Body Image and Its Impact on Mental Health

8 Minutes Read

You were always beautiful until someone told you otherwise.

What is beautiful and handsome?

Your beauty is reflected through your behaviour.

When your heart, mind and soul unite in harmony it reflects on your face. All the beauty evolves from within you. If you pause and reflect on this, you might begin to experience how beautiful you really are. You will begin to love yourself as person who is beautiful.

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Trapped by the beauty industry. Who’s to blame?

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The irony of the beauty industry is to keep the beautiful looking trapped and suck in the ones who strive to look more beautiful.

Social media, advertisers and music artists are the driving force. It is hard to escape the perfect image craze. Advertisers are meeting public expectations in order to sell a particular product. They use beautiful people to hock their wares. Celebrities are paid handsomely to promote beauty products, clothes, body image, cars, holidays etc. Screen appearances are brush-stroked and photo-shopped. It all seems so unreal in reality. If someone sees imperfection, social media sites such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are there to critique the tiniest of shortcomings. Selfies are another prime example where people present their image to the public.

Unfortunately, the public can be cruel at times, and the image may be rated or discussed. The comments can get so bad that it borders on bullying. Models praised for being stick thin can also give off a poor body image to those who are curvaceous or overweight. The context boosts the notion that a person’s self-worth is attached to how they appear.

If you don’t like what you see, it could have a direct impact on your mental health and wellness. If you haven’t come to appreciate your appearance you are suffering. Then people get into debts and experience stress, anxiety, depression and loneliness. Their physical and mental health takes a heavy toll.

Is beauty skin deep?

The motivation to write my story is because several years ago, I too got swept away with the body beautiful message. Yet I knew full well that I would never reach the pinnacle of achieving a well-trimmed body, the six-pack, height (I am just 5 feet & 7 inches) weight, skin, facial appearance, hair, and everything else the beauty industry, the supermodels, and the media continue to define and promote to us (body image).

I hated my appearance comparing with the images of handsome looking men embedded in my minds. Not only that, it made me jealous – silly as it sounds, whilst I am writing this.

The mirror in the bathroom told me a different story.  The Disney fairy tale of Snow White. It reminded me of the words of the wicked queen ‘Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?’

The answer was ‘not you David’☺.

I became depressed, lonely and a sequence of doom and gloom followed.  It compounded my existing low self-esteem and I lost confidence in myself. It affected my mental and physical health. I ate just one sandwich a day, lost a lot of weight just weighing 7.5 stones. I drank alcohol to numb my haunting thoughts. I was in a bad state and still trying to put on a brave face in front of others. My inner-man was slowly fading away, to the point I was contemplating that ending my life was the only option. My inner demons were prompting me to do this. I actually tried but I failed. Thank God! Little did I know then that there was a greater purpose for my existence in this world.

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Remember, when you are suffering, you suffer alone.

The Risks of Developing a Negative Body Image

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Poor body image perception can appear at any stage in life. Parents may often plant the seed unknowingly this.

Media, news outlets, and discussion forums can impact a person’s view and cause mental anguish. If you don’t like what you see, you may resort to drastic measures such as bulimia to lose excessive pounds or plastic surgery to correct a bump in your nose. If your mental health has been affected, no amount of fixing will help.

However, you must get up, dust off the dirt and start moving forward to discover the real purpose for your existence. I do not say this lightly, because it is not easy, to begin with, but if you want to set yourself free and discover the real beautiful person that you really are, then you must start.

You can begin right now…

My 7 top tips to beat this deception

1. Stop comparing yourself to others.

Everyone has something they wish they could change about their body. Wishing you had someone else’s, hair, eyes, nose, lips, physique, weight. Believe me, it might never happen. Stop looking at other people’s social media profile photos. Ask them whether that is how they look when they get up first thing in the morning or is the painted mask they hide behind? This does not mean you totally give up on your appearance. We live in a society where we need to present ourselves in a respectable and modest way such as our workplace and for special occasions. Dressing and looking well boosts our confidence. This is good but an obsession of any sort can be disastrous.

2. Focus on your health, inner person and self-care.

Your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health is by far the most important thing.

We are spiritual beings living a human experience and we are here to learn and grow. When you listen to your inner guidance and live your life based on its wisdom, people will see the beauty and creativity of the real you that’s inside your flesh and bones. Tap into your true self and learn to love who you really are, by practising meditation daily. Eat healthy food, learn to cook from fresh ingredients, avoid or minimize processed food. Hydrate your body by drinking fresh water. If you like, drink it out of a wine glass.

Take regular exercise. Go to the gym if you like or just take brisk walks for thirty minutes at least 5 times a week. A good night’s sleep is crucial.

If you don’t do shift work, get into the habit of going to bed early. At the latest by 11.00 p.m. if you can.

Avoid looking at your smart devices before going to bed. You will begin to notice a great difference in your physical and mental health. The better you feel, the more likely you’ll be motivated to keep making positive changes.

Yesterday is gone, and tomorrow is yet to come. Today is a brand-new day. Make the most of it and enjoy.

3. Be thankful for what you have.

The more you appreciate what you have, the more you will have to be thankful for, and this includes good health.

Keep a gratitude list and add to it when you wake up in the morning and before you go to bed at night. This simple practice will allow you to start your day on a positive note. Progress through it with a better mindset, and end the day peacefully.

4. Focus on a goal or purpose you like to achieve.

Have you heard the saying, “What you focus on grows”? Instead focusing how you feel about your body. Instead, replace those thoughts by spending some time and energy on a cause you’re passionate about. The rewards will put things into perspective, raise your spirits, and make you feel better about yourself.

5. Become creative and surround yourself with beauty.

Creating a beautiful tidy environment at home or in your workspace will provide a tranquil setting.

You don’t need to go out splash out new furniture. By just opening the curtains, you let sunlight into your room which adds beauty. Add some silk cushions to your sofa, play your favourite music while cooking dinner. Keep fresh flowers on your desk or table.

Take walks in the countryside. If you don’t live there, go to the nearest park you can find. Breath fresh air wherever possible. Become creative in creating your own beautiful surrounding.

6. Build a support system.

Spend time with people who have a positive influence on you and that energize you rather than reinforce bad habits. Exercise together, swap healthy recipes, and champion one another when you’re making progress. Get professional guidance. Talking with family and friends can also help.

7. Remember you are beautiful.

Others will define your beauty as they perceive you. You define your beauty as you perceive yourself.

Additional support

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If you would like to talk to someone who can help you to take the first step with confidence and help you through your journey. I will be delighted to help you.

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