Letting go of competition and self-criticism
By this time of the year, most people have given up on their New Year’s resolutions to be healthier and lose weight. As the weather slowly gets warmer again, there will be pressure to have a “bikini body” to show off in the sunny days to come. But for those who really want to improve their health, just focusing on how our bodies look isn’t going to be a solution.
When it comes to body image, it’s unfortunate that people think “eat less” by default. We look at people whose bodies are different from society’s “ideal” figure and feel free to make judgements about their health. We compare own bodies to these images and judge ourselves for not measuring up. But what do we really think we’re accomplishing by that?
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to lose weight, but when it comes to developing unhealthy eating habits and obsessing over the way our body looks, people really need to take precaution. Humans need food to be strong, healthy, energetic and productive. However, if you feel like you need to follow a perfect standard with your food all the time, it will only set you up to feel more guilty about what you eat.
We know the “average woman” doesn’t look like the models in Vogue magazine, or anywhere else in the media where we’re told we have to be skinny in order to be happy. Everyone’s body is built differently and there’s no reason for you to compare yourself to Gigi Hadid or Kim Kardashian. Even though Hollywood’s standards are shifting to show more celebrities of different shapes and sizes, we know based on Beyonce and Lady Gaga’s experiences with fluctuating weight that people will still find reasons to criticize each other’s bodies. It’s frustrating to see paparazzi and Twitter trolls mocking such talented and beautiful singers about their bodies, but it’s important to ask: if we don’t like to hear people criticize strangers, why do we think it’s okay to criticize ourselves?
Sometimes, being strong means killing our own insecurities with kindness. If you’ve had a bad health day or even a few bad health weeks, don’t add to the fire by shaming yourself for the mistakes you’ve made.
We need to work on being better to our bodies and taking a long, hard look at our relationship with food. Part of that means not choosing what type of food we eat based on what we see on social media. It means eating food that makes us feel good, not just food that’s trendy or photogenic. We need to begin thinking about the benefits of food and what it can do for our bodies, not just what to avoid or cut out of our diet. If you have a positive relationship with food, you can still indulge in a delicious meal without it being a negative or shameful thing.
What should matter most is that you are healthy and content. Embrace your size and learn to love your body for what it really is. Do what you can to make your body strong, instead of focusing on making it smaller. There may be some days where you look in the mirror and negative thoughts come to your mind, but don’t fixate on that judgement. Everyone is beautiful and unique in their own way. Just remember that when it comes to criticizing your own body.
Campus Life Editor
Community Relations Manager
Arts and Culture Editor