body confidence movement, achieving body confidence may not be so cut and dried.
Is the body positive movement all that bad?
Despite what’s been mentioned, I honestly don’t think that the body positive movement is all bad. There are two reasons for this: the first being that without the movement, many of us would still be absorbing the media’s beauty standards without a second thought. I think the movement has created more awareness about how unrealistic these standards are. Also, hearing about models who have spoken up in agreement with the movement; who have talked about having their body digitally manipulated, is also empowering. This may not have happened as quickly as it had without the movement.
The second reason as to why I think the body positive movement has been successful is because it has given us variety. Previously, we’d been heavily exposed to only a few body types. Now, we are seeing many alternative body sizes and shapes. Our ‘norm’ is now being skewed to make way for natural (and evenly proportioned) bodies.
Ignoring body image issues is not the way forward
Another point that the writer made in regards to the movement, is that it is negative in also reinforcing patriarchal views (encouraging women to focus on their looks as an important aspect of themselves). They concluded that individuals would be better off focusing on anything other than their own body image, as no one can ignore the media’s beauty standards, and because the body confidence movement is also harmful.
However, I find this to be problematic.
If people will always be aware of the body images they see in the media, as the writer has suggested, then I don’t see how individuals will be able to ignore their own body image issues. That’s like saying, ‘Yes, I know that all you can see around you is chocolate, but it’s best to just ignore the subject of chocolate and of how much you want chocolate.’ It doesn’t make sense, and it’s just not possible for a lot of people.
Achieving body confidence: a more realistic view
Before reading this article, I was going to make this post centred purely on tips for achieving body confidence. Now, I’ve had to take a step back and think about how helpful my advice would have been. Let’s face it, most of us have read articles on how to view our bodies with less distaste, and we’ve all felt miserable afterwards for feeling the same way. Therefore, it’s unlikely that my post would have helped you.
Instead, here is the reality on achieving body confidence (which I think is more helpful):
As the writer has said, achieving body confidence may not be possible. The media has such a large impact on us that even with the body positive movement, you’ll be constantly bombarded with unrealistic beauty standards. The first thing to do is to accept that what you’re being shown in the media is fake (digitally manipulated) and unrealistic. Most people don’t look like what you see in the magazines. If you don’t either, then there’s nothing wrong with that.
Also, you should accept that being okay with how you look can be hard to achieve. If you don’t like how you look, then it’s important to know that you are not a failure for feeling this way. The reality is, you’ve been taught to become unhappy with what the media doesn’t declare as ‘beautiful.’ This isn’t your fault; you should be kinder to yourself for feeling this way.
Unfortunately, achieving body confidence doesn’t happen overnight. You should also know that even if you don’t like your body, there will be people out there who will. It sounds cheesy and stupid, I know (cringe alert), but it is true. Heck, I have hair here, there and everywhere (on my stomach, back, arms, bikini line – you name it!). I hate it, but one day someone will come along and accept me for it, regardless. The same goes for you.
I hope this post has been of some help, I really do.
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