New Year’s Blues: Fads and Extreme Dieting

By Kelsey Hibberd

Posted on Jan 09, 2015

“New year, new me” – a phrase which is likely to be littering social media around this time of year, but is it also polluting people’s self-perception?

Many people often find a new year to mean a fresh start, a chance to improve or change for the better. It could be anything from spending more time with the family, to spending less money on things you don’t need, nevertheless we all feel the need to make a resolution, a promise that we will ‘be better’ in the coming twelve months.
 
The most common resolution made by people is to ‘lose weight’, with the idea of actual physical health being a mere afterthought. This leads to the generation and promotion of all crazy kinds of ‘fad’ diets and extreme image overhauls which can often result in the individual damaging their physical and mental health. It’s important for body confidence campaigns such as Be Real to teach people that you need to learn to love yourself before thinking about improving your life, because most people (especially at this time of year) often feel that they need to change most of who they are in order to be happier.
 
I felt like this not so long ago myself, mainly from the pressures of the media, society, and the bullies at school. I felt that I needed to alter my appearance completely so I could fit in and be happy alike the people in the magazines who ‘did this diet’ that I should apparently do too. But recently that all changed, because I learnt to love myself for who I am now. Nothing changed apart from my own perception of who I am and my mental health has soared because of it; I’m a lot happier with life and not so judgemental and comparative to other people, too. I still have made resolutions, but because I can accept that I am in the right frame of mind to do so and for the right reasons.
 
For example, I have four resolutions this year. My first is to take care of my body and mind more in terms of health as I want to improve my health. Secondly, I’m going to save up pennies for the next year so I can buy a tattoo, as it’s an art I’ve admired for ages. Next, I aim to travel a lot more this year to see my friends so I can not only explore the world but keep in touch with good company. Lastly, to keep a jar and write down every positive thing that happened that day to be opened next New Year. I did this in 2014 and it helped me to reflect on the previous year and also to appreciate my life.
 
Reflection on the previous year is a good way to create a good New Year’s Resolution for yourself, but ensure that the reason for the resolution is your reason and not because half of your Facebook friends are doing it, or that Vogue thinks you should. In saying this, we shouldn’t feel bad for thinking this way as the media have a lot of responsibility for the way we think around this time of year. They will promote all of these ‘quick fix’ diets and tell you how to get ‘ripped’ in a ridiculously unhealthy amount of time because the media is largely very image-focused - but that’s their business. Even the idea of a diet is setting you up to fail – if you start a race, a drawing or a project, you expect to finish it, so when you ‘start’ a diet, you’ll always be looking for that finish line, hence why it often comes sooner than most people expect.
 
The main thing that I’ve learnt through experience over the past few years is that happiness comes from within, and by searching for a ‘quick fix’ you’re only going to have a quicker lasting result. You need to love yourself enough to take care of you, and it all starts with a positive self-image.
 
Keep in mind that you don’t actually have to make a New Year’s Resolution if you don’t want to because you’re absolutely fine as you are, and this is what Be Real is promoting at this very peak time of year for self-loathing. We need to encourage people, young people especially, to be thinking about health rather than looks and trying rather than failing. Only then, we as a nation can begin to build a positive self-image and ultimately, be a lot happier because of it.

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