It may sound cliché, but I believe the world would be so much better if everyone loved themselves for what they are. We would save a ton of money and have much stronger relationships if we could just learn to accept ourselves. The idea sounds simple enough, but it’s a world that we'll probably never see. That is, unless we discard of all fashion magazines, runway models, and reality shows.
The problem with not being okay with yourself is that it reflects in every aspect of your life. A lot of women who believe that they are too heavy because they don’t look like fashion models end up spending a ton of money on diet pills or simply quit eating all together. Other women who feel they are not attractive enough end up sleeping with whatever men show them the least bit of attention.
Today, the media is filling the heads of people everywhere with the idea that they need to become someone else in order to be happy. On the cover of nearly every magazine you see “Lose 5 pounds, fast!” or “Tone those problem areas!” I would like to see just one magazine with an article titled “Feel great about your body now!” or maybe one with the secrets to being comfortable having sex with the lights on.
I’m not saying that women should give up on themselves altogether. I advocate exercise and healthy eating entirely. However, one should do these things to feel good and become healthy and not spend an hour sprinting on the treadmill just to impress some guy. Any sort of weight loss should always be for oneself.
Ultimately there will always be changes that, the media implies, need to be made. Maybe someone’s teeth are crooked or their ears are “too big.” Maybe, no matter how many crunches they do, they can never get rid of those love handles. There is an actual danger in merely following “The Look.” Many people who can’t achieve this perfection spiral out of control and fall prey to depression, plastic surgery, and eating disorders. Even when one goal is finally reached they always find another immediately, convinced they still aren’t attractive enough.
I have a few friends, who shall remain nameless, who refuse to accept themselves as they are. These girls are quite attractive and slender and get compliments constantly. Still, they torture themselves at the gym, ridicule themselves in the mirror, and deprive themselves of anything more than a few croutons for lunch. These women simply cannot see the beauty in themselves and are determined to spend their lives searching for it, no matter how unhealthy it might be.
What sickens me is that this is exactly the mentality that the entire beauty industry thrives on. They want people with low self-esteem so they can swoop in with promises that their product can make them beautiful. If everyone was content with themselves, no one would feel the need to buy make-up or accessories, not to mention waxing kits, spray-on tanner, or teeth-whitening strips.
Don’t get me wrong, I love fashion as much as the next girl. I own more eye shadows than anyone rightfully should. However, it is when one begins to rely on shoes and flat-irons to make them beautiful that the problem begins. When women can’t even go to the grocery store without make-up on, they’re indicating that their beauty is not in themselves, but in their cosmetics.
So far I have mentioned the problem: people don't perceive the value in themselves and are therefore willing to believe whatever a magazine says and buy whatever an ad tells them. So how do we fix the problem?
There are several tips for finding peace with oneself on the website of the National Eating Disorders Association. In one article, titled “Ten ‘Will Powers’ for Improving Body Image,” authors Michael Levine, Ph.D and Linda Smolak, Ph.D suggest tactics such as wearing clothes you like rather than ones you hate but that hide your flaws. They also suggest surrounding yourself with those who support you and boost your self-esteem as well as treating one’s body with respect.
When it comes right down to it, the body you have is the only one you will ever have. That is, unless you engage in some crazy brain-swapping experiment. Otherwise, you are stuck. It does not have to be a depressing thought, though. As Levine and Smolak put it, your body is your vehicle. It has carried you to where you are today and will continue to carry you throughout the rest of your life. Sure, it may have some flaws, but I say that it is time to start focusing on its strengths. Maybe you have awesome abs or a great butt. Perhaps you get a ton of compliments on your eyes. Next time you get one, let it sink in and refuse to let yourself negate it with the thought, “So what if my eyes are pretty when I have such flabby arms?” Let’s all begin to focus on our best qualities and say to hell with impossible expectations.