I wrote this for my work blog but thought I’d share it here too because… I’m lazy.
I’ve talked about my “complicated relationship” with this old carcass I call a body before but I’ve been thinking about it again in relation to Mental Health Awareness this week because the theme this time is Body Image – and how we think and feel about our bodies.
Even joshing about it being old and decrepit sums up how I feel about my body – it’s a love/hate kind of thing and I choose to look at it with humour, something I have worked long and hard to do. Most people have low self-esteem at points in their lives and particularly when they compare how they look to the media (and society’s) narrow view of what is beautiful. The beauty of low self esteem is that it can strike at any time, at any age – and nobody is safe. Which means we’re all in it together.
For me it’s been a 40-year journey to get to a point where I love my body, even when it aches, even when I’m looking at pictures of Scarlett Johansson and cursing the fact we’re not identical twins. And even when Joan from Accounting is talking about how disgusting she is because she accidentally walked past a cupcake in the break room once. I really do see this relationship as an ongoing project, the most important project perhaps in tandem with mental health – the body and mind after all are so intricately connected.
I don’t know if there is any tried and tested way to get to a good place with yourself but I personally believe it surrounding yourself with positive influences can help enormously. For instance, only following people who enrich your life and your worldview on Instagram. Why keep up with people who make you feel bad? I unfollow as quickly as my fat little fingers will allow if I read or see something that doesn’t align itself with that philosophy. Life is hard enough, give me all the positivity and light. And no, there’s nothing to be learnt from another person’s view on your body – it’s yours alone and truly, it doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks or says about it.
I also choose to dress nice (when I can be bothered) and cover myself in weird and wonderful tattoos, that’s my own personal jam – and not necessarily a recommendation. Diet and exercise are always cited as great for mental health and can help you feel better in your own skin but what you do and how often again is only your business. The gym isn’t for everybody and let me assure you it is not for me. I like a walk while I listen to podcasts.
The Mental Health Foundation‘s tagline for this campaign is #bebodykind and I think it’s a good place to start. But it does need to encompass all body types, even the ones you don’t personally like the look of or the ones you don’t understand. So be kind to your body as much as you can and be kind to others too.
There are lots of interesting and surprising facts to be read about a research done on Body Image here, if you fancy – as well as helpful resources if you feel you need some support.