by Colleen Baker, mental health blogger
(Courtesy of stayontargetcoach.com/blog)
In honor of this Saturday’s “Second Annual: Body Image Symposium,” I am excited to talk about the reasons why we don’t love ourselves completely and how we might be able to change that. (Details about the event are also below!)
Bulimia, anorexia, body dysmorphic disorder, the constant need or want to diet, looking in the mirror and hating the reflection—we have all become prey to at least one of these feelings or disorders at some point. In past posts, I have indicated my belief in why and how this all starts, but I am prepared to go even deeper. We hate ourselves on a daily basis and push ourselves to unnecessary levels just to be considered “normal.” This can be found in every aspect of our life in this competitive, “claw your way to the top” world, but I see a main aspect of all of this simply within the way we look, how others look and how it makes us feel. We are being taught not to love ourselves on a daily basis.
When you think about it, we are really being pulled in two different directions. One way is telling us to look at the beautiful models and actresses that have become sort of role models and get to the gym, eat right, and really do anything possible to look like them. The other is what you could call “McDonald’s.” We are trying our hardest to be anything like our idealized visions of ourselves, but how is this truly possible in a world full of temptation around every street corner—literally? It is really impossible to expect our natural instincts that lead us to seek pleasure to not fall prey to food that looks good, tastes good, and feels good once it goes down. It is also a lot nicer to stay in bed an extra hour than getting up and going to the gym. The main conclusion is that mentally, we are pushing ourselves to lose weight, be beautiful, and charm the pants off of anyone we meet, but the reality of our lives makes this much more like an internal battle. I could go on for probably an entire book, stating how and why the food industry is doing this to us—but I’ll just let you watch Food Inc.
Now, let’s get back to why we hate ourselves. When examining beauty in our society, we can all probably name someone that is our “ideal” beautiful person. This individual appears to have the ability to say “no” to bad food and say “yes” to a good work out routine. While I am sure you have heard this a million times, I’m going to cram it into your throats: celebrities literally have an entire team of people working to keep them beautiful and fit. Their jobs rely on it, possibly more than the job of the celebrity herself. We are being made to feel inadequate and light years away from the “natural” beauty of these women, finding ourselves with our heads in toilet bowls, our stomachs rumbling, and or bodies exhausted trying to keep up.
Paris Hilton was my role model in 8th grade. I was in awe of her beauty, but more so her ability to “eat whatever she wanted” according to the Confessions of an Heiress book that I made my Bible that year. I gazed at her pictures while shoving my face with Starburst jelly beans, telling myself that if Paris could do it, so could I. Of course, this only led to one problem—an eating disorder. Not to blame Paris Hilton personally for her obnoxious self-obsession, but when eating like Paris Hilton and not seeing Paris Hilton in the mirror, it can be rather disappointing. Situations like mine will probably always be starting points for eating disorders or self-hatred—celebrities will probably always seem invincible and we will continue to feel disappointed in ourselves. But there are ways to get around this disappointment and start feeling good about yourself.
While I have praised my love of therapy in the past, there are a ton of old-fashioned “love yourself” techniques that I have come to trust. Try not looking at gossip magazines, websites, or television shows—all they do is promote negativity and self-hate. Secondly, praise yourself for the little victories—you did well on a test? Cool. That means you’re smart. Someone told you that you looked really pretty today? Awesome, someone noticed. You got out of bed this morning? Cool. More than I can say on some days. Life is not about the big promotions, flashy awards, and large successes; it is about simply loving yourself and taking every day as an important part of your life.
Lastly, this technique is more of something to remember—a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, that states that “bo one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Cheesy for me to promote? Yes. But this quote could not be more true. Everyone deserves the right to happiness and was born with the divine freedom of determining who they want to be. It is no one else’s business how you eat, exercise, or look. The only thing that truly matters is how you feel about yourself. Not what the media may want us to feel and not even what some of our friends or family wish for us—we are who we are, as Ke$ha would say.
The Second Annual: Body Image Symposium” will be held in Herg Auditorium of Newhouse 3 on Saturday, February 26th @ 3:00. Sign up at bodyimage.syr.edu by tonight, 2/24 if you love yourself!
Counseling Center on campus: 315-443-4715. Help is never out of reach.
Editor’s Note: What the Health Online and What the Health magazine are not licensed to give medical advice. The tips above are simply tips from a student with experience. If you are struggling with a mental disorder, please refer to your doctors to seek options that are right for you.