Through this article I want to share more about how we can use fashion to cultivate a positive body image and learn to be proud and embrace your own skin (if you don’t already). This issue is not confined to women, I will also touch more on the topic of men and their body image and share some tips we can all implement to spread more body positivity. We are all unique, let’s celebrate our uniqueness. Enjoy!
In 2019, one in five UK adults felt shame because of their body image. For me, that is quite troubling. Body image is how we think and feel about ourselves physically, and how we believe others see us. With the rise of social media, targeted ads and the ability to airbrush photos, we are exposed to idealistic bodies more than ever. This is bound to increase the pressure to take the perfect Instagram selfie; several research studies have uncovered that social comparison to celebrities on social media is significantly associated with body dissatisfaction.
Fashion & body image
For a long time, the fashion industry has been guilty of typecasting size zero models – this is beginning to change; May last year saw entrepreneur Grace Beverley launch her sustainable fitness wear brand: TALA. Part of their mission is to be inclusive, their “collections are for every BODY”. Each product is designed to make everyone feel comfortable AND empowered with “flattering fits”.
ASOS is another excellent example of a fashion retailer leading the way for promoting body positivity. From featuring a range of models with different body types to no longer airbrushing photographs and celebrating imperfections. There have been positive changes to help everyone feel beautiful and believe they can rock any piece of clothing they choose, regardless of their size. But there’s still a way to go yet and I wanted to share some things that can help everyone.
Whilst browsing through clothes, remember size is just a number and does not define your body or you as a person. Clothing sizes vary between shops, just because you may be a larger size in one shop compared to another does not mean you have gained weight – there is just a different size guide and measurements. If there is a piece of clothing you love on the hanger or model and there are voices in your head saying it does not look the same on you… don’t listen! Everyone is unique and we should learn to embrace this.
Men & body image
Body image is not exclusive to women – men struggle too. Traditionally men have been conditioned to supress how they feel about their body and to just man up, but that’s not to say they don’t have their own insecurities. Eminem, Elton John and Zayn Malik have all suffered from eating disorders, even whilst reaching amazing successes in their careers. There are many ads directed at men using ripped models, who are probably on personalised training plans and work out six times a week. Again, promoting potentially unachievable goals to their audience, bound to have a strain on their mental health.
I am all for a fitness goal and during lockdown have personally been jumping on the @CourtneyDBlack Live Instagram workouts six days a week but take these at your own pace. Realistically if I was going out to work full-time, I wouldn’t be able to fit this many in. I am doing this for me, for my physical and mental health, and that is what fitness should be all about (not frantically training and drinking four protein shakes a day to reach an unattainable, potentially airbrushed body goal). We can all let the people in our lives know they can talk to us if they’re feeling low about their body image. The more we talk, the less of a stigma there will be and we can build each other up rather than suffering in silence.
6 things to do from today to promote body positivity and learn to embrace yourself:
- Write down three things you love about your body. Remember them if you are feeling down
- Unfollow social accounts if they make you feel negative about your body or self, you do not need that toxicity in your life
- Change the social media conversation. Don’t put pressure on yourself to take the most perfect photograph, embrace your natural beauty and be proud when posting
- If you notice a weight gain, rather than feeling down, instead make a conscious effort to creating some healthier meals and getting outside more to get your steps in. Both of these acts will send you on your way to feel better about yourself
- Pay more compliments to your friends, family, co-workers or even strangers (in person or on social media). If you like their hair, style, outfit, tell them! It could make their day
- Remind yourself that many media images are unrealistic and unattainable for most of us, it could even be photo-shopped
If you’re really struggling with body image, please speak to someone about it. If you don’t want to speak to someone you know, there are helplines and resources available below.
I want to finish on this quote that can help us all learn to embrace ourselves:
- The charity Beat Eating Disorders has 3 helplines for different age groups: Over 18 Helpline: 0808 801 0677 Studentline: 0808 801 0811 Under 18 Youthline: 0808 801 0711 . This website also has a plethora of different resources and support services for you to access for free.
- Positive Psychology has many resources relating to body image to help improve your knowledge, such as: activities for improving body image and recommendations for books, blogs, articles and YouTube videos.
- The Mental Health Foundation Body Image Report explains further about things we can do to take action around body image.
- Young Minds has a dedicated body image page with information and further places you can go to if you need help.