‘Many young women say they are too self-aware to exercise; many say they drink to feel comfortable with the way they look; 50% of girls smoke to suppress their appetite – is it too strong to suggest that these things, these anxieties, are slowly killing them?’ Eva Wiseman, 2010 Body Image Report, Guardian
Although self-confidence is personal, the projection of self-confidence has the undeniable ability to affect every aspect of our lives, from work, to friendships, relationships.
Whatever the reason for this self-doubt, one thing is for certain, the torment is all too real for far too many young women and men in the UK. I ponder this: If self-esteem and negative body image are inflicted on us on the personal level, either through the way we interpret the media, bullies or just looking in the mirror, then how can we help ourselves overcome this?
This question is far too deep to come out with a finite answer, but that won’t stop me giving it a go. In my opinion we cannot do it alone. In order to break this cycle, we need to flip this subject from personal to social. Of course this change starts with us, but by surrounding ourselves with positive social images and messages, we as people can turn our negative thoughts to positive ones.
To help break this article away from the cloudy philosophical demeanour it is becoming, let me get a little bit personal with you all.
I am a size 16. Well actually I range anywhere between a size 12-18, depending on what shop I’m in…but that’s a whole other blog post. I have never been considered slim in my whole entire life; I cannot remember not being considered ‘big, curvy, chubby, robust’ and so on. Mixtures of factors are to ‘blame’ for my negative body image.
From bullying at school, concerned looks from my parents when reaching for another celebration chocolate, doctors and hurtful comments from strangers. Over the years I have internalised these things and subsequently projected a negative body image. But, the tides are slowly turning with a little help from my friends, family, and perhaps most of all…social media.
I, like most people on the UK are on the social media spectrum. You name it, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, I’m on it. Yes social media is the perfect platform for cyber bullies (yes you are oh so tough behind your keyboards!), but if it is also the perfect platform to break away from the gatekeepers of British media and to become voices of diversity and acceptance. Here are my top three figures in social media that have had a positive influence on me:
Jada Sezer: @jadasezer
Who: Plus sized model signed by Models 1 in the UK.
Why is she inspiring: Jada personifies confidence. She shows daily through social media that beauty is beyond size. She shows that EVERY woman can look chic and stylish.
Inspirational social quote: ‘I don’t want to be a model, I want to be a role model.’
Gracie Francesca: @graciefrancesca
Who: Gracie is a well-known beauty, fashion and lifestyle blogger who was most recently voted Cosmopolitan’s Next Newcomer 2014.
Why is she inspiring: Because she is honest. She makes no secret of the fact that her self-body image is still negative, but she is working on it. Through her efforts to do this, whether it is through fierce fashion, modelling for Cosmo or baring all on her YouTube channel, she is sharing her experiences with many young women and men who are perhaps going through the same.
Inspirational social quote: ‘I’m not there yet, I'm always pushing and working for me, but what I do know is that I am on the right path. Every opportunity and blessing that comes my way is for a reason - because I have worked my ass off for it.’
Be Real Campaign:
Why are they inspiring?: Sometimes it’s not just individuals, but movements that really inspire. The #Bereal tag is more than just a tool, it is a message that health should be put before appearance and takes a stand against the demoralising messages we receive everyday concerning body image.
Inspring quote: BODY CONFIDENCE FOR EVERYONE.
So are you ready to get social about body image? Let’s help each other spread the word and change our negatives into projections of pure happiness, regardless of gender, size and race. #Bereal